Tag Archives: supplement

Comparing cost effectiveness of fish oil supplements

fish-oil-companiesA little while ago, I made a post about the cost effectiveness of protein supplements, and I found it useful enough that I thought I’d do another one that’s basically the same but looks at fish oil supplements.

Once again, I’m not really going to go into any real depth as to why I take fish oil. If you are interested, Lyle McDonald has a good article on supplements, and Martin Berkhan has one specifically about omega 3s (though it’s pretty dense).

For this post, I just took a look at a couple brands that I’ve used or read about in the past and compared how much you’re getting for your money. Here’s the table:

fishoiltable

And here’s how to make sense of the table:

  • Cost per bottle – Just like last time, since we’re talking about value, the absolute cost per bottle doesn’t mean much, but this is the cost of the bottle that I’m evaluating.
  • DHA and EPA per serving – When we talk about fish oil, we don’t actually care about the volume of the fish oil. It’s the DHA/EPA omega-3 content of each tablet that we want.
  • Serving Size – Serving size does not affect the value of the pills, but it is useful to know how many soft gels you’ll be taking per day.
  • Soft gels per 3g DHA/EPA – Once again, I’m not going to get into how much fish oil one should take per day, but a common recommendation is 3g DHA/EPA, so this is just the number of soft gels you’ll have to take on a daily basis to hit this goal.
  • Cost per g DHA/EPA – This is the cost per bottle divided by the DHA/EPA per serving divided by the servings per bottle. It tells you how much you’re paying per gram of EPA/DHA.

The two cheapest fish oils I found were both by Kirkland. I personally prefer Kirkland’s Enteric Coated Fish Oil because:

  • I don’t have to take 10 of them per day to hit 3g DHA/EPA
  • It’s got an enteric coating (which supposedly prevents fish burps)
  • It appears to be Meg-3 certified. I read the link and still don’t really know what it is, and I’m sure it’s a scam, but it sounds cool, so I refuse to use products without it.

One last thing I’ll note is that I added Nature Made to the list because it always seems to be on sale in grocery stores with 2-for-1 deals. However, it actually ends up being almost double the price (per g DHA/EPA) as Kirkland’s Enteric Coated Fish Oil (and requiring double the soft gels per serving), and I’m guessing that it’s only 2-for-1 when the original price has been marked up by 100%. So watch out.

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A few thoughts on cheap protein supplements

optimumI’ve been buying protein supplements for the past few years without actually knowing whether I was getting a good deal, so I figured I’d finally do some math and share it. I took the four protein supplements I’ve used most in the past and looked at how much they cost per stuff inside the protein powder. Here’s the table I made:

proteintable

Here’s how to made sense of this table:

  • Cost – Since we’re trying to figure out what the best deal is, absolute cost doesn’t actually matter. However, you will generally get a better deal as you buy bigger jugs/sacks of protein, so I listed the cost of the jug/sack on which I was evaluating the value.
  • Cost/oz – This is the cost of the jug divided by the mass of the powder inside of it. I’d best describe it as “how cheap the powder seems.” However, we don’t care about the mass on its own because the mass could just be a bunch of cheap filler.
  • Cost/serving – This is probably one of the more useful metrics as it tells you how much you’re paying for whatever it is that the manufacturer is advertising in their “nutritional information” panel.
  • Cost/g protein – This metric is interesting if you only really care about the protein and you just want to know how much each gram of protein costs.

Putting everything together, I’ve concluded in my very non-scientific survey that Syntha 6 seems the cheapest, but it’s actually a bit more expensive per serving. This is possibly because you’re also paying for all of the other stuff they put in Syntha 6 (fiber, vitamins, minerals, unicorn tears). This is also possibly because they have a pretty, translucent red bottle, so they think you’ll value it more. In any case, if you just want cheap protein, Optimum Gold Standard Whey seems like the way to go.

That said, there are a bunch of other factors that you may want to consider when buying protein like:

  • total number of calories
  • amino acid profile
  • speed of absorption
  • taste
  • what color it makes your poop1

…but I don’t plan to get into that on this blog as I’d just end up summarizing The Protein Book, so if you’re interested, you can probably just go straight to his blog. Good luck!

1Just kidding about that. Protein powder shouldn’t actually change the color of your poop. If it does… you may want to get that checked out.

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