The Ultimate Fish Oil Buying Guide in Malaysia
Fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important fats that you must get from your diet.
However, most people don’t know what they are.
In this post, we will briefly explained what omega-3 fatty acids are, and provide a buying guide for choosing the best value fish oil in Malaysia.
Omega-3 fatty acids explained
Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in your body and provide a number of health benefits.
Note: An essential nutrient is one that our body cannot produce on its own and must get from diet.
There are three most important omega-3s, namely ALA (Alpha-linoleic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA are mostly found in animal foods and algae.
ALA (Alpha-Linoleic Acid)
ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid found in our diet.
Most of the ALA consumed is used for energy - but it can also be converted to DHA and EPA internally in our body.
This conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA is however, inefficient. Only a small percentage of ALA gets converted to EPA and DHA, the biological active forms (more on this later). When ALA is not converted to EPA and DHA, it is simply stored as energy like other fats.
ALA is most commonly found in plant-foods, such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, chia seeds, walnuts etc.
Pro-tip: For vegetarian who can't take fish, they are encouraged to take a flaxseed oil supplement for omega-3 intake. Do note that only a small percentage of ALA gets converted to active forms of omega-3.
If you are not a vegetarian, the recommended source of omega-3 is still fish oil, or krill oil.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
EPA is mostly found in animal products, such as fatty fish and fish oil.
Our body uses EPA to produce a molecule called Eicosanoids, which helps to reduce inflammation in our body.
And chronic inflammation, is known to cause a range of negative health conditions, from asthma to cancer.
In short, EPA is an anti-inflammatory and is the main reason why most people need to be taking fish oil regularly.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an important structural component of your skin and the retinas in your eyes. It is also the predominant structural fatty acid in the central nervous system, crucial for brain development.
Taking adequate DHA in early-life improves brain development and prevents problems such as learning disabilities and ADHD.
During later-life, a decrease in DHA is often linked to impaired brain function and the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
DHA also may have positive effects on arthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancers.
How to choose a good fish oil brand
Fish oil is probably the most common supplement in Malaysia and has been popular for many years.
But there are so many different brands available in the market, which brand should you choose? How do you decide which is the best brand? What are some of considerations you need to take into account when choosing the right fish oil brand?
The whole reason why we are taking fish oil supplement is for the omega-3 content .
So this should be your top priority when comparing different brands: which brands offer the highest omega-3.
Always check the label at the back of the bottle to find out about the omega-3 content.
Pro-tip: Most brands would have 1000mg printed on the bottle, but if you check the omega-3 content, it normally has only about 300mg of omega-3
As you can see, this brand contains 550mg of Omega-3 only (330 mg of EPA and 220mg of DHA), eventhough it says 1000mg on the bottle. Picture courtesy of Vitamine Malaysia
Form of omega-3
There are generally two forms of fish oil: Ethyl Esters (EE) or Triglycerides (TG).
Fish oil in Triglycerides form are generally easier to be absorbed, but are most expensive.
Note: Check out this post if you want to know why TG fish oil is more expensive.
Most fish oil brands in Malaysia are in Ethyl Esters form.
Because our seas are polluted, fish often contain harmful levels of contaminants like mercury. Consuming too much fish oil that contains these contaminants can do harm to you body, so it's important to choose a fish oil supplement that is purified of contaminants.
Fish oil manufacturers use a process called molecular distillation to remove the toxins from the oil. When done correctly, molecular distillation is capable of reducing the toxins in fish oil to levels considered to be safe.
Make sure your fish oil is molecularly distilled - if unsure always check with the shop assistant or pharmacist/nutritionist.
Source of fish oil
Most nutritionists and dietitians consider wild-caught fish to be healthier than farm-sourced fish. You would generally pay higher price for fish oil derived from wild-caught fish.
We take fish oil for the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3.
But the omega-3 in fish oil is very susceptible to oxidative damage - damage caused by oxidation. Oxidized fish oil, or rancid fish oil will actually promote oxidation and inflammation in the body, which is exactly the opposite of what we are using fish oil for
Therefore it's very crucial to take fresh and not rancid fish oil.
Fish oil brands that are odourles are generally more expensive. Also some fish oil like Kordel's Fish Oil + Vitamin D and Blackmores Fish oil + evening primrose oil offer additional nutrients other than just fish oil.
