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Enteric Coated Fish Oil

by Vin Kutty, MS on July 9, 2010

What is Enteric Coated Fish Oil? Do you need it?

Enteric coated fish oil does two things:

  1. It reduces fishy burps. Gross, I know.
  2. It protects the Omega-3 from harsh stomach acids. Stomach acids destroy some of the Omega-3 in fish oil. Enteric coating prevents that and gets more Omega-3 to end up where you need it.
Alan Roberts, our in-house expert on Omega-3, literally wrote the book on how enteric coated fish oil helps Crohn’s disease sufferers (non-enteric coated fish oil does not help, by the way) and promises to write a blog about it soon. Enteric Coated Fish Oil and Crohns Disease expert, Alan Roberts

Reducing fishy burps with enteric coated fish oil

‘Fishy burps’ is the #1 complaint about fish oil.

This is unpleasant if the oil is rancid or old. It is really bad with discount fish oil that is close to its expiration.

I usually don’t have this problem but occasionally, it happens. My wife complained about this when she first began taking fish oil pills. But now, she doesn’t have this problem either.

I’ve talked to several hundred fish oil consumers and the ‘burping’ issue always comes up with those who are new to fish oil. Your body gets the hint and stops bothering you after a couple of months.

Burping is not necessarily a sign of cheap or bad fish oil. It happens with all oils. You’d burp extra virgin olive oil if you took it in a pill. It’s just a bit more unpleasant when it happens with old, rancid fish oil.

Enteric-coated fish oil does not dissolve in the stomach. It stays intact until it gets to the intestines. So no burping.

The Science Behind Enteric Coated Fish Oil

Enteric coated fish oil in New England Journal of MedicineThe New England Journal of Medicine published a paper that proved that patients needed only one-third the amount of fish oil if it was enteric coated. Delivering omega-3 intact to the intestines instead of the stomach, allowed 3X as much Omega-3 to be absorbed into the phospholipid membrane. The study was done on patients with Crohn’s disease but the take away message about the absorption can be applied to healthy population as well. Another paper compared studies that used enteric coated fish oil capsules – three studies used enteric coated capsules with positive results and one used ordinary gelatin capsules (no advantage).

Controlling Fishy Burps

There are two major types of enteric coating

  1. Synthetic coating
  2. Natural coating

I prefer the natural option. I’m guessing you do too. But it’s not the most popular option. Why? Cost.

The synthetic stuff is cheaper.

Synthetic enteric coating is made from Methacrylic Acid Copolymer. This chemical is spray painted onto the outside of the pill. Large tumbling blenders that look like cement mixers are used to spray paint thousands of fish oil pills with this chemical. Enteric coated fish oil pills look frosty, not clear like regular pills.

Methacrylic Acid Copolymer (or MAC as it is called in the industry) prevents the fish oil pill from dissolving in the stomach. Instead, it stays intact in the stomach and dissolves after the pill has moved beyond the stomach into the intestines. Once the pill is in the intestines, you cannot burp it back up. At least that’s the idea behind the technology.

Is the synthetic enteric coating safe?

Yes. I’ve thoroughly researched, investigated and talked to the nice people at BASF who makes this chemical. The chemical has been on the market for 50 years and has a proven record of safety.

But still…when it was time for me to buy fish oil for my family or friends, I always went for the natural option.

I simply don’t want to eat something called ‘methacryclic acid copolymer.’ Just doesn’t feel right.

Some manufacturers try to hide this chemical by calling it ‘aqueous coating’ or other fancy terms that sound less like a chemical.

OK, what about natural enteric coating?

Natural enteric coating is made from seaweed (algae) or tree bark (cellulose). So you might see the word ‘alginate’ on the label. Sometimes it is also called ‘natural food glaze.’
This technology is not as effective as the synthetic one. And it’s more expensive. But it’s worth it if you want a natural alternative.

Enteric coating is not perfect

Unfortunately, the technology does not always work. Many people still burp up after taking enteric coated pills. This is because, like paint on your walls:
• Enteric coating can chip off
• Enteric coating can crack
• Coating may be too thin to be effective.

In any of these cases, you may notice burps.

Is there any risk to Enteric Coated Fish Oil?

The greatest risk of enteric coating is that it can mask the rank odor of rancid, old, low-quality fish oil.

This is why I hear the following complaints:

“Enteric coating is a gimmick to hide low quality oil.”
“Enteric coating is a way to inflate the price.”

