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Why Nordic Naturals EFA Products Do Not Use Enteric-coated Soft Gels

June 2011

Many companies promote the use of enteric coating to reduce fishy odor and after taste. Nordic Naturals does not utilize enteric coating for this purpose because of its pure and great tasting oils; there is simply no need for them to mask the taste of their oils. Fish oil products in the market that have a fishy taste to them have undergone a process called oxidation. This is measured through peroxide and TOTOX (Total Oxidation) levels. Products with high levels of oxidation have a higher level of rancidity and will have a fishy taste to them. This reduces their overall health benefit because to maintain health, the human body needs to reduce total oxidation, which is one of the reasons it is essential to eat fruits and vegetables. Foods like fruits and vegetables have high naturally occurring levels of antioxidants, that combat the oxidative process. Nordic Naturals fish oils are routinely tested and have demonstrated to have the lowest levels of oxidation of any fish oil products in the market. In some cases a company may be using enteric coating to mask the taste of an inferior quality oil.

Some companies claim that enteric coating results in better absorption and proper release in the intestines.

Understanding the digestion of fats is complicated, but it is important to understand that it is a multistep process that is supposed to begin in the stomach. A small amount of fat is initially digested in the stomach by lingual lipase that is secreted by the lingual glands in the mouth and swallowed with the saliva and food, or fish oil capsule. The amount of digestion that occurs during this process is approximately 10%. The vast majority of fat digestion occurs in the small intestine, however the initial process does and should begin naturally when fat is mixed with saliva. This is the normal mechanism of digestion that the body has naturally evolved in to.

Within the small intestine, the first step that occurs is that fat globules are broken down into a small size so that water-soluble digestive enzymes can act on the globule surfaces. This process is called emulsification of fat, and it is achieved in part by simple agitation that began initially higher up in the digestive system, such as in the stomach. Primary emulsification however, works under the influence of bile, which is made in the liver, but is concentrated in and excreted from the gall bladder. Bile contains a large quantity of bile salts, as well as the phospholipid lecithin, both of which are important for emulsification. This process works to make the fat globules readily fragmented by agitation in the small intestine. Pancreatic lipase, from the pancreas, is also essential for fat digestion. Bile salts proceed to further reduce monoglycerides and free fatty acids, and ultimately make a micelle, which acts as a transport medium to bring the metabolized fat to the intestinal epithelial cells for absorption into the body.

Published studies done on enteric-coated fish oil have only ever been done on a small group of individuals with Crohn�s disease. Three small studies were conducted with 166 total people, 83 of whom received enteric-coated fish oil and 83 received a placebo. In these studies a placebo (with caprylic acid and capric acid) was used as a point of comparison for the enteric coated fish oil, not a standard soft gel fish oil capsule.

Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It usually affects the intestines, but may occur anywhere from the mouth to the end of the rectum (anus). As a result, the entire digestive system is affected. Approximately 700,000 people in the United States suffer from Crohn�s disease. Studies that have been conducted on Crohn�s disease by no means reflect how a product will be absorbed and utilized by the general population. Crohn�s disease is a very serious immune-mediated inflammatory bowel condition and studies done on this small population are very important for this group of individuals, but should by no means reflect upon the remainder of the population.


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