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Could omega-3 tablets mean the end of fishy burps?
Sales of omega-3 dietary supplements may be rebounding after the recent decline, but the market is still not back to growth. The Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED; Salt Lake City, UT) believes a decline in consumer awareness may be partly to blame for the slump in sales, but are current delivery systems also holding omega-3s back?
Most omega-3 supplements come in softgel capsules, which are prone to auto-oxidation and poor shelf-life, and may be challenging vehicles for multi-ingredient preparations, says Elaine Drummond, PhD, clinical and technology development specialist, Glanbia Nutritionals (Carlsbad, CA). And then there are fishy burps, which can be a big problem with omega-3 softgel capsules, Drummond says.
But two new omega-3 powders may sidestep many of these issues by opening the door for tablets and other applications. In July, Glanbia Nutritionals and SternVitamin (Ahrensburg, Germany) each announced the release of new omega-3 powders designed for tablets and other delivery systems. The potential advantages of these new powders include a broader range of formulation possibilities, a more user-friendly experience, and reduced production costs.
Encapsulating omega-3 oils to make a powder isn’t a new phenomenon, but the powders have suffered in the past from many of the same formulation issues as regular omega-3 oils.
“Omega-3 powders have existed for years, but with great stability and usage issues that have prevented their progression to large scale use,” says Glanbia’s Drummond. “They usually need to be refrigerated, and have short shelf-lives and intense off-putting sensory characteristics.”
Drummond says Glanbia’s new omega-3 powder, OmniMEGA, is able to avoid these challenges with a patented technology that involves “spraying omega-3 oils onto a fluid bed of β-cyclodextrin which forms a physical encapsulation around the oil using ionic bonds.” This technology allows for a powder with bonds strong enough to protect the oil from external conditions-whether it’s heat reducing the ingredient’s shelf life, or gastric fluid interactions in the digestive tract causing fish burps.
“With regular oils delivered in a softgel, the gastric liquid dissolves the gel and allows the oils to interact and separate, rising to the surface and resulting in gastric reflux or fish burps,” says Drummond. “With OmniMEGA, the oils are in tiny particles, encased in the β-cyclodextrin, so even when the carrier dissolves and the ionic bonds break, the oil droplets are small enough to remain dispersed in the gastric liquid, thereby avoiding fish burps.”
In studies with volunteers who consumed either OmniMEGA tablets or traditional omega-3 softgels, the OmniMEGA group “reported no adverse events and no fish burps,” according to Drummond. She also says OmniMEGA has been studied to have similar EPA and DHA absorption properties as softgels.
The OmniMEGA powder allows for multi-ingredient preparations-something that was previously not possible because nutrients in gel capsules were prone to mixing and creating adverse reactions, says Drummond. She adds that the powder is suitable for hard-pressed tablets and soft-pressed chewables, and in tablet form, it will remain stable for at least three years at room temperature.
Reduced Production Costs
SternVitamin is offering its own new omega-3 powder which it says has no unpleasant fish taste, causes no reflux symptoms like burping, can easily be combined with other ingredients, and is well-suited for tableting. Tablets made from SternVitamin’s omega-3 powder also have a shelf-life of three years, according to a press release.
But another advantage of delivering omega-3s in a tablet rather than a softgel could also be a reduction in production costs, says Jan Heuer, head of business unit, SternVitamin.
“With our new omega-3 powder, any company that already manufactures tablets can make omega-3 tablets on their existing equipment, whereas soft gel capsules often have to be outsourced to contract manufacturers,” says Heuer. “This lets these companies benefit from the growing demand for omega-3 products.”
With a combination of convenience, cost-efficiency, formulation flexibility, and of course, an absence of fish burps, it may definitely be worth keeping an eye on omega-3 tablets made from powders like these.
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