As consumers become more literate about nutritional supplements, there is a move towards greater sales of enteric coated fish oil capsules. So I wanted to examine exactly what enteric coated Omega 3 capsules really are, what they do, and whether you are being ripped off when you buy them.
There’s little doubt about the health benefits of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. It is recommended by just about all health professionals that we increase our intake of these important essential fatty acids. There are many health reasons including an improvement in heart and vascular health, a decrease in the risk of various cancers and an improvement in many other areas of your health.
However just because the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oils are healthy does not mean that they should be delivered in an enteric-coated capsule.
The principle of enteric coating is simple. There are many vitamins, minerals and other healthy substances which are good for us, but which, if delivered to our stomach, are dissolved by stomach acids and which therefore rendered useless.
The principle of an enteric-coated fish oil capsule, or for that matter any enteric-coated capsule, is that the coating of the capsule is not dissolved by stomach acid but does dissolve in the intestine. This allows the contents of the capsule to pass through the stomach, where they would be destroyed, and to be released in the intestine where they are not.
This all sounds eminently sensible. Surely it must be a good argument for all of us to buy enteric coated fish oil supplements. However this misses one important point. The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are not destroyed by stomach acid. In fact it is better that they be released in the stomach rather than in the intestine.
Once you understand this simple point you can see a powerful argument for non-coated fish oil capsules. And this is in fact the case. An enteric coating on Omega 3 supplements is entirely unnecessary, adds to the cost and reduces the effect of those all-important essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.
In fact the company which makes what I consider to be the world’s best Omega 3 supplements specifically avoid using an enteric coating on its Omega 3 capsules for the reasons I’ve outlined above, even though it does use such a coating on some other of its products.
There is however another matter to consider. Some people experience mild side-effects when taking certain cheap brands of Omega 3 supplements. These side-effects could be described as a fishy odor and after taste, or “fishy burps”. However these side effects have nothing to do with an enteric coating on the capsules.
Various cheap brands of Omega 3 supplements use fish oils from wholesalers. In many cases these oils can be old, and have gone off. This is technically known as “rancid” fish oil. Rancid fish oil will produce that fishy odor and after taste, and is also not good for your health.
And some manufacturers of Omega 3 fatty acids capsules will use an enteric coating to mask poor quality fish oil, because these capsules pass through the stomach into the intestine before the oil is released, and a fishy after taste is not experienced there.
There’s no doubt at all about the health benefits of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. 3 decades of studies have shown the health benefits, some of which include reductions in your risk of death. These are significant health benefits.
However if you have been recommended to buy enteric coated fish oil gels, then you’ve been sold a lie. An enteric coating on Omega 3 fish oil capsules is totally unnecessary and just adds to the cost.