The complaints are always from marketers selling non-enteric coated fish oil. Enteric coating is NOT a gimmick. But the complainers have a point! Some companies use enteric coating as an odor-masking agent for lousy oil. And they may charge you more for it.

 

Bottom-line: Enteric Coated Fish Oil

Enteric coated fish oil appears better absorbed than regular fish oil. And it will reduce fishy burps.  It’s a win-win. Especially if you start with high quality, pharmaceutical grade fish oil.

 


Author Vin Kutty writes about enteric coated fish oil About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author, and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Titus Pinckard July 14, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Good job!

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living with crohns disease July 15, 2010 at 5:03 am

I like this blog…excellent info. Will save it as a favorite. Is there a facebook page?

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Omegavia July 15, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Thanks. Yes, facebook.com/omegavia

Vin

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Hayley Mastro July 24, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Thanks, I’ve been looking for information on omega 3 recently since I heard it’s very important for a healthy brain and thats definitely important!

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Carroll B. Merriman August 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Informative piece – glad I found it. Will make sure to bookmark this blog

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vicky May 4, 2012 at 7:42 am

Dr. Rajen, the CEO of Holista Colltech, company of Pristin Fish Oil, had recently raised the concern on enteric coated fish oil. Kindly refer to the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150694879724503&set=a.162093269502.116386.159878584502&type=1&theater

He said that enteric coated is not popular and failed worldwide.

Please leave him a comment if you think enteric coated fish oil does have its benefits.

Thank you.

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Omegavia May 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Hi Vicky – I read that Facebook argument. There are not a lot of facts in that post. I don’t want to get in the middle of that so I will post my comment here. There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with taking fish oil that is not enteric coated, unless you have inflammatory digestive disorders. In that case, there is solid evidence that enteric coating helps. Here’s the research: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199606133342401

Unfortunately, these Harvard researchers compared enteric and non-enteric fish oil capsules for Crohn’s disease. In this study, enteric coating worked. Non-enteric coating did not. I know of no such comparisons for other health conditions. So I cannot say with full confidence that enteric coating will perform better for you if your health concern is say, joint pain or mood disorder. Not because it is not true, but because there is no published scientific literature. But if you want my educated guess, I would tell you that enteric coated pills probably enhance absorption, especially if you take it with a meal. I can easily make an argument FOR enteric-coating based on the above paper.

There are some companies that try to hide their low-quality oils behind enteric coating. That’s unfortunate. But this is not the case with most enteric coated products.

Enteric coating is not as popular as regular pills. That’s not because people dislike enteric coating or there are added costs. It is simply a matter of availability. About 20% of fish oil capsules sold in the US are enteric coated. Hope this helps.

- Vin Kutty

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scott June 28, 2012 at 12:54 am

“Unfortunately, these Harvard researchers compared enteric and non-enteric fish oil capsules for Crohn’s disease. In this study, enteric coating worked. Non-enteric coating did not.”

I was curious where this was noted, this is what I read from the link:

METHODS
We performed a one-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to investigate the effects of a new fish-oil preparation in the maintenance of remission in 78 patients with Crohn’s disease who had a high risk of relapse. The patients received either nine fish-oil capsules containing a total of 2.7 g of n-3 fatty acids or nine placebo capsules daily. A special coating protected the capsules against gastric acidity for at least 30 minutes.

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Omegavia June 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

Hi Scott – the Belluzzi paper was not a comparison of efficacy between enteric and non-enteric delivery forms. In that study, both arms were enteric coated, with the placebo containing caprylic and capric acid. That statement you quote was a comment to a consumer question, where I misspoke, or rather, mis-typed in that Turner et al are not the researchers from Harvard. The Turner paper is a systematic review that included three studies that used enteric coated fish oil pills that showed promise and one that was not enteric coated and that study showed ‘no advantage.’ The last word on potential superiority of enteric coating has not been written. Needs more research.
- Vin

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Afasci July 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hi, I was wondering if the absorption rate in the phospholipid membrane is better with naturally coated enteric fish pills or synthetic coated?

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Omegavia July 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

Hi – I don’t think there is any difference in the absorption between natural and synthetic enteric coating. They both work the same way and release the fish oil in the upper intestines.
- Vin

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Jon July 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Howcome the upper intestines can desolve them when the stomach acids cannot ?

