Do You Really Need to Buy Enteric-Coated Fish Oil Capsules?

An enteric coating keeps the contents inside a capsule from being digested in the stomach. Recently some nutritional supplement manufacturers have begun offering enteric-coated fish oil capsules to prevent the most common side effect of fish oil products, fishy burps. But are they really a good buy?

Here are three reasons enteric-coated fish oil is not a good buy.

  1. When you eat an enteric coating, you are eating plastic.

    Enteric coatings are selectively soluble. This means that they don't dissolve in the acidic environment of the stomach, but they will dissolve in the more alkaline environment of the small intestine.

    To make them selectively soluble, all enteric coatings are of chemical origin. The most common coatings are cellulose acetate, cellulose phthalate, and cellulose succinate, styrol maleic acid, polyvinyl acetate, and shellac. These compounds will dissolve in rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, and antifreeze. The isopropyl alcohol you find in rubbing alcohol, the acetone you find in nail polish remover, and the ethylene glycol you find in antifreeze are used in the encapsulation facility to dissolve the chemicals that are used to coat the fish oil.

    Most of the chemical coatings are essentially plastics. When you take an enteric coated fish oil capsule, you are eating plastic. Can you imagine any problems with this approach to nutrition?
  2. Enteric coatings are designed to prevent a side effect that doesn't happen if you use a high-quality product.

    And do you really need to buy enteric-coated fish oil capsules? The simple answer is no, because enteric coatings are designed to prevent a side effect of fish oil products that shouldn't happen in the first place.

    Fish oil products that cause fishy burps, fish breath, and diarrhea are those that contain a relatively high concentration of "marine liquids" in addition to to the omega-3 fatty acids DHA, EPA, and DPA. This "fish juice" can go bad. It can produce peroxides and anisidine compounds that can irritate the lining of the stomach, causing heartburn along with burping.
  3. An enteric coating usually surrounds a product that deliver very little omega-3 essential fatty acids.

    The best fish oil capsules contain more of the DHA and EPA you need and less of the marine liquids that you don't. An off the shelf fish oil product you buy at Walmart, for example, may contain just 120 milligrams of DHA and 180 milligrams of EPA. The rest of the capsule has to be "filler."

    An Xtend Life product, on the other hand, contains 600 milligrams of DHA and 260 milligrams of EPA. The rest of the capsule is natural preservatives such as rosemary oil and vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate). There isn't any room left for anything that isn't good for you!

    Enteric coating doesn't make a bad product better. It just prevents the most obvious side effects. If you take an enteric-coated fish oil, you may not have to endure the embarrassment of being told you have fish breath or having to cover odorous fishy burps or fishy flatulence, but you won't be getting the omega-3 essential fatty acids you need without taking dozens of capsules each day, either.

Avoid enteric coatings. Buy high-quality Omega 3/DHA fish oil and get the nutrition you need in just a few capsules a day.

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