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Does Your Omega 3 Burn a Hole in Styrofoam?

**CONSUMER ALERT**
Nearly 100,000 deaths per year are attributed to omega 3 insufficiency! 

fish oil, a styrofoam cup, and alcohol -- weird little trickOmega 3 fats come from fish and fish oil. 

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DEATHS can be prevented from simply eating more fish and taking a quality fish oil product.

But here’s the question — with 100′s of products on the market — what does "quality" mean?

And that’s where a Styrofoam cup comes in.  That’s not a typo — we’re going to reveal today and insider secret — how a Styrofoam cup can determine the quality of your omega 3 supplement!   

You see, with 100′s of brands around the world available, you want to take the best one, right?  Outside of the loads of benefits of fish oil, we know you’re like us and want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your fish oil buck, so to speak.

So here’s the deal with omega 3′s — comparing two different brands of omega 3′s is like comparing apples and oranges.  You can’t do it simply by looking at the bottle. 

There are different ‘forms’ of fish oil and 2 of them just went head to head in a recent study to confirm which is the best — best meaning the most usable form for your body.  And if you’re spending the money, of course you’re like us and want a form you’ll get the most from. 

The forms we’re talking about are ethyl esters vs. re esterified triglycerides. Remember those 2 terms as you read on –ethyl ester and re esterified triglyceride.  Got it? 

A molecule of fat has something called a glycerol backbone with 3 fatty acids off the structure (hence the term "tri" glyceride).  Picture the letter "E" — the backbone is the glycerol and the 3 shorter pieces coming off are the fatty acids.

Now we’re not going to get "all biochemistry" on you.  Don’t get nervous.  Stick with us.  Omega 3, like all fat, is in the natural triglyceride form when found in fish.  And of the different omega-3′s, the two we’re focusing on today are the ever important, research supported, EPA and DHA — those are key factors with a quality omega-3 product.

Well, lo and behold, scientists discovered that if you remove the glycerol backbone and replace it with a ethanol (e.g., alcohol) you can create a product with higher concentrations of EPA and DHA.  Again, these are the 2 most important components of an omega-3 product. Seems like a win win, right?  High concentrations of EPA and DHA should mean you don’t have to take as much to get the benefits. 

BUT…more and more research is continuing to mount that this ethyl ester, created somewhere in a lab, may not be all it’s cracked up to be.  Just because there are higher concentrations of EPA and DHA may not be so great after all.

Here’s the Deal

New research reveals a significant absorption advantage to re esterified triglyceride form fish oil concentrates.  In a recent blinded, placebo-controlled study involving 72 people between the ages of 21 and 56 the re esterified triglyceride fish oil was 70% better absorbed in subjects vs the ethyl ester form. 

Higher rates of absorption means your fish oil is more effective

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The Problem
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The vast majority of all fish oil concentrates on the market are in 
the ethyl ester form.  Eeeeekkk.

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The Solution

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Find out if your fish oil is the *evil* ethyl ester with a simple Styrofoam cup!fish oil, a styrofoam cup, and alcohol--weird little trick

Here’s the secret to find out because the label won’t always tell you!

Place a bit of your fish oil in a Styrofoam cup. Place the cup on a plate to avoid any mess. Take a look at the cup after a few minutes. If the fish oil has leaked significantly through the cup it contains ethyl ester–ethyl ester fish oil eats through the cup!  You’ll see it after just a few minutes, but give it 10 or so to truly determine. Natural triglyceride fish oils placed in a Styrofoam cup will not do the same.
 
Interesting, right? 

Other key factors with buying a high quality fish oil (the Styrofoam cup test is just the first step in making sure you have a decent omega 3 product).  Here are 3 others:

  1. High concentration of EPA and DHA which you can see on the label (aim for at least 500 mg per serving)
  2. Molecularly distilled to remove any and all impurities
  3. Fresh, clean tasting to ensure the fish oil isn’t rancid.
 Please click the ‘like’ button below and leave a comment to share this IMPORTANT message with your friends!
 

35 Responses to Does Your Omega 3 Burn a Hole in Styrofoam?

  1. Angie Schneider March 28, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    Do you have a brand recommendation?

  2. Debbie Woods March 28, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    Designs for Health also has True Triglyceride fish oils.

  3. Devdeep March 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Hello Chris and Kara Mohr,
    Thanks for the nice post.
    I also see that you like the Nordic Naturals products. I have used their Ultimate Omega-D3. I wanted to know whether you have an opinion about WholeMega by New Chapter.
    Thanks in advance!
    To Good Health-
    Devdeep.

