A Layman’s Guide to Fish Oil Supplements [Interview with Coromega]

May 30, 2013

11:00 am

This post is part of Tech Cocktail’s “Healthy Entrepreneur” series, bringing you insights on food, exercise, and sleep throughout May. The series is presented by Coromega (more info and a giveaway below).

With Coromega sponsoring our Healthy Entrepreneur series for May, we thought we’d take the opportunity to learn more about omega-3s and save you some research.

But first, a bit about Coromega. They offer their omega-3 not in a pill but in a “Squeeze,” a portable packet that comes in flavors like orange, chocolate, and lemon-lime. This format – an “emulsion” consisting of both oil and water – absorbs 300 percent better than regular pills. On top of their omega-3s, Coromega also offers a Squeeze of CoQ10 and a test to check your omega-3 levels.

Omega-3s are known for improving heart health, but they also play a role in brain health, emotions and mood, joint health, and vision.

We talked to Dr. Doug Bibus, Coromega’s omega-3 expert, to learn more about how America’s omega-3 consumption stacks up to other countries’, how to get omega-3s from food, and the history of fish oil supplements.

Tech Cocktail: Why are Americans deficient in omega-3s?

Dr. Doug Bibus: Recent studies (Sands et al.) suggest that ~90 percent of Americans are deficient in omega-3 based on their blood values of omega-3. How could this be? The American diet is largely devoid of long-chain omega-3, which is the principle reason for this data. Americans also tend to consume a relatively large proportion of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3. Plant-based omega-6 and omega-3 compete with each other for elongation and desaturation into their long-chain counterparts. High omega-6 diets suppress the formation of EPA and DHA.

Tech Cocktail: How do we compare to other cultures?  

Bibus: Cultural data from Holman and others report that Americans are quite low in omega-3 when compared to fish-consuming populations like the Japanese and Norweigans. People living in the United Kingdom have relatively similar dietary habits as Americans, resulting in a poor overall omega-3 status. We also have studies of non-fish-eating populations with high omega-3 status. In two separate studies, we found that woman and children living in Logos, Nigeria, had more than two times the amount of omega-3 in their blood. While they infrequently consumed fish, they were consuming many food staples including vegetables with a balanced overall ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that facilitates the production of EPA and DHA. Americans consume a diet with an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio on average from 10-20 to 1.

Tech Cocktail: What are some good food sources of omega-3s? 

Bibus: Wild caught salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, anchovies, and trout are perhaps the most concentrated dietary sources of long-chain omega-3. Most seafood, including food stuffs like shrimp, contain lower yet meaningful amounts of omega-3. Sources of plant-based omega-3 include flax, chia, and hemp. Walnuts are often touted as an omega-3 source, but they actually contain more omega-6 than omega-3, which stifles the conversion of the plant-based form to the long-chain form.

Tech Cocktail: Does anything else affect omega-3 levels besides diet? 

Bibus: Disease states or being sick have been shown to reduce your omega-3 status. Oxidative habits like excessive drinking and smoking have also reported to reduce omega-3 status.

Tech Cocktail: How do fish oil supplements differ? Are some better than others?  

Bibus: There are a number of fish oil supplements on the market today. They differ in concentration of omega-3 and in delivery. While the quality of fish oils have improved, buyers should still be cautious regarding a deal that is too good to be true. Look for oils or products from reputable companies that have been molecularly distilled.

Emulsified fish oil products like Coromega offer a tasty yet highly bioavailable way of getting your long-chain omega-3 from fish oil. Lipids and fatty acids are found naturally in nature as emulsions or mixtures of fat and water (sometimes protein). Consuming emulsified fish oils would mimic a more natural food/nutrient interaction.

Tech Cocktail: Tell us a bit about the history of fish oil supplementation. When did fish oil pills become popular? 

Bibus: Historically, fish oil supplementation has been around for over a century. Cod liver oil is reported as far back as the 1600s. Cod liver oil has historically been provided to growing children as a source of vitamins A and D to support bone development and growth.

Fish oil supplementation began to grow following the reports of Dyerberg and Bang, who reported that Greenland Inuits living on high-fat diets had very low incidences of heart-related deaths. It was discerned that the omega-3 content of the largely marine-based diet (fish, seal, and walrus meat) was responsible for changes in heart disease incidence. Greenlanders were reported to have 14-20 percent of their blood fatty acids as omega-3, roughly three to four times higher than typical Americans.

Fish oil supplementation really began to take shape in the 1990s, when additional science documented its health benefits and ability to lower circulating blood triglycerides, a known risk factor for heart disease. Lands discovered that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, could inhibit the COX-2 enzyme by competitive inhibition, at a rate similar to that of ibuprofen. The use of fish oil then also became of interest for treating inflammatory disorders like arthritis and asthma.

Today, supplemental fish oil and a healthy omega-3 status have been shown in hundreds of studies to promote health and prevent various disease. The use of supplemental fish oil is also widely used in patient care to lower triglycerides, treat dry eye, and tackle inflammation. To date there are now over 24,000 unique omega-3 publications in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Tech Cocktail: Talk a bit about how Coromega works – what does the emulsification process do? 

Bibus: The emulsion process takes oil and finely disperses highly digestible oil droplets in and amongst water with the addition of phospholipids. Emulsions are mixes of water and oil that are facilitated commonly by phospholipids, which have both water- and oil-like properties. Milk is perhaps one of Nature’s best examples of a natural emulsion, where 2-4 percent oil is mixed with water, phospholipid, and protein.

Coromega is an oil-in-water emulsion that is flavored with all natural extracts. Consuming oil in a finely dispersed matrix is much easier to digest than consuming bulk oils with little surface area. Digestion of oils requires contact with enzymes and acid that help break apart the lipid molecules so that we can absorb the fatty acids in our intestines. The body’s normal digestion process is to form an emulsion and then absorb fatty acids. With Coromega, the emulsion step is already completed!

Coromega is offering Tech Cocktail readers a special 25 percent discount on supplements (with the coupon code TECH). Also, the first five people who sign up here will get a free omega-3 test (valued at $150) and a 90-day supply of Coromega.

Why do healthy omega-3 levels matter? Because the majority of Americans are omega-3 deficient, which means most of us are losing out on healthier minds, hearts and bodies. Coromega is a unique delivery system of delicious omega-3 fish oil that comes in a convenient, single-serve “Squeeze” – a tasty burst of goodness with two essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. And it’s clinically proven to have 300% better absorption than regular softgels, which mean you’ll be on your way to healthy levels in no time!

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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