A Smart Guide to Buying Supplements

By Tod Cooperman, MD, President, ConsumerLab.comConsumerLab.com is offering a 24-hour free pass to Dr. Oz viewers. Visit ConsumerLab.com/DoctorOz now and get immediate access to ConsumerLab.com’s unbiased testing of fish oil, ginseng and St. John’s Wort supplements.

Posted on | By Tod Cooperman, MD
  • Don’t be fooled by the amount of “fish oil” on the front of the label. Instead, look for the amounts of EPA and DHA listed on the back of the bottle.
  • You’ll need at least 500 mg per dose of the omega-3s EPA and DHA. You’ll need a higher daily amount to treat some conditions; to avoid having to take too many softgels, pick a liquid or a product with a higher concentration of omega-3s.
  • Look out for oils that have gone rancid (this is hard to tell before you buy) or will go rancid (near their “best by” date). If you choose a bottled oil, use it up within two to three weeks of opening and always close tight and refrigerate.
  • You don’t have to pay a lot. There are good omega-3 oil supplements on the market for as little 5 or 6 cents per 500 mg of omega-3.
  • Of the products tested, Life Extension’s Super Omega and AdvoCare Omegaplex Omega-3s are among those that passed ConsumerLab.com’s tests.

St. John’s Wort
This supplement has long been considered a natural and safe way of treating mild and moderate depression with fewer side effects than other antidepressants.

Scam: In a study conducted by Consumerlab.com, more than 40% of the St. John’s Wort products tested either didn't contain the promised amount of the active ingredient, or were contaminated with small amounts of cadmium, which is both a kidney toxin and a carcinogen.  


  • St. John’s Wort is not for the occasional “blues,” but for mild to moderate forms of major depression. Allow several weeks for full effect.
  • Look for a product providing 300 mg taken three times daily of extract standardized to either 0.3% hypericin or 1% to 3% hyperforin.
  • Of the products tested, Nature’s Way’s Pereka St. John's Wort and Nature’s Bounty’s double-strength St. John's Wort are among those that passed ConsumerLab.com’s tests.

Article written by Tod Cooperman, MD
President, ConsumerLab.com