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Fish Oil Trickery

Friday, January 30, 2009

Our research office phones have again been ringing with questions about the safety of ethyl ester fish oil. Apparently, those who sell a new-to-nature form of fish oil have pulled a booth trick out of their marketer's bag.  
The ethyl ester fish oil/styrofoam cup disintegration illusion.
Putting ethyl ester fish oil in a styrofoam cup and having an audience watch the cup disintegrate  is a trick that has been played around the world by distributors of TG fish oils. However, there is nothing about the trick that would be analogous to the effect of ethyl ester fish oil in the human body.
To my knowledge, extensive physiological analyses of the human body during thousands of clinical studies conducted at major universities over past decades have failed to reveal the presence of styrofoam, or any other extruded polystyrene foam, in the human body.  Therefore, it would seem safe to conclude that the example used to demonstrate the illusion of bodily damage from ingestion of ethyl ester fish oil could be considered far-fetched.  I'm told that lemon peel and rind will do the same thing to a polystyrene foam cup, as will natural gastric acid, which is mostly hydrochloric acid.
Fish Oil Availability
Although some of these marketers claim that ethyl ester fish oil is no longer sold in Europe, that is simply not true. Three of the major fish oil manufacturers who sell EE fish oil in European countries and most of the Western world and Asia are discussed below:
1) Pronova BioPharma produces the only EU/FDA approved fish oil, Omacor/Lovaza, a highly concentrated ethyl ester form. It is distributed in more than 40 countries around the world including the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom, which are the seven major global pharmaceutical markets.
The Omacor/Lovaza manufacturing process includes patented and proprietary steps producing a  product containing a total concentration of 90 per cent omega-3 ethyl esters.
2)  EPAX AS is a world-leading bulk supplier of ultra-pure, highly concentrated, marine-based Omega-3 EPA/DHA fatty acids. EPAX AS is a Norwegian company based in Aalesund.
EPAX products are individually formulated with varying EPA/DHA ratios and concentrations designed to target specific health concerns including cardiovascular, cognitive, mood and mind, eye, joint, pre- and postnatal health, and to support a healthy inflammation response.
EPAX produces both ethyl ester EE and triglyceride TG fish oil and they sell both products in their markets, including Europe.
3)    DSM Nutritional Products, one of the world’s largest suppliers of raw ingredients to the supplement industry only offers an ethyl ester fish oil called  Ropufa, which is concentrated to 75% EPA/DHA.  It is sold in Europe, Asia and the U.S.
Despite the claims of some fish oil promoters, ethyl ester fish oil has been extensively studied for years.  It is safe, available in many countries, and it is the form used in the vast number of studies that convinced the FDA to permit fish oil health claims.  We will continue to carefully monitor fish oil science, and adjust our raw ingredient choice if and when science convinces us to do so.
Ellen Troyer, MT MA
Biosyntrx Chief Research Officer



A great question was raised at the recent Hawaiian Eye Ophthalmology meeting by Dr. Malcolm Ing, Ophthalmology department chair at the University of Hawaii, about the International Fish Oil Standard (IFOS). 
This IFOS standard was designed in accordance with the Council for Responsible Nutrition's voluntary monograph on Omega-3 products and safety standards for human consumption.  The World Health Organization further suggested that dioxin, furan and mercury levels be tested as part of the CRN standard.  This document became the impetus for the current standard for all fish oils imported into the American market.   Please feel free to contact me at and request a PDF copy of the original CRN monograph if you are interested.
Biosyntrx's ZoOmega-3 ethyl ester fish oil meets or exceeds all of the CRN/WHO safety standards that apply to our 30:20 EPA/DHA concentration.


Clinical references available in the Biosyntrx office.