Fish Oil

Preparation of omega 3 rich oral supplement using dairy and non-dairy based ingredients

Fish oil is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid, vital for the functioning of the human body. But the undesirable flavour is an inherent limitation of fish oil which reduces its acceptability. Masking its fish flavour can increase acceptability of fish oil. The present study was focused on double encapsulation of fish oil to mask its distinct flavour. Fish oil was emulsified using soya lecithin where emulsifier to fat ratio was kept 1:4. The emulsion droplets were in the size range of 172.9 ± 1.7 to 238.2 ± 33.8 nm. The emulsion was mixed with whey protein—sodium alginate solution and converted to beads by dropwise extrusion in calcium chloride solution. Droplets were converted to soft gel beads containing fish oil. The encapsulation efficiency was 89.3%. Fish oil flavour was perceived from the dried beads. Hence, beads were further coated with high melting fat using pan coater and flavoured for making beads palatable to use as an oral supplement. Beads were free-flowing and light yellowish in colour. Beads coated with high melting fat and vanilla flavour scored more in the sensory evaluation by panelists. Beads were kept in airtight pack and stored under refrigeration.

Encapsulation technology is well known in food, pharmaceuticals, chemical and cosmetic industry. In food industry, it is used for fat, oils aroma, vitamins, colourants and enzymes. Fish oil, being a rich source of highly unsaturated long chain omega 3 fatty acids, possess a strong odour due to oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids. Encapsulation would protect fish oil from auto-oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Jafari et al. 2008 ). Chen et al. ( 2013 ) have encapsulated fish oil with phytosterol esters and limonene by milk proteins. Their study has provided some useful insights into the application of the co-encapsulation concept to protect spray-dried fish oil microcapsules from oxidation by introducing other lipophilic bioactive components, namely phytosterol esters and limonene also as core materials. Co-encapsulation of fish oil with phytosterol esters could effectively prevent polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidation, and the incorporation of limonene showed good ability to mask the undesirable fishy odour.

Among all biodegradable polymers, alginate is one of the promising candidates for delivery matrix because gel beads can be prepared very easily in aqueous solution at room temperature without the use of any organic solvent (Kikuchi et al. 1999 ). Chen and Subirade ( 2006 ) documented that alginates are natural polysaccharides extracted from brown algae and have a linear chain of 1 → f 4 linked β-d-mannuronic acid (M) and R-l-guluronic acid (G) residues. Encapsulation using alginates is most often carried out by drop-wise extrusion of alginate solution through a needle into a gelation medium of calcium chloride solution. Due to the replacement of sodium ion with calcium ions, alginate forms an “egg-box” structure and crosslinking for hydrogel formation occurs. Being food grade, alginate has been used for encapsulating proteins, antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins (Chen and Subirade 2007 ) and probiotics (Hansen et al. 2008 ; Subirade et al. 2010 ).

The demand for functional foods is growing as they are extremely vital for prevention, control and treatment of various chronic diseases (Lee et al. 2012 ). Omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids found in fish oils are among the most important functional food ingredients. They improve the cardiovascular activity, enhance long-term memory and normal brain function (Kralovec et al. 2012 ). However, ω-3 fatty acids are susceptible to degradation releasing unhealthy products such as secondary oxidation products of polyunsaturated fatty acids, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, volatile organic acids, hydrocarbons and epoxy compounds reported by Shahidi and Zhong ( 2010 ). Encapsulation is an excellent approach to avoid above problems as it can provide stability and protection, confer targeted and controlled release characteristics. Furthermore, it masks unpleasant odour and taste, extends the shelf life and enhances the bioavailability and palatability of the encapsulated materials. For effective delivery of functional foods, the carrier systems should have properties such as good uptake, extended circulation time, no unacceptable clinical side effects, high biocompatibility and low immunogenicity (McClements et al. 2007 ). Variety of materials such as cyclodextrin, spring dextrin, chitosan, gelatin and non-gelatin globular proteins such as bovine serum albumin, egg albumin, β-lacto globulin, soy proteins, pea proteins and whey proteins have been used to develop carrier systems for functional foods (Schmitt and Turgeon 2011 ; Xu et al. 2013 ).

