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pharmaceutical grade fish oil

Fish Oil Ethyl Ester vs Triglyceride – Revisited

written by Vin Kutty

comments 59 comments

fish oil ethyl ester triglyceride

There is a lot of back-and-forth about fish oil types – triglyceride (TG) versus ethyl esters (EE).

OmegaVia was highly concentrated ethyl ester form of fish oil. Since 2016, it in Triglyceride (rTG) form.

I get emails about this almost daily.

  • Is EE fish oil is really fish oil?
  • Is there alcohol in it?
  • Will it be absorbed?
  • I heard it is banned in several countries!

We’re nutritionists. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we believe that foods are better sources of nutrients than supplements. We’d much rather you get your Omega-3 from wild fish.

However, eating salmon three times a week is neither possible nor convenient for many. Enter supplements. So supplements, at best, are stopgaps.

I think debaters can find common ground thus far.

Saying that ethyl ester form of Omega-3 is not ‘real fish oil’ because it’s concentrated is like saying calcium supplement is not milk. Taking fish oil is not the goal but rather getting enough Omega-3 and balancing excess Omega-6 levels.

The Purpose of Ethyl Ester Fish Oil

The purpose of OmegaVia (and other ultra-concentrated supplements) is very simple: deliver a very high amount of Omega-3 into the body.*

And they do the job very well.

By extension, their purpose is NOT to condense all benefits of fish into a pill, which cannot be done. Ethyl ester oils cannot do that and neither can triglycerides, phospholipid or free fatty acid forms.

Each of these four forms of Omega-3 are prepared differently and have different costs and applications.


  1. We would never make a liquid fish oil product that’s to be taken by spoon using a free fatty acid product – that would be a disaster due to the rancidity risk. Triglyceride-form is a better for that application.
  2. Phospholipid Omega-3 (from krill oil) can’t be concentrated because the phospholipid bond breaks down and that reduces absorption.
  3. Triglycerides cannot be concentrated without first converting into ethyl esters.

So for the most part, low concentration products are triglycerides. Highly concentrated products are ethyl esters or rTG-forms.

Concentrated TG Fish Oil

You can convert concentrated ethyl ester oil back into triglyceride form using lipase enzymatic conversion. Ultra-concentrated TG oils are made this way.

To be blunt, all this technical hair-splitting side steps the key reason for taking Omega-3 supplements, which is to increase Omega-3 levels in the body.

Both EE and TG forms of fish oil do it perfectly well. And equally well.

Pharmacokinetics vs Pharmacodynamics

The pharmacokinetics (what the body does to fish oil) of ethyl ester vs TG is very slightly different. Your body breaks down EE oils and ‘rebuilds’ it the TG form, so there is a short delay – but your body still knows exactly what to do with it.

However, the pharmacodynamics (what the fish oil does to your body) of both forms of fish oil is exactly the same.

There is NOT A SINGLE published health benefit of Omega-3 you get from TG form that you cannot get from EE form*

Not a single one.

There are over 25,000 published papers on Omega-3 and their health benefits.* It’s the most studied substance after aspirin. The vast majority of this research was conducted using ethyl ester form.

All the PhD scientists conducting the research don’t seem to be alarmed about ethyl ester oils. In every single case, the ones raising the alarm are those selling TG oils. Coincidence?

EE Fish Oil and Alcohol

You’ll also hear fear-mongering about alcohol generated by metabolizing ethyl ester forms – technically, this is not incorrect, but no one seems to mention how infinitesimally small the amounts are. (see Science Alert below)

If the alcohol amounts we’re talking about were substantial, you’d find fish oil supplement users laughing or passed out near their medicine cabinets! You’ll find more alcohol in orange juice – many foods and all fruits and juices have naturally present alcohol.

I’ve done the math: you’d have to eat several hundred OmegaVia pills in one sitting to equal the alcohol in one lite beer. This concern is not based in reality and that’s why I call it fear-mongering.

Yet, calling ethyl ester oil a ‘poison’ is the #1 ammo of all TG fish oil marketers. ‘The UGLY TRUTH,’ some call it.

TG Fish Oil – Slightly Better Absorbed

To be fair, there are minor differences in absorption. TG form is slightly better absorbed, but only slightly.

For this very minor improvement in absorption, you will pay a 2X premium.

The concept of relative difference vs absolute difference is slightly technical.

Quick explanation: 2% – 1% = 1% (this is absolute difference.) 1% divided by 2% = 50% (this is relative difference.)

