The Truth About Fish Oil

The wrong fish oil can cause serious health damage

For all the talk about fish oil being the “cure all” of our time, I find it ironic that 95% of fish oil being sold and consumed is being delivered in a form that is not ideally absorbed by the body.

And I don’t say that lightly.

The problem comes from the way fish oil is processed.

In ancient times, fish oil was a staple. It had a long tradition and everyone understood its nourishing and energizing effects.

Even soldiers in the Roman army were given a ration of fish oil to support their strength, stamina and clarity of mind.

But back then, fish oil was made by hand and was usually fermented. This allowed for the fish oil to be transported and eliminated the danger of it spoiling.

Today, the process is much different and not nearly as effective.

Because almost all of the fish we eat contains heavy metals like mercury, fish oil must be decontaminated using a method called “molecular distillation.” Of course, making sure your fish oil is free from heavy metals and other toxins is critical, but the way they take out the toxins creates a new problem.

When found in nature, omega-3 fatty acids are in their natural triglyceride form (TG). However, in order to to purify the oil it is necessary to add ethanol (an industrial alcohol) to form a synthetic substrate.

In a vacuum, the mix is then distilled and the result is a concentrated omega-3 ethyl ester (EE) solution. Chemically, this new form replaces the glycerol backbone of the oil with ethanol.

The benefit is a pure fish oil, and the ability to concentrate the healthy omega-3’s like DHA and EPA. This is why almost all of the “highly concentrated” fish oils are in the EE form.

However, research is now showing that although this form of fish oil can yield higher concentrations of omega-3s, there are some absorbability issues.

The EE Form of Fish Oil Is Not As Easily Absorbed

According to multiple published studies the EE version was up to 50% less absorbable1 than the triglyceride form, and almost 300% less absorbable2 than the triglyceride form if not taken with a high fat meal.

So if you are going to take the EE form, make sure to consume it with a high fat meal at the very least.

What most people don’t know is that manufacturers can in fact convert the omega-3 concentrated EE form back into the healthy triglyceride form.

But manufacturers do NOT do it because the costs are significantly higher.

So instead, they sell you “powerful” fish oil that you have a hard time absorbing. Even worse, very few (if any) manufacturers of the EE form indicate that it is EE on the bottle.

How to Tell if Your Concentrated Fish Oil is EE or TG

This is a cool experiment (and fun for the kids).

  • 1. Get some small Styrofoam cups and put them on some paper towels.
  • 2. Take 3 of your fish pills and empty the liquid into one cup.
  • 3. Get a certified TG form bottle of fish oil and empty 3 of those into another cup.
  • 4. Wait 10 minutes.
  • 5. Come back and take a look!

If the cup has disintegrated, your pills are the EE form. If they are TG, there will still be liquid in the cup and very little if any disintegration.

Why this happens is under debate. I find it a little unsettling to watch the EE form eat into the cup… but remember we are not made of Styrofoam so it is doubtful the EE form is doing any actual damage.

It is simply not as powerful as advertised.

Stay tuned and I can share more about the benefits of the concentrated TG form.

Until next time,

SteveSisskind_sig
Steven Sisskind, M.D.

P.S. As you may have guessed, when we formulated our Omega-3 product we chose TG over EE even though it costs more. We also did two other things to make our Omega-3 product better than the rest. Click Here and learn why RealDose Super Critical Omega-3TG is the best omega-3 delivery system in the industry.

1. J Lipid Res. 1990 Jan; 31(1):137-Visioli F. Rise P, Barassi MC, Marangoni F. Galli C. (2003) Dietary intake of fish vs. formuations leads to higher plasma concentrations of n-3 fatty acids. Lipids, 38, 415-8

2. Lawson LD, Hughes BG., 1988. Absorption of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from fish oil triacylycerols or fish oil ethyl esters co-ingested with a high-fat meal. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Oct 31; 156(2):960-3

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8 comments

  1. I am presently using an Omega 3 product from Xymogen. It is listed as OmegsPure 600 EC-2 softgels per serving. How does this compare to your product. My nutritionist recommended it.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Dorothy,

      Thank you for writing in and for posting your concerns with us! I am not familiar with the brand name you mentioned but do know that it is essential to have a quality fish oil supplement in your diet to maintain overall health. Super Critical Omega-3 TG is extracted using supercritical CO2 extraction, a cutting edge new technology that allows for greater purity and concentration of the Omega-3’s.
      Whereas most fish oil supplements are manufactured using molecular distillation, an older technology in common use with most other products. In addition, Super Critical Omega-3 TG utilizes ClearEnteric soft gels, allowing for better absorption of the Omega-3’s in the small intestine, rather than the stomach. Hope this helps! make it a healthy day!

  2. I’ve been using the RealDose TG fish oil for a few years now and I am very pleased with it. I’ve been confronted by others who are also big fish oil proponents who insist that I should be using krill oil and that the fish oil I use should be sustainable. What are your thoughts?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Tom,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I completely understand your concerns and are here to clarify. We’re proud to bring you products that provide effective ingredients backed by sound science, including RealDose® Omega 3 TG. Fish oil continues to be the source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids with the most robust body of research supporting health benefits. Unlike krill oil, the omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil are not only in a natural triglyceride form, but also have a distinct ratio of the two key omega-3 fats—EPA and DHA. It’s this fatty acid composition and profile that has been the subject of numerous of clinical studies demonstrating the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Like Fish Oil, Krill oil contains both EPA and DHA, but to a lesser degree. While it has been the subject of a few limited clinical studies comparing it to fish oil, the results are very similar. In addition, krill—a shrimp-like crustacean that feeds off algae in deep ocean waters—is a major food source for fish, seals, whales, and other marine animals higher on the food chain. Harvesting krill for its oil may threaten the food supply of sea mammals. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  3. Does your Omega 3 have a fishy aftertaste?

    • Hi Sandi,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! RealDose Super Critical Omega-3 TG consists of purified and concentrated omega-3 fish oil through a process called Super Critical extraction. This special process yields amazingly pure oil that is standardized to 80% omega-3 fatty acid content. Also included is a special coating called, “ClearEnteric™” which allows our oil to bypass your stomach and dissolve in the small intestines instead. This increases absorption by 3X and helps eliminate fish burps. There is a slight amount of natural lemon/lime flavor and a proprietary antioxidant blend consisting of natural tocopherols in order to extend shelf life. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  4. I think that Nature Made fish oil is better than a bottle of Store Brand fish oil. What do you think?Why?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for writing in and for posting your concerns! I am not quite familiar with the brand name you are referring to but do know that Omega-3 that comes from natural sources are still the best to have. Omega 3’s come from sources such as fish, avocados nuts and seeds and studies show Omega 3 is effective at fighting inflammation. However, if you are unable to eat fish regularly, fish oil supplements are the next best thing. RealDose Nutrition offers a high grade fish oil supplement and is IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) certified. You can know more about it here: http://blogrd.wpengine.com/cart/store

      Hope this helps, Daniel! Have a healthy day!

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