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed using SPSS (ver. 20) software to evaluate the effect of three different parameters of high-pressure homogenizer viz. EFR, pressure and number of passes, and Ultra Turrax viz. EFR, rpm and time on the size of the particles. Mean of triplicate analysis with standard deviation was reported in the table and compared using ANOVA. On the basis of the critical difference (CD) means were separated. Post hoc used was Duncan. Sensory analysis was compared based on rank.

Sensory analysis was carried out by nine semi-trained panellists from ICAR-Central Post Harvest Engineering and Technology. The age range was 24–56 year having both male and female on the panel. Samples were identified using alphabetical code. The ranking test was performed on the scale of 1–5. Panellists were instructed to score samples of coated beads for fish oil odour on intensity scale of 1–5. (Where 1. No fishy smell 2. Extra light fishy smell 3. Light fishy smell 4. Mild fishy smell 5. Strong fishy smell.) All the sample were evaluated in the closed chamber having maintained at 25 ± 2 °C and illuminated with fluorescent light.

The amount of unencapsulated oil (free oil) was measured to calculate the encapsulation efficiency immediately after producing the beads. For this purpose, hexane (15 ml) was added to an accurately weighed amount (2 g) of microcapsule powder followed by shaking the mixture for 2 min at room temperature. The suspension was then filtered through a Whatman No. 1 filter paper, and the residue rinsed three times by passing 20 ml hexane through each time. The filtrate solution containing the extracted oil was then transferred to an oven at 70 °C for 6 h for complete evaporation of hexane. The amount of surface oil was calculated by the difference in initial and final weights of slurry container and the encapsulation efficiency was calculated as follows (Tonon et al. 2011 ; Wang et al. 2011 )

Fish oil (2 g) and lecithin (0.5 g) were weighed and mixed properly. 100 ml water was added and mixed using overhead stirrer (EUROSTAR, IKA, USA) with 4 blade propeller type stirrer (R 1342) of 50 mm diameter at 1700 rpm for 15 min to make a coarse emulsion. After 15 min 2 g whey protein concentrate was added gradually to the emulsion and stirred for another 20 min. It was kept overnight for complete hydration of whey proteins. Coarse emulsion was passed four times through high-pressure homogenizer (Constant Systems Limited, UK) at 15,000 psi for fine emulsion preparation. The emulsion was kept overnight at room temperature for protein-liposome complex formation. After overnight storage, sodium alginate was gradually added to the fine emulsion @ 2% w/v. Then the mixture was stirred at 1700 rpm for complete mixing of sodium alginate. The mixture was transferred to the perforated beaker to fall dropwise in 0.2 M CaCl 2 solution (stirred at 500 rpm using magnetic stirrer) for rapid bead formation. After completion of beads formation, beads were kept for hardening in 0.2 M CaCl 2 for another 30 min. Beads were separated using a muslin cloth and washed with distilled water to remove excess of CaCl 2 adhered to the beads. Washed beads were dried in the oven at 50 °C for 3–4 h. Dried beads were stored at refrigeration temperature for further application. For coating of beads, high melting fat (HMF) was taken in the ratio of 1 g HMF: 10 g beads. Flavour was added to the HMF in the ratio of 1:5 [Vanilla Flavour: (HMF)]. Pan coating technique was used for coating beads. Dried beads were directly added to the melted and flavoured HMF and pan coating was done. Beads were enveloped by flavoured HMF upon cooling. These beads were packed airtight and kept away from direct light to check oxidation of fats. During the study of emulsion Ultra Turrax homogenizer [probe S25 N-25G (IKA T-25, USA)] was also used for making the fine emulsion in place of high-pressure homogenizer.

