Are Most Fish Oil Products Synthetic?
Reading medical journals and following the mass media, it’s easy to get the idea that fish oil is something any sensible person should use. It’s rare to see anything suggesting that it could be dangerous.
The omega-3 fats, including those with long chains found in fish oils, are said to make babies more intelligent, to be necessary for good vision, and to prevent cancer, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, depression, epilepsy, psychosis, dementia, ulcers, eczema and dry skin.
Certain fish oil supplements contain “not a single milligram” of the omega-3 fats found in fish, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against The Bountiful Company and its subsidiary Nature’s Bounty.1 As a result, people consuming these supplements in the hopes of gaining omega-3’s many beneficial effects may be being misled.
Wild-caught salmon, sardines and certain other fish are an excellent source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two omega-3 fats known for their role in brain health, heart health and more. It’s been shown, for instance, that eating fatty fish two to three times a week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.2
However, because most Americans do not consume much seafood, many rely on fish oil supplements instead. But Nature’s Bounty fish oil contains no EPA or DHA, the suit alleges.3
Are Consumers Wasting Billions on Synthetic Fish Oil?
Fish oil is among the most popular supplements in the U.S. Globally, the fish oil market was valued at $1.9 billion in 2019, with estimates suggesting this will rise to $2.8 billion by 2027.4 Many of these dollars may be wasted, however, due to a chemical process that leaves many fish oil supplements lacking in actual EPA and DHA. According to the suit, which was filed in September 2021:5
“Defendants manufacture, label and sell a Product which they claim to be 1400 mg. of Fish Oil containing of 647 mg. of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (“EPA”) and 253 mg. of Docosahexaenoic Acid (“DHA”)—the essential omega-3 fatty acids that naturally occur in fish …
They also proudly claim that the contents are USP verified, which, among other things, assures consumers that the Product “contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts” … Contrary to what is represented on the label, however, this Product is not fish oil, nor does it contain a single milligram of EPA or DHA.”
Most Fish Oil Supplements Contain Omega-3 Ethyl Esters
The issue with most fish oil supplements is the chemical process used — trans-esterification — which transforms the oil into a synthetic product that’s far removed from the oil you’d get when eating sardines or other fatty fish. The suit explains:6
“What was once a low-grade oil derived from fish offal, has been subjected to a chemical process by which its molecular structure and constituent parts have been substantially transformed and irrevocably altered into a synthesized product that does not otherwise exist in fish, or nature.
Through this chemical process, known as trans-esterification, an industrial solvent is introduced into the fish oil in order to break its natural triglyceride bonds and cleave the glycerol backbone from fatty acid molecules.
Thereafter, ethanol is introduced to which the newly freed fatty acids bond to form fatty acid ethyl esters. Fish oil is stripped of hundreds of its constituent sub ingredients, and the Omega-3s, which include DHA and EPA, are converted into ethyl esters.
Critically, these newly formed Omega-3s are different molecules than the Omega-3s which exist naturally in fish oil. The new chemical by-products are universally recognized by their common or usual name — Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters (“FAEE”).”
Dietary supplement labels should use the product’s common name in order to inform consumers of what they’re purchasing. But fish oil is trans-esterified, it becomes FAEE, the lawsuit alleges, and therefore can no longer be called fish oil on labels.
“To do so, as NBI [Nature’s Bounty Inc] has done, is false, misleading, deceptive, unlawful and perpetrates an actionable fraud on the consuming public,” according to the suit, which added, “Defendants falsely represented the fundamental nature of their product, and as a result of this false and misleading labeli
Article from LewRockwell