  4. Devdeep March 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Hello Chris and Kara Mohr,
    Thanks for the nice post.
    I have two questions:
    1) You said: “Place a bit of your fish oil in a Styrofoam cup.” – Now if I have capsules, should I break ‘em up first? Or use water?
    2) I also see that you like the Nordic Naturals products. I have used their Ultimate Omega-D3. I wanted to know whether you have an opinion about WholeMega by New Chapter.
    Thanks in advance!
    To Good Health-
    Devdeep.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr March 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      Break open the capsule and put some of the oil in the cup. WholeMega recently showed up to have elevated levels of arsenic.

      • Devdeep March 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

        Dear Dr. Chris and Kara Mohr,

        I tried to find some reference for your comment on WholeMega:

        “WholeMega recently showed up to have elevated levels of arsenic.”

        I was unable to find any (I found arsenic results on 10 other Omega-3 capsules)… could you please direct me to the publication/study that shows/supports your above-mentioned comment.

        Also… Thanks for the words on “Kenai Wild Salmon”. I have already bought some… :)

        • Chris and Kara Mohr March 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

          Hi — I misspoke about Wholeomega. Did think I read that, but I looked back and it wasn’t listed at all — for high or low arsenic levels.

          Appreciate the support for our blog!

  5. Arlene March 29, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Good idea. One other thing is to put your gel capsule in the freezer, if it freezes it has water in it and is less effective than those that do not freeze.

  6. Natalie March 29, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    Just had a question about two Nordic Naturals products – Arctic-D Cod Liver Oil and Ultimate Omega -D3. The total omega-3s are approximately the same but the ratio of EPA & DHA is reversed ie. 410/625 mg for the Arctic-D versus 650/450 mg for the Ultimate Omega. Also, the omega-9 value is 600 mg versus 56 mg. Are these differences significant? I started out using the oil but have found that the capsules are more convenient for traveling but am willing to take any advice you might have. Thanks in advance.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr March 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      Ultimate is a higher concentrate of EPA/DHA, so depending on the dose you’re aiming for, this is a convenient way to get a high dose with few capsules. Use what’s most convenient for you and whichever one you’ll take regularly. :-)

  7. Devdeep March 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Thanks, Dr. and Dr. Mohr.

    Coming back to Natalie’s question and your answer to her… have you done any research on Nordic Naturals’ “Kenai Wild™ Alaskan Salmon Oil Soft Gels”?

    This one is a relatively new product… it would be great if you could provide your expert opinion on it.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr March 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      The Kenai Wild Salmon is Nordic’s newest. It’s just as high quality as their others and still from a sustainable fish source, the Kenai Wild Alaskan Salmon.

  8. jj March 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Dr. Mohr:

    You mentioned “New research reveals a significant absorption advantage to re esterified triglyceride form fish oil concentrates. In a recent blinded, placebo-controlled study involving 72 people between the ages of 21 and 56 the re esterified triglyceride fish oil was 70% better absorbed in subjects vs the ethyl ester form.”
    Do you mind providing the source of this study. This is the first I have heard of this and I’m curious to read more! I found out my fish oil supplement is the ethyl ester form – so how much of that type IS absorbed?
    Thanks!

    • Chris and Kara Mohr March 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

      Thanks for the email — here’s the reference and there was an even more recent one showing the same exact thing. Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 80, J. Dyerberg, P. Madsen, J.M. Møller, I. Aardestrup, E.B. Schmidt, Bioavailability of marine n-3 fatty acid formulations, 137-141,

  9. Alvin August 21, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Dr Mohr,

    I always thought that (and everybody else too) when we subject omega-3 capsules to the styrofoam test, its only when the styrofoam is leaked through therefore is good. Why is that so? and could you explain why in your article , the reverse is true?

  10. Alvin August 21, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Dr Mohr,

    I always thought that (and everybody else too) when we subject omega-3 capsules to the styrofoam test, its only when the styrofoam is leaked through therefore is good. Why is that so? and could you explain why in your article , the reverse is true?

    Alvin

  11. Hollee October 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I was just wondering about the dosage recommendation you give of 500 mg (and in your other articles you recommend even more). This is much higher than the recommendations I’ve seen from other sources. Could you explain? Also, how much would you recommend for a pregnant female (age 27; current weight 110)? Thanks.

