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Omega-3 salts: ONC explores solid, powdered fish oil

By Stephen Daniells , 14-Apr-2009

Powdered omega-3 salts may soon be offering supplement makers an alternative to the traditional liquid fish oil, according to new research from Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC).

Findings published in the Journal of Functional Foods indicate that calcium- and magnesium-fatty acid salts of omega-3 fish oil are equally bioavailable as traditional liquid fish oil.

Solid forms of omega-3 could offer several advantages over the liquid oil capsules, said the researchers, including increased stability, better tolerability, a lower cost, and the inclusion of other dry ingredients such as vitamins and minerals. It would also allow for an alternative for consumers who wish to avoid animal gelatin.

“The results of this study suggest the exciting potential for omega- 3 salts as an alternative to the traditional liquid format of fish oil ethyl ester concentrates,” wrote the authors, led by Jaroslav Kralovec from ONC.

“In addition, the salts could be formulated with dry ingredients to produce a supplement that could deliver significant levels of minerals and/or vitamins in addition to EPA and DHA.”

Ian Lucas, EVP of innovation and strategy for ONC, told NutraIngredients.com the omega-3 salts programme was still in its early stages and that the company has a number of patents pending in this area.

“There are no similar or competitive products on the market since this novel innovation,” added Lucas.

Production methods

In collaboration with researchers from Deakin University in Australia, the ONC researchers produced calcium- and magnesium-fatty acids salts using concentrated fish oil ethyl ester with an omega-3 fatty acid content in excess of 60 per cent.

According to the researchers, this is an advance on the only other powderised form of omega-3 oil called Dry n-3 developed by BASF, which only contains 15 per cent omega-3.

ONC’s calcium salt was prepared using calcium oxide, while the magnesium salt was prepared using magnesium chloride. The original ethyl ester contained 388 and 189 milligrams per gram of oil of EPA and DHA, respectively, while the calcium salt contained 310 and 146 mg/g, respectively, and the magnesium salt contained 344 and 172 mg/g.

Bioavailability tests were performed using mice, with the animals fed 8 mg per day of the ethyl ester concentrate (control), or the calcium- or magnesium-omega-3 salts for three weeks.

According to the results, the ethyl ester control and the omega-3 salt products resulted in comparable levels of omega-3 fatty acid in serum and red blood cell membranes. Furthermore, the salts did not increase the excretion of omega-3 in the faeces. “In fact, there was a tendency for less omega-3 fatty acids to be excreted,” wrote Kralovec and his co-workers.

ONC commitment

Lucas added that the researchers highlights ONC’s commitment to innovate and in the omega-3 EPA and DHA ingredient category.

“This is an example of the innovative pipeline we are developing for our customers,” he added.

Source: Journal of Functional Foods April 2009, Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 217-221 “Production and bioavailability of calcium and magnesium salts of omega-3 fatty acids” Authors: J.A. Kralovec, H.S. Ewart, J.H.D. Wright, L.V. Watson, D. Dennis, C.J. Barrow

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