Thanx

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Omegavia July 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Hi Jon – it has to do with the acidity. Enteric coating only dissolves when the acidity is low or neutral. The stomach is extremely acidic – more so than lime juice or vinegar. So the enteric coating does not dissolve in the stomach. But the upper intestine is fairly neutral. As soon as the fish oil pill passes into the upper intestine, the enteric coating starts to dissolve and the Omega-3 is released for digestion.
- Vin Kutty

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John August 4, 2012 at 3:24 am

You forgot a third benefit of enteric coating. I have a condition where I get heartburn and reflux. I had to stop eating meat because it would just sit in my stomach and cause heartburn and acid reflux. I have to be careful about what I eat. Specialists said I have 2 options, get 1950′s technology surgury which is useless or double my dose of PPI pills.

When I took regular omega fish oil, it caused a huge flare up but when I took enteric coating I had no problems.

So third benefit…. does not cause heartburn.

I’m still not sure if taking such a big capsule that hurts going down is safe for the opening entering the small intestine though.

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Omegavia August 4, 2012 at 11:21 am

Hi John – thanks for expanding on an additional benefit of enteric coating. Yes, the pill is large – we are working on introducing a smaller pill (Mini) in 2013. Hopefully that will help…but no need to worry about the pill being able to move from the stomach to the intestines – this happens quite easily.
- Vin Kutty

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Linda December 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Have there been an reports of the coating somehow being absorbed and finding it’s way into a person’s saliva? I had been taking an enteric coated fish oil softgel for about a year. My saliva feels/tastes like it’s composed of some kind of polymer now that forms into beads. I stopped taking it about 2 weeks ago, but the problem isn’t resolving.

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Vin Kutty December 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Hi Linda – I have not heard of this happening. Some enteric coated fish oils use a synthetic enteric coating material using something called methacrylate. If yours contains this, then it is technically possible to find traces in saliva. But even that would not have this effect given the levels at which it’s used. Enteric coating made with natural substances like alginate or cellulose are less likely to make your mouth taste like chemicals. My gut feeling is to say it is not the coating on your fish oil but something else – some other medication or substance that you are consuming. The fact that this did not go away after 2 weeks of stopping only reaffirms my view.
- Vin Kutty

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Jeanine January 22, 2013 at 3:55 am

I took Norwegian gold ultimate fish oils super critical omega for the first time today and I automatically got dizzy , nauseous, and shaky. I have I first took omega 3s of only 50mg because I have severe acid reflux I took them because I have purely obsessional ocd and it helped a significant amount but caused me severe acid indigestion and acid reflux. So I got these ones because they seem good quality and are enteric coated but I got sick right away.I don’t know what to do because I really need the omega 3 fish oil for my anxiety but I don’t want to get sick and flaxseed just doesn’t cut it.what do you think I should do? I ate it with food too and even froze them, maybe it’s too many milligrams to start with? I’m taking iron too I don’t. Know if that has anything to do with it?

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Jeanine January 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I also started getting heart palpitations and later at night started palpitating all over. In the morning I started getting. Really itchy, I got an allergic reaction to this fish oil. Their enteric coating also failed because I still got acid reflux an stomach problems. I really need to take fish oil but not sure which one to take without getting such a reaction. I need it for my anxiety it really helps but Im very sensitive. I’m only 21 and also I don’t know if my lack of iron and the iron supplements along with birth control change have anything to do with it or I’m just allergic?

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Vin Kutty January 23, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Hi Jeanine – Norwegian gold is a good product. I doubt that is the problem. If you react strongly to fish oils of all kind, then I suggest you go at the problem from a diet change perspective. Buy the book The Happiness Diet by Graham and Ramsey. It will help. In the meantime, you may also want to read this: http://www.omegavia.com/supplements-for-depression-anxiety/

- Vin Kutty

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Thomas Suppe RDMS,CLT February 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I wanted to first thank you for volenteering such good information to the public. I have recommended my patients at Baylor College of Medicine that are on pain medication to take enteric coating Omega3 products for years now. An additional benefit is when the capsule opens in the upper intestine it has a lubrication effect that allows for better paristolsis (bowel motility) and subsequent regular bowel movements when gastric secretion is lacking from narcotic pain medication. In laymens terms when pain medication causes constipation enteric coated fish oil is a natrual safe alternative to fiber or stool softner’s with the additional cardio vascular benefits.

