2

votes

How can I assess the freshness of an Omega 3 supplement in a gelcap?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 05, 2012 at 7:31 PM

I bought a large batch of fish-oil-based Omega 3 from London Drugs more than a year ago, and I am wondering if it is still safe to use. I took it out of its original container and put it in plastic bags (because I was transporting it and I wanted to reduce the bulk), and different batches are mixed. I believe some of it might be expired, most is not.

This is a molecularly distilled fish oil product produced under contract for London Drugs by Ocean Nutrition (some of you might recognize this, they produce for a variety of brands and the products are often labelled with Ocean's logo). These are fatty acid ethyl esters. Though this is some distance from the totally natural stuff, I appreciate the fact that it is essentially free of heavy metals and is minimally oxidized. If I recall correctly, there is dl-alpha-tocopherol in the solution as well, presumably to prevent exactly the kind of oxidation I am worried about (though again, I cannot be sure).

My main questions are:

  • how can I determine whether the stuff is still safe to consume? At the moment, it does not smell strange, in fact it hardly smells at all.

  • how air-tight is a gelcap, and how long does a gelcap typically retain its integrity?

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on July 06, 2012
at 04:35 PM

Wild Alaska Salmon has low levels of mercury. http://www.epi.alaska.gov/eh/fish/

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on July 06, 2012
at 04:30 PM

1) most studies that I have read on fish oil show little improvement except in specific circumstances ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2012/06/11/fish-oil-or-snake-oil-study-questions-omega-3-benefits/ ). 2) I buy frozen wild salmom or previously frozen and defrosted wild salmon. I don't eat a lot of fish, but I do eat a lot of shrimp and mussles. 3) there is some evidence that there are mechanisms (iodine?) that help protect the body against incoming mercury, or you can eat smaller fish. 4) I eat my salmon rare or sashimi style at least part of the time.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 06, 2012
at 04:02 PM

What I didn't see in Kresser's blog posts was the importance of getting the oil along with the fish. Oil is often poured off, and the more processed the fish is, the less oil you get. Remember, I am inland, so I get almost no access to unfilleted fish.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 06, 2012
at 03:15 PM

Thanks, Amanda. What do you mean by "in most studies"? The main issues I have with fish are, one: being inland, almost nothing I can get my hands on will be fresh, two: only the wild fish has any appreciable omega 3 content, three: eating wild fish in quantities sufficient to get a decent supply of omega 3 in my diet will also mean a significant helping of mercury, and four: cooking the fish destroys much of the good fat anyway.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on July 06, 2012
at 06:46 AM

This will only spot "really off" capsules? Still, it's better than nothing.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on July 05, 2012
at 11:32 PM

yep, i seem to remember that fresh fish oil does not have a smell, so if it does smell (stink) when you open one, then it's likely 'off'

  • 121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

    asked by

    (1327)
  • Views
    1.2K
  • Last Activity
    1280D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

4 Answers

3
4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on July 05, 2012
at 08:36 PM

You can't determine how old or safe a fish oil capsule is. In most studies, just eating the fish is a lot better than taking fish capsules.

Check out http://chriskresser.com/the-fish-vs-fish-oil-smackdown for more info.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 06, 2012
at 04:02 PM

What I didn't see in Kresser's blog posts was the importance of getting the oil along with the fish. Oil is often poured off, and the more processed the fish is, the less oil you get. Remember, I am inland, so I get almost no access to unfilleted fish.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on July 06, 2012
at 04:30 PM

1) most studies that I have read on fish oil show little improvement except in specific circumstances ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2012/06/11/fish-oil-or-snake-oil-study-questions-omega-3-benefits/ ). 2) I buy frozen wild salmom or previously frozen and defrosted wild salmon. I don't eat a lot of fish, but I do eat a lot of shrimp and mussles. 3) there is some evidence that there are mechanisms (iodine?) that help protect the body against incoming mercury, or you can eat smaller fish. 4) I eat my salmon rare or sashimi style at least part of the time.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on July 06, 2012
at 04:35 PM

Wild Alaska Salmon has low levels of mercury. http://www.epi.alaska.gov/eh/fish/

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 06, 2012
at 03:15 PM

Thanks, Amanda. What do you mean by "in most studies"? The main issues I have with fish are, one: being inland, almost nothing I can get my hands on will be fresh, two: only the wild fish has any appreciable omega 3 content, three: eating wild fish in quantities sufficient to get a decent supply of omega 3 in my diet will also mean a significant helping of mercury, and four: cooking the fish destroys much of the good fat anyway.

2
782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

on July 06, 2012
at 03:00 AM

The above are good points. However, it is also important to know how those capsules have been stored. If they have been exposed to heat I would assume that they will not be as fresh. Generally, manufacturers have a five year or less expiration date window. If you bought these a year ago and they have not been stored under adverse conditions then they should be ok.

2
Da12b342d4959f5bd776c0f00b072a6c

on July 05, 2012
at 08:59 PM

Break open a capsule and taste. Rancid oil leaves an unpleasant 'hot' sensation on tip of tongue. Oil that is going off also has a distinctive smell.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on July 05, 2012
at 11:32 PM

yep, i seem to remember that fresh fish oil does not have a smell, so if it does smell (stink) when you open one, then it's likely 'off'

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on July 06, 2012
at 06:46 AM

This will only spot "really off" capsules? Still, it's better than nothing.

1
A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

on July 06, 2012
at 06:45 AM

Absent a gas chromatograph, you can't. The "break open and taste" is good for finding rancid specimens, but won't help at all beyond a "good or foul" judgement.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!