Bioavailability of triglycerides vs. ethyl ester fish oils

Solstice Goat

Frater Aegagrus
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Location
Seattle, WA
Lenghty and technical, but well worth the effort.

Like the post differentiating types of B-12, we must be diligent in the selection of our fish oil supplements.

Numerous studies have assessed the absorption and bioavailability of EE fish oils. Most studies have measured the amount of EPA and DHA in blood plasma after ingestion of fatty acids as either TG or EE. Although a few studies have found that the absorption rate is similar between the two types of oils, the overall evidence suggests that TG fish oils are better absorbed in comparison to EE. Natural TG fish oil results in 50 % more plasma EPA and DHA after absorption in comparison to EE oils11, TG forms of EPA and DHA were shown to be 48 % and 36 % better absorbed than EE forms12, EPA incorporation into plasma lipids was found to be considerably smaller and took longer when administered as an EE13, plasma lipid concentrations of EPA and DHA were significantly higher with daily portions of salmon in comparison to 3 capsules of EE fish oil14 and in the rat, DHA TG supplementation led to higher plasma and erythrocyte DHA content than did DHA EE15 and a higher lymphatic recovery of EPA and DHA16.

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kind2creatures

...elusive dreamer
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Location
USA
Thanks for sharing this good information Solstice Goat, much appreciated. I didn't see this thread, until just now.

I read a small article in the newspaper today, about the importance of getting the natural triglyceride form of DHA and EPA, as opposed to the resynthesized ethyl ester form.

So I checked my NOW brand of liquid fish oil which I've been using for years and recommending to others on the forum. I'm happy to say that it is the preferred triglyceride form. http://www.nowfoods.com/Supplements/Products-by-Category/Nutritional-Oils/Fish-Omega-3-Krill-Oils/M041371.htm

Checked the Barlean's that I've been giving my husband, and although it appeared to be high quality (and expensive), it does not specify, so it's likely the synthetic form.

(from Fortifeye.com)Two types of readily available omega three fish oils are ethyl ester and triglyceride

The natural triglyceride form of fish oil should go thru molecular distillation to purify the oils. A typical natural triglyceride form of fish oil will have a concentration of about 180 EPA and 120 DHA.

The synthetic ethyl ester version uses ethanol in the distillation and concentration process during transesterification to produce a higher concentration of EPA and DHA.

During this process the natural triglyceride backbone is replaced with an ethyl ester backbone. This produces a fairly pure and highly concentrated omega three fish oil. This concentrated form of fish oil can obtain 450 EPA and 300 DHA in one capsule.

In order to convert the ethyl ester back to the more natural triglyceride form, one more step of transesterification must be done to replace the ethyl ester based backbone with a triglyceride backbone the way it occurs naturally in ocean fish.

Many fish oil companies will not go that extra step due to cost! It is almost 50% more expensive to go through this final step to convert the synthetic ethyl ester fish oil back to more natural triglyceride based fish oil.

Almost all of the leading authorities on omega three fish oil will agree that the triglyceride form is more stable and bioavailable over the cheaper synthetic ethyl ester version. Most patients using this triglyceride form of fish oil will have fewer problems with burp back of the nasty fish taste common to some fish oils.

Ethanol is a free radical and ethanol can potentially cause free radical damage in the body. The amount of ethanol in this form of fish oil is relatively low (.1%-.5%) but certain groups of populations should be avoiding ethanol completely.

You can do a quick test at home to see what type of fish oil you have. If fish oil eats thru a Styrofoam cup in thirty minutes or less, this may be related to the ethanol content.

Spend a little extra money and ensure you are getting the most concentrated bioavailable form of fish oil, and take only triglyceride based fish oil. If it doesn't say natural triglyceride or TG form, then it is probably ethyl ester based.

Certain European countries like Denmark do not allow the sale of ethyl ester fish oil over the counter, only the triglyceride form. Ethyl ester fish oil in these countries is controlled with prescription. The overall cost per absorption ratio makes the concentrated triglyceride form of fish oil a better value than the ethyl ester version.
 

kind2creatures

...elusive dreamer
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Location
USA
When I went to buy my husband NOW brand Omega 3 softgels, I notices that only the liquid fish oil was in the natural triglyceride form.

I ordered some "Nutrigold" brand softgels, and they are in the preferred form. :)
 

kind2creatures

...elusive dreamer
Joined
Apr 5, 2009
Location
USA
That's one thing I haven't bought from Costco, their brands of any vitamins. I think I remember their fish oil in clear plastic jars, under the bright store lights, I'm sure even if it was a quality product, that packaging would destroy it.
 

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