The last point I will touch on is aging men can preserve the blood vessels responsible for erectile function that are notorious to fail by valvular incompetence .(bad vein valves) Men need these valves healthy to hold back the blood flow for normal erectile function. All the PDE5 inhibitors in the world such as sildenafil, tadalafil or vardenafil can not help a venous leak to attain an erection. The valves must be preserved before its too late and enteric coated fish oil is a great natrual preventive supplement to prolong a healthy sex life for men. Thank you again Mr Kutty.

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Vin Kutty March 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thank you, Tom, for sharing potential benefits that I had not even thought about!

- Vin Kutty

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yekta March 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Hi,
Omegas are suggested with antioxidants. For protection from oksidation.

Should i take coated omegas with antioxidants anyway? Enteric coat directly dissolve in the intestines, so do we need antioxidants taking by enteric coated fish oil?
Thanks.

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Vin Kutty March 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hi Yekta – enteric coating on the fish oil has nothing to do with whether you need antioxidants or not. Your body always needs antioxidants and it’s a good idea to take some Vitamin C or natural E in small doses.

- Vin Kutty

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Joe May 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm

In the article above you say:

The New England Journal of Medicine published a paper that proved that patients needed only one-third the amount of fish oil if it was enteric coated. Delivering omega-3 intact to the intestines instead of the stomach, allowed 3X as much Omega-3 to be absorbed into the phospholipid membrane.

Then you say, “Hi Scott – the Belluzzi paper was not a comparison of efficacy between enteric and non-enteric delivery forms. In that study, both arms were enteric coated, with the placebo containing caprylic and capric acid.”

Since it was the Belluzzi paper you mentioned up top, this is a huge contradiction and you seem to be refuting your own claim above. Do you mind clearing this up?

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Vin Kutty May 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Hi Joe – I see the confusion. ‘Scott’ had asked the same question and my answer to him in the comment section seems to have vanished into the interweb. I will clear up the confusion – it requires an explanation. But it has to do with an inter-paper comparison of Omega-3 incorporation rate into phospholipid between the NEJM paper and this one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7995183 It probably isn’t a fair comparison but the authors make a good point.

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Laura Simpson May 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thank you so much for this very important information.

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John July 2, 2013 at 2:45 am

It is important to note that, in the studies mentioned here in support of enteric coated fish oil, EPA & DHA were used in their free fatty acid form. As noted by the authors of the NEJM study, this could in large part account for the enhanced absorption observed.
Most commercial products contain ethyl esters or triglycerides, which require adequate lipase activity in the small intestine for proper breakdown and absorption.

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Cathy August 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I recently had a colonoscopy. I took my fish oil Tuesday am, then nothing until after my colonoscopy. During the procedure,the gi found undissolved fish oil capsules in the colon. Why wouldn’t they dissolve?

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Vin Kutty August 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Hi Cathy – I assume your pills were enteric coated to prevent burps. This happens if you are taking something that is acidifying your intestines. I often hear this from people taking apple cider vinegar or lots of citrus juices. The acidity from this will prevent the enteric coating from dissolving. Trust me – the fish oil pills not dissolving is the least of your problems. The problem is that you have intestines that has the wrong acidity. This seriously impacts how nutrients are absorbed and how well good probiotic bacteria can grow. More on that here: http://www.omegavia.com/why-enteric-coating-on-fish-oil-pills-fail/

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Cathy February 10, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I took enteric coated fish oil. I don’t drink juices of any kind(too much sugar-prefer to eat the actual fruit), nor do I take antacids, or drink vinegar. Vinegar actually burns my throat, so I avoid it even in dressings. I am not a vegan, though I don’t eat red meat, I eat chicken and fish only, lots of vegetables and salads. I have a problem with flour, so avoid it as much as possible. I gave up on the fish oil as my numbers were good with the high fiber supplement and the Metamucil I take, so my cardiologist wasn’t too unhappy I stopped the fish oil. And my gi didn’t seem to be concerned with the undissolved capsules. Thank you for your answer and the attached article.
Cathy

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Kate August 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Vin, maybe I missed it in the post, but which kind of enteric coating does OmegaVia have? Natural or synthetic?

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Vin Kutty August 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Natural.

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PJ May 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Hi, Vin,
I wrote to Nordic recently about why they do not use enteric coatings and they wrote back that enteric coatings interfere with the absorption of omega-3s because the digestive process for these nutrients must start in the stomach. If they hit the small intestine completely undigested, they won’t be absorbed at all. They likened it to “if you eat salmon, it isn’t enteric coated, but somehow, you still absorb all the omega-3s from it, right?”

