Omega-3 fatty acids are a hot topic these days with more natural health supplement options and more food companies adding it to products like dairy, eggs, baby food, bread, pasta, and even beverages. Companies continue to research the best sources, forms and processes to provide a pure, concentrated, easy to digest and highly absorbable form of Omega-3. There are many Omega 3 supplements to choose from, most which are fish oil. However, as with any product, the quality and related benefits can vary greatly. Let’s have a look at the important factors to consider when selecting a fish oil supplement.
1. Look for signs of rancid oil
Indigestion, fishy burps or even a foul smell are signs of rancid product. Reasons for this could be too much heat exposure during processing or in storage; light damage; poor source of fish oil; or oxygen damage. It might also be an inability to break down the larger fat molecules found within fish oil supplements, which can cause indigestion.
2. Fish oil form impacts digestion
According to research done by Dr. Michael Gross, M.D. and Dr. Susan Klein, M.D. at Physician Recommended Nutriceuticals, the triglyceride form is the most easily digestible and effective form for absorption. It’s also the form found naturally occurring in fish. The ethyl ester form is another form option and while it comes with a lower price tag, studies point to it being less absorbable and having a higher chance of rancidity.
3. Emulsification improves absorption
More progressive companies are taking one more step to ensure that fish oil is easy to absorb. The process of emulsification using natural substances is now being done with fish oil and this turns the larger fat globules found in the oil into smaller micro-droplets. This allows the oil to be easily diffused into the small intestinal tract and studies show that it increases absorption and assimilation into the cells, including for those who suffer from digestive issues. The added bonus of emulsification is it gives the oil a creamy texture, making it easy to swallow for even the pickiest of eaters.
4. Source and purity
Purity begins at the source. Fish oil should be certified by a sustainable fishery for both health and environmental reasons. Small body cold water fish tend to be a better source than larger fish because of their shorter life span. They are lower on the food chain and generally accumulate fewer heavy metals during their lifetime. The oil of the fish is where heavy metals tend to accumulate, so purification is required to ensure a clean fish oil supplement. Today, molecular distillation is considered to be the gold standard used to purify fish oil and this allows for the oil to be concentrated, providing higher levels of the EPA and DHA fatty acid.
To maximize freshness, fish oil should be kept in an opaque bottle in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. Once home, it should be stored in the refrigerator- after all, you wouldn’t store fresh fish on your counter. If you follow these tips when choosing your fish oil supplement, you should reap the benefits and eliminate any issues. As always, your local health food store will be happy to answer any further questions and point you in the right direction.