The study was designed to develop stable emulsion of fish oil using dairy protein and natural emulsifier, and convert stable emulsion to palatable beads. Based on preliminary trials, soya lecithin and whey protein concentrate (WPC) were selected for preparation stable emulsion of fish oil. Coarse emulsion was prepared by mixing fish oil, WPC and soya lecithin using overhead stirrer. Fine emulsion were prepared using two different methods viz. Ultra Turrex (High Shear Mixture) and high-pressure homogenizer. Emulsifier to fat ratio (EFR) was kept 1:4 and 1:6 in both experiments while other parameters were varied according to equipment. Rotation per minute (rpm) of high shear mixture viz., 10,000, 12,000 rpm and time for shear viz., 12, 8 min were kept as variables for Ultra Turrax while pressure viz., 10, 15, 20 Kpsi and number of pass viz., 1–4 were kept as variable for high-pressure homogenizer. The experimental range of variable was decided based on preliminary trials. Both methods were compared on the basis of particle size (in mm) and the best combination was selected further experimentation. These developed emulsions were converted into beads using sodium alginate and calcium chloride according to previous work. For pan coating of beads, wax and high melting fat were used and compared. The flavouring was done with vanilla and orange flavour to increase its palatability. The results of all the experiments were obtained in triplicate.

Results and discussion

Optimizing emulsion preparation Emulsification of fish oil was tried to make oil in water emulsion using different emulsifier and natural emulsifier soya lecithin was selected for further study. Klinkesorn and co-workers have prepared emulsion using tuna oil and lecithin. They have made a coarse emulsion using high-speed blender and sonication for 2 min at a frequency of 20 kHz, an amplitude of 70%, and a duty cycle of 0.5 (Klinkesorn et al. 2005). Emulsions were prepared with UT and HP using different combinations and compared for particle size. In case of UT method, it can be seen from Table that average particle size was lower in EFR 1:4 as compared to 1:6 which indicated that EFR 1:4 ratio was adequate to envelop fish oil globules formed due to shearing in UT. A higher percentage of oil in the emulsions results in a larger mean droplet diameter for the same homogenizing conditions (Floury et al. 2000). Particle size was lower (248.5 nm) when the sample was gone for UT for 12 min duration than 8 min. Also, particle size was lower when samples are subjected to 12,000 rpm than 10,000 rpm. High rpm of UT and longer duration may have given higher shearing led to smaller droplet size. As droplets were smaller, total surface area of droplet was increased which was covered by lecithin, emulsifier. Hence sufficient emulsifier must be there to envelop the newly formed droplets otherwise these small droplets unite with each other and form bigger size globule. This may be the possible reason for having bigger sized droplet in samples having EFR 1:6. Statistical data analysis showed a significant effect of emulsifier on the mean particle size while others parameters and interaction effect was not significant which indicate that statistically rpm and time haven’t any significant effect on mean particle size. Table 1 Ratio of Emulsifier Rpm of Ultra Turrax Particle size (nm) Time (in minutes) of Ultra Turrax 12 min 8 min 1:4 (Lecithin: Fish oil) 12,000 248.5 ± 12.6 266.0 ± 30.4 10,000 262.4 ± 35.1 277.8 ± 33.6 1:6 (Lecithin: Fish oil) 12,000 318.3 ± 34.6 359.9 ± 67.7 10,000 423.9 ± 161.6 511.4 ± 178.2 Open in a separate window The same study was conducted with HPH method, in which EFR were kept same as previous one but levels of homogenizer pressure and levels of passes were fixed instead of rpm and time which was done