I’m a huge buff on DHA/EPA supplementation and have read numerous books and scientific journal articles on this very subject.
I use Trader Joe’s (Trader Darwin’s) brand of Molecurarly Distilled Omega-3 fatty acids for myself. The price is reasonable (about $8 per 90 1200mG softgells). I use Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA for my 2 and 4 year olds.
The off-smells of these suplements can be a combination of rancidity as well as other fishy by-prodcuts. Molecular distillation removes both. It is important to keep these products in the refridgerator as it will slow down the oxidation of the delicate oils.
There was a comment to this thread about using Flax oil and eating fish instead. This is what the “mainstream health media” seems to suggest as it at first glance appears to be common sense and fits into the dogma of “whole food always superior to supplements”. However, almost nobody doing this is doing it right because doing it right is so complicated and expensive that it is easier and cheaper just to buy distilled EPA/DHA pills. I will mention some potential pitfalls of doing this:
- Getting LNA intake doesn’t mean you’ll make enough DHA/EPA (sorry vegitarians, but nature is cruel):
Keep in mind that most people can not convert LNA, which is what Flax oil has in it, into EPA and DHA very efficiently. This is a confusing point that even trips up nutritionists because EPA and DHA are not “strictly” essential, meaning that some will be converted in all humans.
There are some interesting research projects underway trying to figure out which population subgroups are more or less able to convert LNA to DHA/EPA. Some of the early work has revealed that people that can trace their ancestry back to nordic countries or Japan (both relied heavily on fish), have a much lower rate of LNA to DHA/EPA conversion.
As a side note for vegitarians (not that there are many who body build), there are very expensive DHA/EPA supplements that are available that come from Algae. They’ve recently added these kinds to baby formula in most US markets.
- Real whole fish that you can buy on the market may not have a lot of EPA/DHA in it and can also contain high enough amounts of Mercury to cause real health problems. There was an entire village in Japan that was poisoned this way. They also can have other chemicals in them that are possibly unhealthy but the cause-effect relationship is less clear at the typical exposure levels (PCBs, dioxins).
Actual DHA/EPA content depends not only on the species of fish, of course, but also the time of year, water temperature, and the fishes’ diet. In fact farm raised salmon are substantially inferior to wild salmon in both EPA/DHA content and presnece of contaminents. The seas are overfished and “wild” fish are getting more and more expensive. Fish that has a lot of Omega-3s spoil very rapidly. If you live in-land from the sea, chances are your food distribution chain is “weeding” out the high-Omega 3 catches for you because they’re going to go rancid in transit.
Consuming actual cod liver oil can also be a problem as it contains such large amounds of Vitamin A, D, and E that you can actually overdose on these if you take a 5 to 7 pills a day, which some people do.