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Concern about discrepancy in omega-3 capsule labels

Fish oil capsules. (Photo: George Hodan)

Click on the flag for more information about New ZealandNEW ZEALAND
Friday, January 23, 2015, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
A study conducted by the Liggins Institute, at the University of Auckland, found out that most of omega 3 capsules available in NZ’s market do not contain their stated active ingredient levels.
The researchers expressed their doubts about the concentration of EPA and DHA the fish oil supplement really has, and the compounds stability, which could cause unknown effects.
Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), in particular eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are believed to produce health benefits including reduction of inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk and improved mental performance.
According to the scientists that participated in the study, among the 32 products tested only 3 contained the concentrations the labels mentioned.
In over half of the products, the oil had oxidised to a level higher than the recommended limit, meaning the oil was turning rancid or already off.
Human nutrition specialist, Professor Murray Skeaff from the University of Otago, highlighted that rancidity is worrying because its impact on health is still unclear.
Nevertheless, the researchers chose not to reveal the names of the brands that passed or failed their testing.
Professor Wayne Cutfield, one of the research authors, emphasized that this does not mean the products are dangerous, but it suggests that tougher regulations should be applied to determine the product actual compounds and whether it is degraded, or may imply a potential health risk.
For Dr Matt Miller, a marine lipid chemist at Plant and Food Research, “Omega 3 is a very bioactive compound and the double edged sword is that it is prone to oxidative degradation."
"As indicated in the article most of the fish oil available in New Zealand, whether capsulated here or in another country, comes from the anchovy or sardine fishery off the coast of Peru," he added, New Zealand Herald informed.
As long time passes from the manufacturing until the products reach consumers, there is a possibility that oxidation of fatty acids, a degradation chain reaction, may occur.
New Zealand is now discussing the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill, which aims at regulating the manufacturing and selling of natural health products. This initiative also seeks to provide the right to information about these products and their functions, and the right to use products that are safe and effective.

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