in UT. As like the earlier studies, particle size was found lower (182 nm) in EFR 1:4 than 1:6 (Table ). Some worker also reported an increase in mean fat globule diameter with increasing oil content for the homogenization of oil in water emulsions with the APV Gaulin homogenizer. The decrease in droplet diameter was observed with increasing pressure and number of passes, which is in agreement with previous studies (Qian and McClements 2011; Tan and Nakajima 2005; Tcholakova et al. 2003). Statistical data revealed that effect of EFR and number of passes have a highly significant effect on particle size. This study also complemented results of the previous study regarding EFR. So optimum level of emulsifier was necessary to form small size emulsion. Additionally, as the number of passes in homogenizer increased, sample suffered more shear resulted in the much smaller droplet. The mean droplet diameter continued to decrease as emulsions were passed through the homogenizer an increasing number of times (Qian and McClements 2011), but the further reductions were fairly modest. According to Trotta et al. (2002), duration of processing can affect emulsion stability. Reported studies showed that the number of times the product was passed through the device affected the mean particle size and the particle size distribution. Statistical analysis proved that droplets obtained after the third pass and forth pass were not significantly different (Table ). Also, higher pressure and the higher number of passes resulted in increased in size of droplets which can be observed when a sample having EFR 1:6 passed through HPH four time at pressure 20,000 psi. It was observed that repeating the processing or cycling resulted in a decrease in average particle size of the droplet and a narrowing of the particle size distribution, after which mean particle size and standard deviation both increased as processing continued as reported above. This observation was in harmony with reports validating that droplet size was the result of breakage and coalescence and that, for systems containing relatively high percentages of oil, increasing the operative pressure does not always lead to a reduction of emulsion droplet size. Optimum shear and optimum emulsifier were required for the fine emulsion. Both the studies gave similar result about optimum level of EFR 1:4 for good emulsion. When both UT and HPH was compared on particle size, HPH gave much finer droplets as compared to UT. Also, PDI (Poly Dispersity index) of emulsion made by HPH was quite low as compared to UT. Table 2 Ratio of emulsifier Passes of high-pressure homogenizer Particle size (nm) Pressure of high-pressure homogenizer 10 Kpsi 15 Kpsi 20 Kpsi 1:4 (Lecithin:fish oil) 1st Pass 233.3 ± 13.0a 226.2 ± 13.8a 225.4 ± 10.7a 2nd Pass 203.2 ± 7.2b 214.8 ± 27.1b 238.2 ± 33.8b 3rd Pass 185.6 ± 6.5c 183.8 ± 11.3c 192.3 ± 23.2c 4th Pass 182.0 ± 4.9c 172.9 ± 1.7c 191.8 ± 2.7c 1:6 (Lecithin:fish oil) 1st Pass 246.6 ± 11.8a 251.5 ± 24.3a 248.3 ± 10.6a 2nd Pass 227.3 ± 8.1b 214.9 ± 12.3b 213.1 ± 7.6b 3rd Pass 200.2 ± 8.0c 196.5 ± 10.5c 200.3 ± 8.9c 4th Pass 201.3 ± 5.0c 196.7 ± 17.1c 216.6 ± 36.0c Open in a separate window The mean particle size and the PDI influence the physical stability, solubility, biological performance, release rate, turbidity and chemical stability of emulsions (Tamjidi et al. 2013). High-pressure homogenization produced more stable emulsions than high-shear homogenization (Trotta et al. 2002). Based on these considerations, HPH method was selected for making emulsion and best combination pressure and pass 15,000 psi and 4 passes were selected in which smaller sized fish oil globules were reported. Particle size analysis of selected combination showed lower value for both mean particle size (163.6 nm) and PDI (0.157).