  12. Hollee October 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    I was just wondering about the dosage recommendation you give of 500 mg (and in your other articles you recommend even more). This is much higher than the recommendations I’ve seen from other sources. Could you explain? Also, how much would you recommend for a pregnant female (age 27; current weight 110)? Thanks.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      500 mg is the minimum dose recommended by most governing bodies. I think that’s conservative and personally take 2 g EPA/DHA per day. I think upwards of 2 g EPA/DHA is smart if you’re pregnant

  13. Mike Tobert November 2, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    I am sorry, but you are full of crap. Do you know that the only FDA approved fish oil med is Ethyl Esters (Lovaza)? They sell it at the pharmacy for more than $200 per bottle (120 soft gels). Please don’t post a misleading article with your small placebo control study to benifit yourself. You can do so much harm to other people. Thank you.

    Dr. Tobert

    • Melissa May 7, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      Dr. Sisskind (who promotes this test and dosage) and both my doctor and nutritionist disagree with YOU, Dr. Tobert. What exactly is your problem. It is so unprofessional and very very suspicious to attack and then promote an expensive medicine. I’m not even affiliated with this website. But I saw your comment and had to say something.

  14. Mike Tobert November 2, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I am sorry, but you are full of crap. Do you know that the only FDA approved fish oil med is Ethyl Esters (Lovaza)? They sell it at the pharmacy for more than $200 per bottle (120 soft gels). Please don’t post a misleading article with your small placebo control study to benifit yourself. You can do so much harm to other people. Thank you.

    Dr. Tobert

    • Chris and Kara Mohr November 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      I appreciate your email and would love to talk more about this in a professional manner. As you know, FDA approved doesn’t necessarily mean better. There are a lot of FDA approved drugs that have been removed from the market for a variety of medical concerns. And this post in know way helps me. It helps our readers decipher and sort through the mumbo jumbo that is out there. Thanks for reading our blog.

  15. Jack April 25, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I have seen this experiment before and was wondering why they use styrofoam cup to test omega-3. I really need some explanation on this. Would it affect the blood vessel if it could dissolve the styrofoam cup? Please respond to this, and I would very appreciate that.

    Thank you,

    Jack

  16. flexter June 19, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    thanks Chris and Kara Mohr, your information is very helpful. espcially about the styrofoam cup. they almost had me sold on the youtube videos.
    and you’re spot on about the FDA. i’ll. leave it at that.

    Mike Tobert, i suggest highly that you do some research on the fda and how big pharma owns them.
    here is a start:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxigqzaYiwI

    you got a lot to learn…

  17. Tony August 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    What are your thoughts on USANA’s BioMega

    • Chris and Kara Mohr September 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      I’m not familiar with that specific product, but USANA does have quality products as a whole.

  18. Jackie April 28, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Thanks I was surprised when by accident I had fish oil that melted a plastic cup. I called the company wanting to know what ingredient would be the source of this issue. After four calls I realized I was not getting any where. The company promised to send me the info but it’s now almost 4wks and no response. I will contact the department of Agriculture, hopefully the will give me an answer.

  19. Jackie April 28, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Thanks I was surprised when by accident I had fish oil that melted a plastic cup. I called the company wanting to know what ingredient would be the source of this issue. After four calls I realized I was not getting any where. The company promised to send me the info but it’s now almost 4wks and no response. I will contact the department of Agriculture, hopefully the will give me an answer.

  20. murat July 1, 2013 at 5:26 am #

    so you are the only person that say the fish oil capsule should not broken the styrofoam cup and explaining with the biochemical reasons. It made change my mind focusing the new research about this topic.

  21. Paul January 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    A total crock, The observation that the EE form is able to dissolve Styrofoam simply reflects the fact that the polarity of EE is extremely similar to Styrofoam. It means nothing more than that, and it certainly does not suggest a concern for safety or toxicity. The EE form of omega-3 fish oil has been judged to be very safe by every regulatory agency that has reviewed the scientific data. There is no research to prove any compelling differences between the two forms EE and TG. I’m sure this post will never be published…

    • Chris and Kara Mohr January 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Hi Paul -

      We appreciate your response … your post has been posted. You are 100% correct that EE dissolving styrofoam doesn’t have anything to do with its quality. However, what’s more important to me is that there have been a handful of studies showing natural triglyceride form is more bioavailable than EE. I appreciate your insight and response!

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