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General Questions About Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are considered essential because the body cannot make them on its own; they must be consumed in the diet or through supplementation. There are at least ten types of omega-3 fatty acids that exist in nature. However, the three most researched forms for human health are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
ALA is present in some plants and plant oils, such as flaxseed, while EPA & DHA are mainly present in fish, fish oils, and krill oil. ALA is considered a “parent” omega-3 because it can be converted into EPA and DHA in healthy individuals. However, because the ability to convert ALA into EPA and DHA may be compromised in some individuals, it may be necessary to consume omega-3s as EPA and DHA from the diet (e.g. fatty fish) or through supplementation to ensure optimal health.
What benefits do omega-3 fatty acids provide?
In addition to being key structural components of cell membranes in the human body, omega-3 fats also support heart, cognitive, eye and joint health. While EPA has been researched for supporting a healthy inflammatory response in the body, DHA has been researched for its ability to maintain brain health and membrane fluidity making it especially important for healthy brain, eye, and nervous system development. While EPA and DHA both offer unique and specific benefits, they also work synergistically to support overall health, which is why many supplements provide both omega-3 fatty acids.
What are some dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids?
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is considered a parent omega-3 fatty acid, can be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. In fact, it is the primary source of omega-3s for individuals who are on vegan or vegetarian diets. Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA are predominantly found in marine sources like algae, fish, and other seafood. However, the omega-3 content in fish can vary based upon species and source. Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines tend to provide the greatest amount of omega-3s. If interested in exploring further, the Linus Pauling Institute has compiled two helpful tables that list the top food sources EPA/DHA and ALA along with the estimated amount of omega-3 fat they provide per serving - https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/essential-fatty-acids
What are some risk factors for an omega-3 deficiency?
A diet that contains a regular intake of cold-water fatty fish and ALA-rich seeds and nuts can typically supply the body with adequate amounts of omega-3 fats. However, today’s over-reliance on processed, nutrient deficient foods can sometimes provide an obstacle to consuming adequate amounts of omega-3s. Unfortunately, a deficiency in omega-3s is often difficult to diagnose due to a lack of accepted testing methods. Some symptoms that may develop from a deficiency include dry or irritated skin, dry eyes, joint stiffness, thinning hair, and mental health challenges. If concerned that you may be at risk for an omega-3 deficiency, please work with a healthcare professional to determine what dietary or supplemental changes/additions may be necessary to support your unique health goals.
What is the difference between the triglyceride and ethyl ester forms of omega-3 fatty acids?
Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids in one of three forms—natural triglyceride (TG), ethyl ester (EE), or re-esterified TG (rTG). From a structural perspective, the omega-3 fatty acids in the EE form are bound to an ethanol background and the omega-3 fatty acids in the TG and rTG forms are bound to a glycerol backbone.
In terms of bioavailability, the natural TG form is the most bioavailable and this is the form that is present in natural food sources of omega-3s (e.g. fatty fish). A drawback of this form of omega-3 fatty acids is the concentration of omega-3s is somewhat low (approximately 25% to 30%) and higher doses may be required to meet recommended daily allowances.
The vast majority of omega-3 supplements provide omega-3s in the ethyl ester (EE) form. This form is considered semi-synthetic because it does not occur in nature and this form is thought to be less bioavailable in the human body than other omega-3 forms.
The re-esterified triglyceride (rTG) form is derived by re-converting or re-constituting the EE fatty acids back to the TG form. As such, the rTG form is chemically similar to the natural TG form, more bioavailable than the EE form and allows for higher concentration of omega-3s than the natural TG form.
What is the recommended intake amount of omega-3s to help ensure nutritional adequacy?
A Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) has not been established for omega-3 fats the way it has been for most micronutrients. However, health experts agree that regular consumption of omega-3s is important for supporting whole-body health and the following are some general guidelines established by the different organizations—
- The American Heart Association encourages people to consume at least 2 servings of oily fish weekly.
- For those that fail to regularly consume fish, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends taking a two-gram fish oil supplement several times a week.
- The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) recommends healthy adults consume at least 500 mg of EPA+DHA each day to support cardiovascular health.
- The World Health Organization has established an AMDR (acceptable macronutrient distribution range) for EPA+DHA of 250 to 2000 mg per day. (Source)
Because individual health needs and goals can and do vary, it is important to talk to a licensed medical professional to determine whether supplementation is indicated and, if yes, the therapeutic dosage needed to achieve desired results.