Standardization of method for production of alginate beads containing fish oil After optimizing process parameters for emulsion formation, next objective was to optimize the process to encapsulate nano-emulsion in a matrix of alginate using sodium alginate–calcium chloride system. In first attempt, sodium alginate was dissolved in already formed emulsion and beads were formed by dropwise extrusion to 0.2 M calcium chloride solution. Encapsulated beads were harvested and dried. Visible fish oil was observed on the surface of dried beads also fish oil smell was perceived which showed that fish oil was escaped from alginate matrix. The decrease in viscosity was observed sodium alginate solution containing fish oil. Tailing was observed during beads formation due to above effect. Fine fish oil droplets were found in calcium chloride solution remain after hardening of beads and fish oil smell perceived from calcium chloride solution. Hence, further modification in the process is required to encapsulate fish oil. Sodium alginate droplet converted to calcium alginate bead by replacement of sodium ion with calcium ion. Crosslinking of alginate chains form beads of calcium alginate and target molecule entrapped in that matrix. When beads were dried, volume of beads reduced due to loss of water and matrix material gets contracted. As fish oil droplets were not bounded to alginate, they escaped and transferred to surface when the beads were squeezed due to drying and contraction of the bonds. Hence, retention of fish oil in alginate bond was possible only if there was any bond between fish oil droplet and alginate network and/or there was some filler material to reduce contraction effect of alginate bonds. The milk protein products viz., sodium caseinate and whey protein concentrate have excellent emulsifying and dehydration properties (Keogh and O’Kennedy 1999). The purpose of the whey protein was to emulsify and stabilise newly created fat/water interfaces. Since whey proteins are globular in nature, any adsorption to an oil/water interface will result in an unfolding of the protein molecule, stabilising the interface but denaturing the protein. Experiments were made using whey protein and skim milk powder as filler at the same level (2%, selected from preliminary studies). It was observed that sample prepared with whey protein concentrate had lower surface fish oil content and was more free-flowing than sample prepared with skim milk powder. Samples were checked for encapsulation efficiency and it was 89.3 ± 0.5%. So whey protein concentrate was selected for further studies. When coarse emulsion with whey protein solution was kept overnight for hydration, drier and free-flowing beads produced then earlier. After incorporating these process modification, standardize procedure was followed during next experiment of making whey protein-alginate beads containing fish oil.

Coating of whey protein-alginate beads containing fish oil Sinchaipanid and co-worker have reported the application of hot-melt coating for controlled release of propranolol hydrochloride pellets (Sinchaipanid et al. 2004). Propranolol pellets containing 60% microcrystalline cellulose were prepared by using direct pelletization technique in a fluidized-bed rotary granulator. The pellets of 16:18 mesh size were collected and coated with the molten wax at various ratios and thicknesses in a fluidized-bed top spray coater. Whey protein alginate beads containing fish oil (WAF) was coated with wax as well as high melting fat using pan coating technique in which calculated amount of coating material was melted and beads were directly added to the pan. Beads coated with high melting fat were found to be more free flowing than beads coated with wax. Solidification time of wax was much faster than that of high melting fat hence it is difficult to control coating. Irregular coating and clumps found in beads coated with wax. In addition, beads coated with wax have a hard coating and gritty texture. Considering all observation high melting fat was selected for the further application. It was also observed that ratio of coating material to beads (HMF:WAF) remains almost unchanged irrespective of the initial quantity of coating material. The remaining quantity of coating material was left in the pan as uncoated material. So, 10% more HMF were taken for coating purpose as some fat would adhere to the pan also.

Flavouring of coated WAFs Flavouring increases the palatability of product. Fish oil was encapsulated but still, there was smell of fish oil and high melting fat resulting in less acceptability. Hence, high meting fat was flavoured at the time of coating with two different flavours viz. orange and vanilla at different concentration to increase palatability and acceptability. The idea of masking flavour was taken from US 6,235,267 (Santi and Nelson 2001) which was about taste masking of phenolic using citrus flavours. Sensory evaluation showed that vanilla flavour has more flavour masking effect that orange flavour. Finally, vanilla flavour was added in high melting fat at the rate of 20%.

