The Pros and Cons of Enteric Coated Fish Oil
Enteric coatings on soft gels
What are enteric coated fish oil and are they the right choice for you?
If you’re looking for maximum absorption and benefits from your fish oil, you may want to take a closer look at these specialized form of omega 3 supplements.
Fish oils are an excellent source of the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Daily supplementation has been shown to benefit your heart, skin, brain and more.
While you can get these supplements in a variety of forms and dosages, the two most important factors to achieving any benefits is how well they’re absorbed and avoiding side effects.
Why You Should Use an Enteric Coated Supplement
The 2 main reasons for using an enteric coated fish oil are to increase absorption and reduce fish oil side effects. If you don’t believe these 2 issues are important or affect you, then you could use a regular soft gel or liquid fish oil
1. Enteric Coatings may Increase Absorption of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
The vast majority of digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs in the small intestine. Pharmaceutical companies have known for years that special coatings on pills will delay digestion in the stomach so the drug can be effectively absorbed in the small intestine.
Depending on the type of enteric coating used, you can control how the nutrients will be absorbed at different points along the digestive system.
Not all enteric coatings are the same and some can dissolve at different rates which may affect how well you absorb and digest the active ingredients.
If you have a health condition that may affect your digestion, you may want to use an enteric coated product to improve absorption. Otherwise, you could use a non-enteric-coated supplement without any negative consequences.
2. Enteric Coatings May Reduce Fish Oil Side Effects:
If you experience side effects, such as fish burps or gas from fish oils, you may want to try using an enteric coated supplement. Fish oil side effects can be caused by ingesting rancid products or an impaired digestive process in the stomach.
The fatty acids need to be broken down by enzymes in order to be efficiently digested. If you have a deficiency in digestive enzymes the nutrients may not fully dissolve in your stomach, which could increase your risk for experiencing fish breath, gas and uncomfortable bloating.
What are Enteric Coatings Made Of?
These coatings can be made from synthetic or natural compounds such as waxes, shellacs, plastics, plant fiber or fatty acids. You’ll find that most capsules or pills with these special coatings will have a hazy or opaque solid color on the surface.
a) Synthetic Compounds are comprised of pH sensitive polymers. During the manufacturing process the capsules are spray painted with a thin layer. This coating allows the pill to remain intact in the acidic environment of your stomach.
The coating then dissolves in the alkaline environment of your small intestine (above pH 5.5) where maximum absorption of nutrients occurs. Examples of synthetic enteric coatings are Methacrylic Acid Copolymer (MAC) and Polyvinyl acetate phthalate (PVAP).
b) Natural Coatings can be made from plant-sourced ingredients such as tree fibers and algae. If you see the words ‘cellulose’ or ‘ alginate’ in the ingredient label, this means your fish oil is using a plant-based ingredient. Natural-based coatings may cost more due to higher manufacturing and processing costs.
However, not all enteric coatings are the same and some may not provide consistent results. Some of these coatings may not be sprayed on the capsules evenly so the enteric coating may be too thin or it could crack or chip off.
Enteric coated and Non-coated soft gels
Regular soft gels are usually clear and yellow, whereas an enteric soft gel will have a hazy or opaque solid color on the surface.
For example, you can see the enteric coated soft gels pictured here are darker in color compared to the typical translucent yellow soft gels.
These soft gels are made by Renew Life and are made from a vegetarian-friendly fish gelatin and beeswax. The manufacturer claims this special coating increase absorption up three times more than regular soft gels.