Providing better absorption, nutrient value and compliance, ‘clean’ omega-3 supplements provide better benefits for patients
Chances are good that your patients are already familiar with omega-3 fatty acids. But it may surprise your patients to learn that the very nutrients they hope will help them could, in fact, hurt them.
Although omega-3 supplements are readily available almost everywhere, there is very little differentiation for patients as to what they should look for. And unfortunately, the quality of omega-3s, most available in oil forms that may have been harshly processed and have a great likelihood of going rancid, is often open to question.
There’s no doubt that sources of fish oil matter. I think that a single source, like salmon, is best. But sourcing isn’t the only thing that’s important, either. Whether the supplement has been tested to verify its purity is a must.
Omega-3 supplements: purity and form
There are several levels of testing required to assure quality of a marine oil and extracts from marine sources. There must be an evaluation of heavy metal content. There must also be an evaluation of contaminant exposure, like PCBs and residual pesticide components. All ocean fish have some level of contamination; we have not been good stewards of our environment. Unfortunately, the location of the fish harvest is not a guarantee of purity — the proof is in the testing, no matter where or how a fish is obtained.
Along with purity, the form of an omega-3 supplement can add value for your patients, too. For instance, DHA is typically connected to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS), and EPA is associated with phosphatidylinositol (PI) in the brain. 1 So a phospholipid-bound omega-3 supplement tested for purity, more stable than oils, and from a single source, salmon, makes the most sense.
Because this form is more stable, it is a real bonus for patients who have struggled with fish oil because they don’t like fish burps, or patients who become hit-and-miss with their supplementation and the oil goes rancid. The absorption of omega-3s is much better with phospholipids than triglyceride-bound oils as well, as it is simply a more natural fit for the body. Dosage levels of this form of omega-3 supplement, because of superior absorption, are low at only two per day. That’s a far cry from traditional oils, and it virtually guarantees better compliance.
Clean omega-3s from salmon
So, what goes into making a cleaner form of omega-3 supplements from salmon? A unique process pioneered by French researchers at the University of Nancy. This process uses water and enzymes immediately following the catch — not intensive heat or harsh solvents that could compromise the safety and benefits of the omega-3s and other compounds. This process also means that the supplement supplies a wealth of phospholipids and peptides, and that could make a critical difference for your patients. 2
Consider this in-vitro study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry. Researchers pre-treated neuronal cells with DHA from this phospholipid-bound omega-3 source for 48 hours before exposing these cells to soluble oligomers of amyloid-beta peptide, a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s.
The DHA pretreatment greatly increased neuronal survival and reduced damage. The researchers concluded that “Such neuroprotective effects could be of major interest in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.” 3
Comparing omega-3 oils
Fish oil and to a lesser extent, krill oil, have been available for some time and probably are familiar to your patients, so it may be a challenge for them to consider a different form. You can remind them that even though fish oil provides DHA and EPA, those essential fatty acids can be prone to rancidity, be difficult for people to efficiently absorb in that form, and can cause oxidative stress and inflammatory damage. And while krill oil can provide omega-3s and some phospholipids, it doesn’t provide the heart and neuron-protecting peptides found in the phospholipid-bound form from salmon.
The benefits of having phospholipids as an inherent part of the supplement cannot be discounted — it makes what would otherwise be a standard omega-3 into a multi-nutrient addition to a patient’s regimen. The list of these valued components provided by a salmon-sourced form of omega-3s reads like a “who’s who” of nutrients:
- Phosphatidylcholine (PC) — Helps produce neurotransmitters, supports nerve cells and protects the mitochondria from the risk of free radical damage.
- Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) — Supports the structure of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells for healthy brain function.
- Phosphatidylinositol (Pl) — Plays a major role in nerve, brain and muscle signals.
- Sphingomyelin (Sph) — Found in the myelin sheaths of neurons; their concentration in the brain is absolutely critical for healthy cognitive processes.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) — Often recommended as a stand-alone nutrient for broad-spectrum brain health, including mood and working memory.
Without a doubt, omega-3 fatty acids have shown remarkable benefits. Essential fatty acids hold cells together and protect them against invaders. EPA and DHA from fish oil improve heart health and blood profiles, relieve pain through anti-inflammatory action, enhance immunity, elevate mood, alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and menstrual pain, promote brain and vision development in infants and children, and help treat depression. 4-9
Omega-3s and bioavailability
Getting omega-3s in the diet is well-established as truly essential. But they are only valuable if they are not oxidized and if they are bioavailable. If you have patients who have struggled with keeping an omega-3 regimen, it may be time to rethink the delivery of these nutrients with a clean, pure, effective source for consistent, ongoing benefits.
This phospholipid-bound form of omega-3s from salmon is easy for patients to comply with — just two tablets daily can help reset your patients’ experiences and expectations as they notice concrete results on their path to optimal health.
Terry Lemerond is a natural health expert with more than 40 years’ experience. He has owned health food stores, founded dietary supplement companies, and formulated more than 400 products. A published author, he appears on radio and television, and is a frequent guest speaker. He can be contacted through europharmausa.com.
- Dyall SC. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015 Apr 21;7:52.
- Analysis at the Nancy-Universite, INPL-ENSAIA; Laboratoire de Science et Genie Alimentaires, Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France.
- Florent S, Malaplate-Armand C, Youssef I, et al. Docosahexaenoic acid prevents neuronal apoptosis induced by soluble amyloid-beta oligomers. J Neurochem. 2006 Jan;96(2):385-95.
- Fish Oils. In: Hendler SS, ed. PDR for Nutritional Supplements. 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Physician’s Desk Reference; 2008:208-214.
- Kendall-Tackett K. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and women’s mental health in the perinatal period and beyond. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010;55(6):561-7.
- Rocha Araujo DM, Vilarim MM, Nardi AE. What is the effectiveness of the use of polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 in the treatment of depression? Expert Rev Neurother. 2010 Jul;10(7):1117-29.
- Chang JP, Chen YT, Su KP. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (n-3 PUFAs) in Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) and Depression: The Missing Link? Cardiovasc Psychiatry Neurol. 2009;2009:725310. Epub 2009 Sep 27.
- Parmentier M, Al Sayed Mahmoud C, Linder M, Fanni J, et al. Polar lipids: n-3 PUFA carriers for membranes and brain: nutritional interest and emerging processes. Oleagineux, Corps Gras, Lipides; Volume 14 (Issue 3): 2007; p.224-9.
- Bourre JM. Roles of unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids) in the brain at various ages and during aging. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004; 8(3):163-74.