What are your thoughts on this? And if enteric coating is really superior, why are the vast majority of quality fish oils unclothed? I mean, all those people who claim that Carlson’s Finest Fish Oil changed their lives; are they really only absorbing a fraction of what they think they are?

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Vin Kutty May 12, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Hi PJ – my thoughts on the ‘salmon isn’t enteric coated’ response is: very clever…try again.

For the most part, I/we operate under the assumption that enteric coating will not change absorption, even though there are some studies that hint at the possibility of slightly increased absorption. The argument that enteric coating reduces absorption is self-serving. While I’m sure a tiny amount of Omega-3 absorption begins in the stomach, hepatic lipase responsible for virtually all fat metabolism is not introduced into the gut until AFTER THE STOMACH. Omega-3 digestion is concentrated in the small intestines. If any of your Omega-3 is getting to your large intestines or worse, colon, then you’ve got much bigger problems than Omega-3 absorption. The point I’m trying to make is that we need to put aside absorption (marketing) claims made or denied by folks selling enteric/non-enteric or TG/EE products. If you pose these questions to the true experts in academia who are not selling anything, you will get an eye roll. I’ve seen it. :-)

So, why enteric coat or ‘clothed’ as you put? To stop the #1 complaint people have about fish oil – burping. ‘But our product is so pure that you won’t burp it up.’ is a common marketing/customer service mantra. For my response to this, read the first sentence. As long as oil has a lower density than water, it will float above the other ‘stuff’ in your stomach and you’re likely to burp it up. Burps from fresh fish oil are less offensive and so less noticeable.

People taking Carlsons, Nordic, OmegaVia are all absorbing it all wonderfully. Humans are well adapted to absorbing fats in all their glorious forms.

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jeff May 13, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Hi Vin,

Couple of questions for you,
1) have you heard of VESIsorb technology used by BioTrust Nutrition , similar to enteric coating, and what are your thoughts on the omega/krill 5x product that they sell?
2)How do we know if we are getting top grade fish oil, not old or rancid, and what product do you recommend?
3) Is it true that the recommended dose is 2.4g’s of omega 3′s and that the ratio should be higher of DHA to EPA, due to the fact that DHA is the predominant acid, at 97%, in our brain. this is what BioTrust Nutrition is asyong anyways. Another company , RealDose Nutrition is saying that the ratio should be 1.2 to .75g’s EPA/DHA respectively. Your thoughts please

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Vin Kutty May 13, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Hi Jeff – I’ve looked into Vesisorb technology. I think it is promising from a technology perspective and there may be some improvements in absorption. The problem is that each pill has only 160 mg of Omega-3. Is it better to take a small amount and have it well-absorbed (and pay a premium for it) or is it better to take the regular form of fish oil that is still well-absorbed and is so cheap?

About the product – well, you raise a lot of good questions. I don’t know the answers to some of them.

I’m not sure where the 2.4 grams of Omega-3 per day comes from, but I like the number. Vesisorb or not, try to get about 1000 mg of Omega-3 per day. If you eat well, you probably don’t need 2.4 grams, and if you don’t eat well, you may need more.

I don’t agree with the ‘high DHA is better’ notion. Yes, DHA is the prominent Omega-3 in the brain, but the brain only absorbs about 3 or 4 mg (yes, milligrams) of DHA per day and the half-life of DHA in the brain is a couple of years, so that argument is invalid. If you’re pregnant, get more DHA. More here: http://www.omegavia.com/why-omegavia-is-high-in-epa-omega-3-dha-and-your-brain/

My suggestion is to ignore all the marketing noise and just eat a lot of fish or take Omega-3 supplements regularly to get you an effective dose. Otherwise, you’re better off focusing on REDUCING Omega-6/sugar/refined flour content of your diet. That’s where you’ll improve your health the most.

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jeff May 13, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Hi Vin

Thanks for your answers.

Regarding the enteric coatings and the VESIsorb technology that i mentioned , the biggest thing I’m learning is that a lot of the omega 3′s are lost in the digestion process, in the stomach, and never make into the small intestine where it can then be more readily available to the bloodstream. so much of it is wasted. The studies are claiming that with the special coating the stomach can’t break the omega 3′s down, thus losing their effect, therefore we are essentially getting more of the omega 3′s where we need them. Thoughts??

