Encapsulation Technology

Most fish oil capsules are made from a soft layer of gelatin, which would harden over a long period of time, affecting the release of fish oil in the intestines, leading to lower absorption and bioavailability of fish oil. To prevent this from happening, phytic acid, a unique natural substance found in plant seeds has been added to gelatin capsule. With this, the capsule does not harden over time and has a stable shelf life, which ensures optimal release and absorption of fish oils.

Some fish oil manufacturers also used enteric coating. Fish oils that are not fresh or have oxidised would leave behind a fishy aftertaste or cause a fishy burp. Enteric coating can be used to mask these undesirable side effects. This coating involves different chemical additives to delay release of the fish oil, so that fish oil can make it way through the stomach to the small intestine. Nonetheless, the quantity of coating applied would affect the functionality of enteric coating. Insufficient coating can result in inefficient gastric resistance, while excessive coating could markedly delay release of fish oil when being passed into the small intestine. A study reported that equivalent dosage of enteric-coated drug is not as effective as plain drug (Stroke 37(8): 2153-2158 (2006)).While, pure, fresh and unoxidised fish oil does not cause reflux or fish burps. Hence, there is no need to mask fish burps with enteric coating.

It will be good to choose fish oil that is encapsulated in phytic acid-containing capsule for optimal release and absorption. Avoid fish oil supplements with enteric coating, as it will affect the absorption and bioavailability of fish oil. It may also be used to mask the foul smell of oxidised fish oils. Fresh and unoxidised fish oil does not need to be enteric-coated.