Fish oil brands reviewed: Cheapest fish oil brand Malaysia
To make it easier for you to compare different brands, we have prepared this graph.
The graph below shows the costs to obtain 500mg of EPA and DHA from each brand. After all, it's not how much “oil” that matters, but how much actual EPA/DHA you get.
Keep in mind that prices may vary across merchants. Also, we are comparing the brands solely based on the price/ 500mg omega-3. We have not taken into account other features of the fish oil brands - such as its form (i.e TG vs EE), features (i.e Odourless, additional vitamin D etc), and source (i.e wild caught salmon fish oil).
So, when you are doing your fish oil shopping, do take this into consideration yourself. For example, how much extra are you willing to pay for a wild caught fish oil? or how much extra would you pay for odourless formulation etc.
In preparation of this price comparison, we have analyzed 20 different brands available in Malaysia. The list is sorted according to price/500mg of omega-3.
Full list of fish oil included in this comparison can be downloaded here.
Recommended top fish oil brands
After careful consideration, we have hand-picked these brands.
Top Pick 1: Nature's Bounty Omega-3 Fish Oil 1360
What we like:
Nature's Bounty is a reputable brand in the US so we are quite confident with its quality. This fish oil doesn't come in big pack size like other brands (i.e 2*120s), but its price is still very affordable.
Normally with health supplements, the bigger the pack size, the cheaper it is per capsule/tablet.
But like we mentioned earlier, fish oil that is not “fresh” or that has gone rancid can be harmful. With Nature's Bounty Omega-3 fish oil, you are paying about RM0.54 per 500mg of omega-3 eventhough you are just getting 90 capsules at a time.
Another thing we like about this brand is that it contains 950mg of omega-3 per capsule. That's three times more omega-3 than your normal fish oil - meaning you can just swallow one instead of three capsules a day.
You can get Nature's Bounty Omega-3 Fish oil here. (You can start a group buy in order to get even better wholesale price.)
Top Pick 2: Bio Life Omega Fish oil 1000mg
What we like:
Bio Life Omega Fish oil 1000mg is the most affordable fish oil we can get here in Malaysia. You will be paying around RM0.41 per 500mg of Omega-3.
However, in order to get it at this price, you need to be buying the 400 cap pack at a time. So we don't recommend it if you are the only person in the family taking it - even if you are taking 3 caps a day, 400 caps will last you at least 4 months. It will be very hard for the fish oil to stay fresh after being opened for so long.
Also, Bio Life omega-3 only offers 300mg of omega-3 per capsule. Most people would need to take at least 2 caps a day. If you don't like swallowing big pills, this brand might not be the best for you.
Having said that, if you are buying for the whole family, this is definitely the brand to go for. It's very affordable, and it's manufactured by a reputable brand.
Get Bio Life Omega-3 Fish oil 1000mg here.
Top pick 3: Kordel's Fish oil 1500mg + Vitamin D3
What we like:
Kordel's fish oil 1500mg + Vtamin D3 costs around RM0.61 per 500mg of omega-3, but for this price you are also getting 142 iu of Vitamin D.
But again, you need to get the 240 caps pack size in order to get this price. Each capsule provides 450mg of omega-3 and 142 iu of Vitamin D.
Get Kordel's fish oil 1500mg + Vitamin D3 here
Top pick 4: Pristin Fish Oil 1200mg
What we like:
Pristin is a very reputable brand especially when it comes to fish oil. It's one of very few brands available in Malaysia that has been tested and certified by the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards).
Each capsule contains 660 mg of omega-3, and you willl be paying around RM0.70 per 500mg of omega-3.
If you have pre-existing heart conditions, it's better to go for the Pristin Gold Fish oil. It contains 960mg of omega-3 per capsule and costs around RM 0.72 per 500mg of omega-3.
You can get Pristin Fish oil and Pristin Gold fish oil here.
We hope that after reading this post, you will know your fish oil a little better and hopefully our pricing guide will help you choose the best value fish oil brand.
To sum it all up, if you are taking less than 2 serves of fish a week, you need to be taking a fish oil supplement. We recommend taking:
- General health: 250 - 500 mg of omega-3 a day
- With preexisting heart condition: 1000mg of omega-3 a day
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: ADDITIONAL 200mg of DHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding to help baby's brain development.