Is there an established upper toxicity limit for omega-3s?
The Food and Nutrition Bard (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine has not established an Upper Tolerable Limit (UL) for omega-3s. However, it is generally not recommended to consume more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA + DHA + other omega-3 fatty acids) from diet and supplements per day except under the guidance and supervision of a healthcare provider.
What are some factors to consider when choosing a fish oil supplement?
Depending on your reason(s) for supplementing with an omega-3 supplement and your personal preferences, it may be helpful to consider one or more of the following factors so you can be assured you are making the purchasing decision that is right for you—
- Source of the oil—fish, plant, algae
- Structure or form of the omega-3 fatty acids—ethyl ester (EE), natural triglyceride (TG), or re-esterified triglyceride (rTG)
- Amount of omega-3s (EPA+DHA) per serving—500 mg, 750 mg, 1000 mg (or more)
- Purity of the oil—tested for heavy metals, PCBs, Dioxins, radioactive contaminants
- Freshness of the oil—oxidation, rancidity
- Sustainability of the source—environmentally sustainable or renewable source
- Third-party tested or certified—IFOS, ConsumerLab
- Evidence that what’s on the label is, in fact, in the bottle—Certificate of Analysis
- Value—cost per gram of omega-3 fatty acids
Can omega-3 fish oil supplements be taken with OTC or prescription medications?
If you are taking or planning to take an OTC or prescription medication or planning a medical procedure, please consult a licensed pharmacist or your healthcare provider before beginning supplementation to minimize risk of side effects associated with potential supplement-drug interactions.
Still have questions?
For general information about omega-3 fats, check out the resources below—
- Omega-3 Fact Sheet for Consumers — Office of Dietary Supplements
- Essential Fatty Acids — Linus Pauling Institute
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids — Harvard School of Public Health
- GOED - Omega-3s for Consumers
For specific guidance on the suitability of omega-3 fish oil to support your particular health goals, please talk to your healthcare provider.
Questions about NutriGold Fish Oil Products
What is the source of the fish oil in NutriGold fish oil products?
The fish oil in NutriGold's fish oil products are 100% sourced from the USA and manufactured to stringent IFOS standards. All of our fish oil products are sourced from Alaska Pollock, native to the cold ocean waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. The Bering Sea is known to be one of the world’s most pristine and productive ecosystems for marine life. The fisheries that we source our omega-3 oil from are certified sustainable by MSC (Marine Stewardship Council). a highly respected third-party verification for sustainable fishing practices. For more information on the Marine Stewardship Council, including their standards, processes, and initiatives, please visit https://www.msc.org/en-us/
What does the “r-Triglyceride” or rTG form mean? Will this negatively impact blood triglyceride levels?
Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids in triglyceride (TG), ethyl ester (EE), or r-triglyceride (rTG) form.
Omega-3s that occur in nature (e.g. in fish) are in the TG form and, from a chemical structure perspective, this means the omega-3s are bound to a glycerol backbone. This form is considered highly bioavailable. The drawback is that the overall concentration of omega-3s that occur naturally in most marine sources is low (25% to 30%), which means higher intakes may be required to meet recommended dosages.
Sometimes, companies will convert the omega-3s in the natural TG form to the ethyl ester (or EE) form. From a structural perspective, the omega-3s in the EE form are bound to an ethanol backbone. The conversion of the TG form to the EE form is generally done to achieve high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids while keeping the cost per gram of omega-3s affordable for the vast majority of consumers. There is some evidence that this form of omega-3s is synthetic and may suffer from poor bioavailability because omega-3s don’t occur in nature in the EE form and the body may need to reconvert it to an usable form when taken as a supplement.
NutriGold's fish oil products are offered in the r-Triglyceride (or rTG) form which is considered to be more bioavailable than the common ethyl ester form of fish oil while still providing high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. This is accomplished by re-converting or re-constituting the EE fatty acids back to the TG form (removing the fatty acids from the ethanol backbone and re-attaching them to the glycerol backbone).
