The source of omega-3 fatty acids should come from EPA and DHA. Although another form, ALA is available, usually in plant-based supplements, it is far less superior. The body uses omega-3 fatty acids in the forms EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA can be synthesized from ALA in the body, however, the efficiency of this conversion is about 8% from ALA to EPA and 0-4% to DHA in healthy young men. The ratio of EPA to DHA will differ depending on specific patient needs.
Third party testing means that another company has verified the product after testing it in a lab. Fish oils are one of the most important supplements to have third party tested, for a number of reasons. If not processed under specific conditions, fish oils will quickly oxidize, creating a rancid oil which is actually inflammatory to the body and can promote disease and accelerate aging. Third party testing also ensures purity of the product which is critical for omega-3 fatty acid supplements to confirm that toxins such as heavy metals or PCBs are removed from the product.
Omega-3 fatty acids are available in triglyceride or ethyl ester form. When choosing your fish oil, make sure that you choose the triglyceride form. Ethyl ester forms of the oil make them more susceptible to oxidation, having a negative impact on health. Secondly, the ability for the body to absorb and use the omega-3 fatty acid is decreased in the ethyl ester form. This form is also associated with increased side effects such as fish burps, and gastrointestinal symptoms. The triglyceride form is much more stable, bioavailable and has decreased side effects.
As mentioned above, we want to avoid oxidation of oils. When oils are heated, the fatty acid becomes damaged, as well as oxidized. Therefore, when selecting a fish oil, choose one which has a cold distillation process. This means the oil’s integrity is kept through the process and oxidation remains low. Secondly, the cold distillation prevents the fishy taste and smell associated with a fish oil which has gone through fractional distillation.
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