Colour analysis of samples Colour analysis of prepared beads showed a significant difference in L*, a* and b* value of four types of beads (Table ). There was no significant difference in L* value of beads coated with HMF whether they contain fish oil or not. But the difference was significant in beads without coating. Coated beads have HMF on their outer surface hence they will show almost same lightness while lightness of uncoated samples will differ reflection due to fish oil. All sample means were significantly differed for a* value. In case of b* value, no significant difference between means of beads coated with HMF without fish oil and beads without coated with HMF with fish oil while other means were significantly differed. Probable reason could be the cumulative effect of thickness of coating as well as fish oil content. Table 3 Sample Description L* a* b* Average perception A Coating with HMF and without fish oil 47.09 ± 0.56b 8.65 ± 0.09c 32.20 ± 0.76b 1.14 ± 0.44a B Coating with HMF and with fish oil 48.22 ± 0.26c 6.68 ± 0.19a 29.56 ± 0.97a 2.43 ± 1.33b C Coating without HMF and without fish oil 43.51 ± 0.12a 9.30 ± 0.17d 34.61 ± 0.21c 1.29 ± 0.73a D Coating without HMF and with fish oil 48.11 ± 0.59c 7.04 ± 0.15b 32.80 ± 0.22b 3.71 ± 1.36c Open in a separate window

Is Fish Oil Supplementation Right for Kids?

Kids and adults alike need vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to maintain a healthy, functioning body. For kids, these nutrients are also used for vital growth and development.

Just like other important nutrients for growth and development (such as vitamin D, iron, and calcium) kids need omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids come in three forms: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

(alpha-linolenic acid) EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

(eicosapentaenoic acid) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

ALA is found in plant oils. Foods like walnuts, soybeans, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are good sources of ALA. EPA and DHA are primarily found in fatty fish, but you can also get them from eating other seafood and even some algae.

ALA is called an "essential fatty acid." Our bodies cannot make ALA on its own, which means we have to get it from food sources. EPA and DHA can be made in our bodies from ALA, but the process is inefficient.

These are some reasons why USDA MyPlate recommends that kids eat fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, and herring. If your kids don't regularly eat these fish, you might want to look for another source of omega-3 fatty acids to include in their diets, such as:

Algal DHA supplements

Fish oil supplements

Foods and beverages that are supplemented with DHA or EPA

Multivitamins that contain DHA/EPA

Fish Oil Benefits

Omega-3s are important to many aspects of health, growth, and development. For example, they make up the membranes that surround our cells. Levels of DHA are especially high in the retina, brain, and sperm cells.

The important role omega-3s found in fish have in our health is well-known. What is unknown is whether fish oil supplements provide health benefits.

Some studies have indicated that people who eat fatty fish and seafood as part of an overall healthy diet might be at a lower risk for developing certain chronic diseases. However, it was not clear whether the benefit was related to the food people were eating regularly, or specifically from the omega-3s they consumed.

When it comes to infants and children, studies on cognition and behavior are usually the focus. While lower mercury fatty fish intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding might be beneficial to a baby's health, the same benefits cannot be implied via fish oil supplements. The same goes for studies on the benefits for kids.

There is no conclusive evidence of the benefits of fish oil consumption for children.

Sources of Fish Oil

You can get DHA and EPA from several food sources, including:

Cod liver oil

Fatty fish . Herring, rainbow trout, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and sardines have the highest levels of DHA and EPA.

. Herring, rainbow trout, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and sardines have the highest levels of DHA and EPA. Other fish . Pollock, flounder, scallops, clams, shrimp, catfish, canned albacore tuna, canned light tuna, and fish sticks have less DHA and EPA than fatty fish, but they do contain some.

. Pollock, flounder, scallops, clams, shrimp, catfish, canned albacore tuna, canned light tuna, and fish sticks have less DHA and EPA than fatty fish, but they do contain some. DHA-fortified foods and drinks. These products may use fish-derived DHA or algae-derived DHA.

If you plan to supplement using DHA-fortified foods, keep in mind that the amounts found in fortified foods are likely less than would be found in a serving of fatty fish. If food is something that your child eats regularly, the amount can add up. However, this amount should be added to the daily intake total if you are considering offering an additional fish oil supplement.

Fish Oil Dosage

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults eat a variety of fish (preferably those high in omega-3 fatty acids ) at least twice a week. Adults should also eat plenty of foods that are rich in ALA, such as flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans and soybean oil, tofu, flaxseed, and canola oil.