Even though the TG and rTG forms of omega-3 fatty acids have the same chemical name as the unhealthy "triglycerides" in the body, they do not raise serum triglyceride levels. In fact, the omega-3 fatty acids in the TG form actually help support healthy triglyceride levels already within the normal range. Regardless, we encourage you to discuss any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider prior to supplementation so you can be assured that the product can, in fact, help support your health goals.
How does NutriGold ensure the purity of the ingredients used in its omega-3 fish oil products? Are they tested for heavy metals (e.g. mercury) and other marine contaminants?
NutriGold's fish oil products are sourced from Alaska Pollock, native to the cold ocean waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. Alaska Pollock are known to be naturally low in toxins and heavy metals. In fact, the American Heart Association considers the Pollock species of fish to be safe enough even for pregnant women to meet required amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, all of our fish oil products are molecularly distilled to remove heavy metals and other potential contaminants.
Every lot of our fish oil products is third-party tested for compliance with IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) for purity, potency, and freshness. The IFOS 5-star program is the most trusted third-party testing and certification program exclusively for fish oils. If interested, you can view lot-specific third party testing results on our website and at http://certifications.nutrasource.ca/
Each IFOS report includes detailed testing results for freshness (TOTOX), as well as potency, marine contaminants, and heavy metals. Every lot of our fish oil products has been and continues to be IFOS 5-star certified and we haven't had a single lot since we first started manufacturing fish oil supplements that has not met the IFOS program's stringent requirements.
What assurance can you provide that the amount of omega-3s (EPA, DHA) listed on label is actually in the product?
All of our products are verified by independent third-party labs to meet identity, purity, and potency label claims. Our fish oil products are third-party tested to ensure compliance with IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards). The IFOS program is the most trusted third-party testing and certification program exclusively for fish oils. If interested, you can view lot-specific third party testing results on our website or at http://certifications.nutrasource.ca/ Each IFOS report includes detailed potency testing results as well as results for freshness (TOTOX), marine contaminants, and heavy metals. Every lot of our fish oil products has been and continues to be IFOS 5-star certified and we haven't had a single lot since we first started manufacturing fish oil supplements that has not met the IFOS program's stringent requirements.
If interested, more information on our our commitment to independent, third party quality testing can be found at this link - https://nutrigold.com/pages/accountability
How does NutriGold ensure the freshness of its fish oil and protect it from becoming rancid during production, packaging and in transit from its facility to consumers?
Freshness is an important factor to consider when it comes to omega-3 supplements. This is why NutriGold's fish oils are processed in an environment that is strictly controlled to ensure oxygen exposure (and oxidation) is minimized. Our fish oil is encapsulated soon after it is extracted and an antioxidant (mixed tocopherols) is added to protect the oil from oxidation and preserve freshness.
Because every lot of our fish oil products is third-party tested by IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) for purity, potency, and freshness, you can review the results of testing at http://certifications.nutrasource.ca/ prior to making your purchase for complete peace of mind.
Should NutriGold fish oil products be refrigerated after opening to preserve freshness and to protect the product from becoming rancid?
Our softgel-based fish oil products are stable at room temperature and do not require refrigeration. However, they should be stored in their original container away from sunlight and moisture. Depending on your preference, you may refrigerate the product if you wish; some consumers prefer to refrigerate the product, especially during the hot summer months, to help keep the product fresh and others with sensitive GI tracts find that refrigerating the product helps minimize the risk of fish burps after taking the product.
Do NutriGold fish oil products produce a “fishy” aftertaste or repeat effect?
Our fish oil products rarely result in a fishy aftertaste or repeat effect because they are from a pristine source, processed quickly, include a natural antioxidant to protect against oxidation, and are in the more bioavailable rTG form. That being said, individuals with sensitive GI tracts who are generally more prone to a repeat effect may benefit from refrigerating the product and/or taking the product in the middle of the largest meal of the day to help minimize risk of fishy aftertaste.
What is the best time of day to take the NutriGold fish oil products?
Although not required, as a general rule, taking a fat-soluble supplement (like fish oil) with food may help enhance its absorption and assimilation. Some individuals, especially those with sensitive GI tracts, may benefit from taking fish oil supplements with food because it greatly minimizes risk of fishy reflux and/or burps. As a matter of principle and in the interest of your health and safety, we encourage you to consult your healthcare provider prior to supplementation to determine what use, if any, is best for your individual needs.
What is DPA?
Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is found in some seafood sources, including the wild Alaska Pollock we source our fish oil from. DPA is much less studied than EPA and DHA. However, the research that exists demonstrates that DPA may support a healthy inflammation response, cardiovascular health, and the absorption of EPA and DHA. (Source) The DPA in our fish oil product is not added separately; it is naturally occurring in Alaska Pollock and the potency is confirmed through third-party testing.
The supplement facts panel on NutriGold fish oil products list “Other Omega-3s.” What are these other omega-3s?
In addition to EPA, DHA, and DPA, our fish oil products also contain other naturally-occurring omega-3 fatty acids like Alpha-linolenic Acid, Stearidonic Acid, and Eicosatetraenoic Acid. Please note that the individual amounts of these other omega-3 fatty acids can vary slightly from batch to batch due to natural variations in the wild-caught Alaska Pollock.
Are NutriGold fish oil products suitable for children (under 18 years of age)?
NutriGold’s fish oil products are formulated for individuals over 18 years. Because children are considered a vulnerable population, we regret we cannot make any recommendations regarding the use of our products by children under the age of 18. We ask that you talk to your pediatrician or family practitioner about whether or not our omega-3 fish oil product is suitable and safe for your child’s particular healthcare needs prior to supplementation.
Are NutriGold fish oil products safe to take during pregnancy?
To the best of our knowledge, our product should be safe for consumption by pregnant women because it provides beneficial omega-3s that can support a healthy pregnancy. However, because pregnant women are considered a vulnerable population, we ask that you discuss your interest in our product with your healthcare provider prior to supplementation and take the product only under their guidance if you are pregnant, suspect you may be pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
How is the Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil product different from the Double Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil and the Omega-3+CoQ10+D3 Gold?
All three fish oil products are essentially the same in terms of fish oil source, structure of the omega-3 fatty acids, and compliance with IFOS 5-star standards for purity, potency, and freshness. The two differences between the Triple Strength Omega-3 and Double Strength Omega-3 products are—(1) the Triple Strength Omega-3 fish oil provides 2,100 mg of total omega-3s per 2-softgel serving whereas the Double Strength Omega-3 fish oil provides 1,400 mg of total omega-3s per 2-softgel serving; and (2) the Triple Strength Omega-3 fish oil provides EPA and DHA in a 3:1 ratio whereas the Double Strength Omega-3 fish oil provides EPA and DHA in a 2:1 ratio.
The Omega-3+CoQ10+D3 Gold product provides the same amount of omega-3s and the same ratio of EPA and DHA as the Double Strength Omega-3 fish oil product. However, in addition to the omega-3 fatty acids, the Omega-3+CoQ10+D3 product also provides 50 mg of the clinically-proven Kaneka CoQ10 and 2,500 IU of vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol). As with any supplement, we encourage you to consult your healthcare provider prior to supplementation to determine what product, if any, is best for your individual needs.
Which is better—fish oil or krill oil?
Both fish oil and krill oil products provide the same essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Given this, it follows that any research that supports the importance of EPA and DHA would be relevant and applicable to both products. However, because fish oil has been around longer and has, therefore, been the subject of more research, there is more clinical evidence to support fish oil's efficacy in supporting multiple areas of health than there is to support krill oil's benefits.
For those that are seeking a high potency omega-3 product, NutriGold's omega-3 fish oil products do offer much higher amounts of EPA & DHA per serving than what is provided by krill oil. However, the omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) in krill oil are naturally bound to Phospholipids, which bind to cell membranes in the body and help transport the omega-3s into the cells where they are needed. In other words, the omega-3s in krill oil may be more bioavailable to the cells, may be better absorbed, and, for this reason, may provide some of the same benefits at a lower dosage.
Regardless of whether you choose our omega-3 fish oil products or our krill oil products, you can be assured you are getting a high-quality product that can support your health goals when taken as part of a healthy lifestyle. As a matter of principle and in the interest of your health and safety, we encourage you to consult your healthcare provider prior to supplementation to determine which product is best for your individual needs.
Does NutriGold plan to offer an algae-based, vegan omega-3 supplement?
As a brand that values sustainability, we are committed to identifying algal sources of omega-3 that will meet our uncompromising purity, freshness, and stability standards. It is our hope to one day be able to offer a high-quality, vegan, algae-based omega-3 supplement. So, stay tuned!