The cookies boast 2 grams of EPA and DHA per serving (split about evenly between the two), a dose that equals the level of a blood tryglycieride-lowering drug for which the Norwegian pharmaceutical company Pronova just received approval in Japan.
The cookies are the brainchild of the husband and wife team of Bo Martinsen MD and Anne-Marie Chalmers MD. Part of the motivation for founding their company, Omega3 Innovations, based in Venice, Fla., came from experiences they had in their own medical practice. There was no doubt in their minds about the efficacy of fish oil, Dr. Chalmers told NutraIngredients-USA, but getting patients on board was a hurdle.
“You have people who walk away when they hear the word fish oil or cod liver oil and you have to twist their arm to even try it,” she said.
The omega-3s in the company’s cookies are derived from cod liver oil from a Norwegian supplier. The oil is very fresh, Dr. Chalmers said, and is processed in such a way to have a very neutral taste.
Long development process
Nevertheless, it is fish oil, after all, and is subject to all of the handling challenges of any such ingredient, especially in a baking application. The company went through a long phase to develop their proprietary process to keep the oil stable in mixing and baking, and to yield a shelf-stable product (recommended to be stored in the freezer) that doesn’t taste fishy.
“It’s a patented process that we have developed over five years. We have thrown away a lot of cookies,” she said.
A big part of the compliance challenge is the dosage, Dr. Chalmers said. She recommended a high dose to her patients, forging far beyond the 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA called for by health authorities and industry experts as a minimum baseline intake.
“You need to get over at least 1.7 grams of epa and dha to get that anti-inflammatory effect,” she said. That is equivalent to about 7 capsules of regular strength fish oil, the company says, and that’s a lot to swallow even for consumers with no qualms about the ingredient or no difficulty in choking down big horse pills.
Full spectrum oil
A key part of the product’s formulation, according to Dr. Chalmers, was using the cod liver oil as the source for the omega-3s. This yields an oil that has all of the fractions present in the fish, which improves the health benefit profile, she said.
“It’s full spectrum. Unlike the other fish oils, this fish oil has a fuller range of all the natural omega-3s. You are not just selecting a level of EPA or DHA. And also the micronutrients that are very important to getting that added punch. It is much closer to Mother Nature, in terms of the natural composition you would find in the liver of the cod or that you would see in fatty fish,” she said.
Though she agrees with the science behind the high doses of omega-3s, Dr. Chalmers is not as accepting of the industry’s compound-specific method of getting there.
“In think there has been kind of an over focus on these two fatty acids,” she said.
“We’ve seen kind of the same thing in vegetables, when they started looking vitamin E. The pulled out the alpha tocopherol that was the one they were putting into supplements. And they found that it wasn’t working very well because it didn’t have the rest of that vitamin E.
“I think that might be some of the same problem here. We see that eating fatty fish is more beneficial than taking these supplements. I think staying as close to Mother Nature as possible is always the way to go,” she said.
The cookies, which come in four flavors, are also formulated with oat fiber to boost the heart health benefits, Dr. Chalmers said. The company also offers an omega-3s chocolate and a straight cod liver oil product.