Pharmavite-backed study makes the case for new method to increase bioavailability of omega-3

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Puhhha
Getty Images / Puhhha

Related tags: omega-3, Epa, Dha, Bioavailability

Omega-3 fats delivered using a proprietary self-micro-emulsifying system may be more bioavailable to the human body than the standard ethyl ester formulation, according to a new study funded by Pharmavite.

The study​, published in Clinical Therapeutics ​last month, reported that participants who ingested 500 mg of EPA and DHA that had been prepared using the self-micro-emulsifying delivery system (SMEDS) exhibited a “markedly enhanced appearance in plasma of EPA and DHA, compared to a standard [ethyl ester] formulation, when ingested in the fasting state.”

In other words, “the absorption of EPA+DHA from the SMEDS formulation was more than eight times that from the standard formulation when administered in the fasting state—on an empty stomach,”​ according to a press release from Pharmavite.

The SMEDS delivery format involves rapid emulsification and microdroplet formation on entering the aqueous environment of the gut.

The researchers used a consumer product made using SMEDS from one of Pharmavite’s brands—Nature Made Omega-3 with Xtra Absorb—for this investigation.

“Optimal absorption of EPA and DHA occurs with the consumption of a high-fat meal, which triggers the release of bile, facilitates the formation of mixed micelles in the gastrointestinal tract, and aids in the digestion of the ethyl ester bonds, thus making the EPA and DHA liberated through digestion available for absorption,”​ the researchers wrote.

“However, because it is not always convenient or recommended to consume a fat-containing meal, new technologies are being developed that enhance Omega-3 fatty acid absorption,” ​which is where proprietary delivery systems like SMEDS come in, they added.

Study details and results

Twenty-three participants, 11 women and 12 men, completed the trial.

It was a randomized crossover study, which means participants were divided into two groups, one consuming the SMEDS omega-3 supplement and another consuming the ethyl ester omega-3 supplement for the first period, before switching to taking the other supplement for the second period.

After fasting, they ingested their assigned capsule with 240 ml of water, after which the researchers collected blood samples to measure their omega-3 plasma concentrations.

They found higher plasma concentrations of omega-3 in participants after they consumed the SMEDS supplement compared to the ethyl ester supplement.

However, since the trial was conducted on participants in a fasting state, it cannot necessarily be extrapolated to conditions in which individuals consume a low-fat or high-fat meal, they added.

SOURCE: Clinical Therapeutics
Published online ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinthera.2018.10.014
“Effects of a Self–micro-emulsifying Delivery System Formulation Versus a Standard ω-3 Acid Ethyl Ester Product on the Bioavailability of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid: A Study in Healthy Men and Women in a Fasted State”
Authors: Kevin C. Maki, et al.

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