The AHA does not make recommendations for children. However, the food pyramid advises parents to include fish, nuts, and seeds in a child's diet.

While it might not be a hearty endorsement, the AHA does state that there is "some limited evidence that suggests eating fish rich in EPA and DHA may reduce the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease."

There is not yet a more specific milligram per day recommendation for DHA and ARA for kids. If they are getting the fish oil from eating fish, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommendation for kids is two servings of fatty fish in a week.

A serving for a one-year-old is 2 ounces and increases to 4 ounces by age 11. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations for DHA intake for kids—two servings of fatty fish would cover those needs.

When serving fish to their kids, parents should also consider the warnings about certain types of fish and mercury levels. This includes limiting canned albacore tuna to no more than one serving per week.

Young kids can eat two servings a week of other fish that are lower in mercury, such as canned light tuna, salmon, sardines, pollock, and catfish.

Women who might become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should not eat any fish that has high mercury levels, such as swordfish, bigeye tuna, shark, orange roughy, king mackerel, and tilefish.

Fish Oil Supplements

There are many ways to introduce fatty fish to your children—even starting when they are still babies. The sooner you begin to incorporate fish into a child's food choices, the more likely they are to enjoy it.

You can get creative with your offerings, which will help your child develop a healthy relationship with a variety of foods, including fish. For example, salmon and tuna can be made into tasty burgers or fish cakes, and you purée canned fish to easily add to a marinara sauce. If your child does not eat fish regularly, your pediatrician might recommend that you give them a supplement.

Although doses of fish oil that mirror what you'd find in child-sized servings of fatty fish are not thought to be harmful, giving kids fish oil supplements is not a clear-cut choice. Not all studies have shown that they offer any benefit.

There are a variety of fish oil supplements for kids. You can even find gummy vitamins with fish oils included. If you choose to supplement, keep in mind that amount of omega-3 fatty acids supplements contain will vary greatly.

Multivitamins that are advertised as including DHA might actually contain very little DHA. Be sure to check the label to ensure you are getting the amount of DHA that has been recommended by your pediatrician. You might want to ask them which brands they trust.

What You Need to Know

There is a lot for parents to consider when thinking about fish oil in fish and fish oil supplements. DHA, ALA, foods fortified with DHA derived from algae, and the risks of mercury in fish are just some of the facts you will want to understand.

Here are some other things to keep in mind about fish oil.

Choose Supplements Carefully

If you opt to include a supplement in your child's routine, look for a fish oil supplement or omega-3 supplement that contains both DHA and EPA if you want the possible benefits of fish oil. Include a variety of sources. Fish, algae, and fish oil are all sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The fishy taste of some fish oil supplements is often masked by other flavoring ingredients. Read the ingredients list and labels carefully.

Be Aware of Allergies

Do not give your kids fish oil supplements if they are allergic to fish or shellfish.

Learn About PCBs and Mercury

There are concerns that some fish oil supplements can be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or mercury. This is because the FDA does not have to approve supplements or ensure that they are safe or effective.There are things you can look for to help ensure a pure product:

Buy supplements that state they are USP (United States Pharmacopeia) certified can help to make sure they meet quality, purity, and potency.

Choose brands that use a third-party certification.

Molecular distillation also removes mercury and PCB.

Understand the Ingredients

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. This means that our bodies can not produce them on their own and need to get them from our diet, either from the foods we eat and drink or from a supplement.

There are no % daily values for DHA, EPA, or ALA. This is true even if you see them listed on some food labels or supplements. There are, however, adequate intakes set for omega-3 fatty acids for kids. These numbers include ALA, DHA, and EPA all in a single recommendation.

Consider the Environmental Impact

Researchers have started to study the environmental impact of overfishing smaller fish to produce fish oil supplements. You can often find this addressed on individual brand websites. Do a quick search before making a purchase, as data changes as fishing changes.

