Monday, September 27, 2010

Omega 3 Products Vary Dramatically in "Bioavailability"

I know that you are probably taking fish oil supplements, because anyone reading this site is particularly health-savvy. But did you know that there is a great deal of difference in the "bioavailability" of the different kinds of fish oil products?

First off, let me explain what this term means. Many times when we take our vitamins and supplements only a fraction of the ingredients actually get ingested and used by our body. Much of the vitamin pill, or omega-3 supplement, goes right out the digestive tract and exits the body. In other words, the "bioavailability" of the supplement isn't very high. This happens all the time with certain products like Co-Q 10, fish oil, and even certain herbs. Some manufacturers include additional ingredients in with their products to ensure that more of the actual product becomes available to the body. For example, I take a Co-Q 10 that has a substance added to it that increases it's absorbability. Another product with improved absorption is Verde Botanica's Rhodiola product, Mind Body & Spirit, which contains a trace amount of a clinically-tested ingredient made from an extract of pepper, and this increases the bioavailability -- making the Rhodiola effect much more noticeable.

But in fish oil, it's always been questionable which variety of oil has the most impact on the body. Now, a new report shows that a certain type of processing of the oil can improve its bioavailability as much as 50%. That form of oil is called ""re-esterified triglycerides." That's a mouthful, but basically if you ask your supplier how they process their omega 3 oils, they'll be able to answer you, and it will be one of three types.

These various forms of fish oil include free fatty acids (FFA), ethyl esters (EE) or as re-esterified triglycerides (rTG). The latter term refers to products made from fish body oil in which the approximate 30 percent TG content is transferred to ethyl esters and then molecularly distilled to remove the short chain and the saturated fatty acids increasing the EPA and DHA contents to around 60 percent. This is a long way of saying that researchers using different oils have found that if you take one additional step in the processing of that oil, you can give the product 50% more bang for the buck.


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