Also, how do I know what a good quality fish oil is then? Im paying more for these because they say it costs more to produce them due to the coating process. I pay good money for them. So I assumed they are of high quality.
I googled the names of their top researchers and nutritionists and authors for their product and they are well known in the industry with good reputations i.e.: Brett Hall…….heard of him??

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Vin Kutty May 14, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Hi Jeff – all our Omega-3 pills are enteric coated. The reason is this: it prevents fishy burping. Fishy burping is the #1 reason why people stop taking fish oil supplements.

The arguments about absorption will continue on the internet, driven mostly by marketing language from both, companies that sell enteric coated products and companies that sell non-enteric versions. The truth is that we need more studies to definitively prove that there is/isn’t significant Omega-3 damage or destruction in the stomach due to stomach acidity. It is plausible, but we don’t know the details. Some argue that enteric coating prevents absorbtion. I will admit that we may be guilty of participating in this debate but for the most part, I think you ought to ignore the absorbtion arguments from both sides.

As a nation, our fish consumption (and by extension, Omega-3 consumption) has been going down since 2005. So it is more important than ever to get Omega-3 any way you can. If adding enteric coating keeps people taking their supplements, that is the right thing to do.

How do you know what is a good quality fish oil supplement? We got a few articles about that topic here:
https://www.omegavia.com/best-fish-oil-supplements/
http://www.omegavia.com/ifos-approved-fish-oil-i/

Enteric coating is NOT A GUARANTEE of good quality. You need to consider several other factors that I have detailed in the articles above.

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Ivan July 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Hi Vin,

Since the oil is dissolved in small intestines, it means that in the stomach it is still (or mainly) undissolved. This is, as I understand, a natural occuring process. What reactions can occur in stomach between EE form of oil and other enzimes? Will/can it lead to instability of EE or any type of adverse reaction? How much of omega 3 is actually destroyed by stomach acids?

If oils in EE form don’t naturally occur in stomach, it seems logical that the EE oil for should always be enteric coated, because after coating dissolves in small intestine, EE is released. Is EE directly absorbed by small intestines, or it needs to be further dissolved?

Following same logic, would it be wise to avoid non-coated EE oils?

I have no problems with burping.

Looking forward to your comment!

Thank you!

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Vin Kutty, MS July 24, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Hi Ivan – a small amount of gastric lipase can begin digesting oils in the stomach. This step is skipped with enteric coated fish oils. This is somewhat insignificant because hepatic lipase is fully capable of digesting the de-esterified oil. We do not know exactly how much of the Omega-3 is destroyed by stomach acids.

I am not aware of any instability or adverse reactions due to this. Theoretically, I don’t see a reason for concern, but in some individuals with severely disturbed intestinal acidity, enteric coated capsules do not full dissolve. This is very rare and these individuals will have other much bigger problems due to the ph imbalance and the probiotic-unfriendly gut.

All EE oils do not need to be enteric coated. The body is capable of deesterification prior to lipolysis – the pancreatic lipase hydrolyzes the fatty acids from the ethanol backbone. The free fatty acids are taken up by the enterocytes in the small intestines and reconverted to TG.

No need to avoid uncoated EE oils. The coating is primarily to prevent burping. If you dont have that issue, your options are wider.

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Ivan July 24, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Vin, thanks for your answers!

I found one piece of info on Nutrigold site (http://www.nutrigold.com/blog/to-coat-or-not-to-coat-the-case-against-entericcoating-of-fish-oil-softgels/), which mentions the importance of emulsification in fat digestion. What is your stand on that? Is emulsification really “crucial”? Could fat emulsification be the reason for slightly better absorption of TG vs EE?

Thank you!

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Vin Kutty, MS July 25, 2014 at 3:21 am

Hi Ivan – I don’t think emulsification has much to do with the slightly better/faster absorption of TG oils. The fatty acids-on-ethanol backbone of EE oils are somewhat slower to respond to lipase. This is the key issue in the difference. Emulsification by bile salts etc is secondary in my opinion. If EE oils are taken with a meal or taken daily, this difference will become much smaller.

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Sonia August 28, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I have severe plaque psoriasis and take fish oils which is what led me to this site, are there any you would suggest for my condition?

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Vin Kutty, MS August 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Hi Sonia – this is an inflammatory condition. You can cure or largely manage it with a dramatic diet change. Try 2000 mg of Omega-3 per day. Fish oils alone wont fix it because you will need to cut out inflammatory foods as well.

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