Does Baking and Frying Fish Destroy Omega-3 Content?

When people try their first Omega Cookie®, they often ask: “How do you know that the omega-3 fish oil benefits don’t get destroyed in the baking process?”

It’s a good question and something every person interested in increasing their omega-3 intake should consider. After all, how you prepare your fish and fish oil supplements affects the omega-3 fatty acid content and quality.

While there is still not a lot of research about how frying, baking and canning fish affects the omega-3 content, a few interesting studies give us a good indication of what may happen during the heating process.

Omega-3 Content in Fried Tuna Versus Cooked Tuna

When you fry fish in a skillet, you expose the omega-3 fatty acids to high temperatures. As the omega-3 gets overheated, the fatty acids begin to break down, meaning you may end up with significantly less omega-3 in your meal.

One study from India examined the omega-3 content in fried tuna. Researchers found that a shocking 70 to 85 percent of the EPA and DHA omega-3s were destroyed in the frying process. Study investigators also explored several other ways of preparing the tuna. The verdict:

– Canning destroyed virtually all the omega-3 content in the tuna.

– Cooking the tuna, as opposed to canning, frying and microwaving, preserved the greatest amount of EPA and DHA fatty acids.

EPA and DHA Content in Baked Fish

Another recent study from Greece compared different ways of preparing fish – this time working with anchovies and sardines in an oven.

The researchers found that when they baked sardines rich in EPA and DHA for 20 minutes at 200°C (about 400°F), the fish retained its rich EPA and DHA content. However, when they fried the fish, researchers noted that the fatty acid profile changed completely. It no longer resembled the fatty acid structure of the original fish!

The Healthiest Way to Prepare Fish

Actually, it is no surprise that frying fish provides fewer nutrients than baking or cooking fish. After all, fried foods are typically more processed, containing more destructive fats than other types of prepared foods. However, the implications of these studies are important for the fish and fish oil consumer.

In both studies cited above, baking or boiling the fish best preserved the omega-3. Combining the fish with olive oil also seemed to add extra protection to the omega-3 fats. Following the researchers’ advice, we should ask for baked or boiled presentations, rather than deep frying or even pan frying meals. And while we don’t want to raise any red flags about canned tuna just yet, it would be appropriate to suggest that canned food does not have the same nutritional value as fresh food.

Omega-3 Implications for Research Studies

For omega-3 researchers too, these findings could be crucial to future epidemiological studies. When comparing diet impact on health outcomes, researchers typically record the consumption of seafood, but not how that seafood is prepared.

For example, in a large study about omega-3 some years ago, researchers included deep fried fish and chips as a source of omega-3, and concluded that omega-3 lacked any real health value. Study results may have been completely different if the impact of fish preparation had been included in the analyses.

To accurately determine the advantages of consuming omega-3 fatty acids going forward, it is imperative we pay attention to the preparation and quality of the source material reported in the studies. As the above findings indicate, not all fish and fish oil provide the same values of omega-3s so it is important to understand the disparity.

How Omega3 Innovations Is Different

Back to the original question: How do we know that in preparing our baked products, we are not destroying the omega-3 fatty acid content?

In creating the Omega Cookie® and Omega Heaven®, we paid careful attention to the influence of heat on the omega-3 rich food product by measuring the impact of temperature and time on nutritional value. We also conducted six to 12 week long clinical trials, which were designed to measure changes in blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides — as well as the changes in chronic inflammation — to see if the fish oil was being effectively absorbed. The results exceeded typical findings from fish oil studies. Our average participant doubled the amount of EPA and DHA in his or her cell membranes, a clear indication that the fish oil was working.

We have found a way to prepare foods without creating any fishy taste, all the while maintaining the nutritional value of fresh fish. Rest assured, you can eat any Omega3 Innovations product with confidence, knowing they deliver the best omega-3 fish oil on the market today.

Still, we’re pleased you asked.

Eric Carter