50% is bigger and more impressive sounding. Which one do you think marketers and salesmen prefer?

This is gratuitously exploited by marketers of TG fish oil to suit their needs. In other words, the real difference in absorption between the forms is exaggerated – 50% or 70% or even 200%, depending on who is selling the product.

It’s just marketing.

The truth lies in absolute difference, which no one will mention. (Cholesterol medications are marketed this way too: ‘33% less heart attacks,’ but the absolute difference between statin drugs and placebo is only a couple of percent.)

If I were to put on my weasel-hat and hawk EE fish oil on late night TV infomercials, this is what I’d say:

‘Ethyl ester oils are natural – they are found in fruits and juices! We’ve been consuming them for millennia!

But that’s not all!

Concentrated TG Fish Oils that passes for ‘natural’ well, sheesh, they have 2 to 3 fatty acids per glycerol molecule! That’s unheard of in nature!

But wait…there’s more!

EE fish oils have a natural number of fatty acids per glycerol backbone. Speaking of backbone…ask the TG guys what percent of their oil is TG. You’ll never get an answer! You know why? Because if you buy one bottle of their stuff, they’ll keep sending bottles every month until your grandchildren are eighty!

So call now! Order one. Or a hundred. Heck, I don’t care! You’ll eventually pay for a hundred. Hurry! Call now! If phones are busy, it’s because we’re in trouble with the FTC.’

But I jest.

Empty Stomach vs Taken With a Meal

The real difference in absorption virtually vanishes if both forms are taken with a meal. The fats present in meals increases the absorption of EE oils.

The difference in absorption also lessens if you take both forms of fish oil over a long period of time. If you only plan on taking fish oil for a week or two, then TG is definitely better. But otherwise, as the President of Tersus Pharmaceuticals recently put it to me, ‘Saying TG fish oil is better is like judging the winner of a marathon twenty minutes into the race.’

If you plan on taking fish oil for the long-term, don’t sweat the minor difference.

In my opinion, this is not worth the 2X premuim. Why? Because both forms are perfectly safe and the pharmacodynamics are exactly the same.

In other words, both will make you healthier if you’re suffering from Omega-3 deficiency. And ultimately, isn’t that what we all really want from supplements, to make us healthier?

If Omega-3 must be consumed in the form nature intended, then only eating fish will do. Supplements – all kinds – fall far short.


You will also read that EE fish oil is ‘BANNED!’ in many countries.

They are not banned anywhere.


In Japan and Australia, EE fish oil is sold exclusively as drugs and supplements are in TG form. If anything, that should give you more comfort in the efficacy of EE fish oils, not less.


Since marketing verbiage is not standardized or regulated by any US government body, there is a lot of language and philosophical flexibility in how companies approach fish oil marketing. Instead of embracing quality, transparency and consumer education, many companies opt for false comparisons, gimmicks and styrofoam-cup parlor tricks.

It’s sad that you, the consumer, have to wade through all this conflicting, self-serving information.

The fact still remains: if someone can show me peer-reviewed published data that shows differing pharmacodynamics of EE vs TG fish oil where TG fish oil effects different health outcomes, we will change OmegaVia’s formula to TG oil. Why? For selfish reasons! Because we all take EE fish oil and give it to our families. If something else is proven to be better, we want what’s truly better. We don’t anticipate having to make this formula change anytime soon.

For a much more detailed explanation and scientific references to the claims above, please see these previous blogs here and here.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Join the conversation

  1. I, for one will be buying your product in the very future. As you may know, some of us got our prescription benefit cut with obama care. I have about three months supply before I will run out, and then I will turn to you. I have high triglycerides, so I will be your customer. I have been on lovaza for about two years or so, but I did buy from you one time when my insurance refused to pay any longer, but they did pay until obama care, and they then put us on medicare, which has a donut hole that you hit pretty quick if you have to take expensive meds. So I am coming. SOON!!!!

    • Hi Emmett – thank you, I remember emailing you a couple of years ago. Let us know if we can be of help.

    • Hi ilovegaga – we have not reduced Omega-3 amounts in our product. What you’re noticing is an IFOS reporting issue. We have results tested at two other labs besides IFOS. Rest assured that the current batch of product has all the Omega-3 the label claims and then some!

        • Hi Sean – there is no link to a study in your comment. Can you please share?

          Two out of three OmegaVia products (EPA 500 and DHA 600) are in the TG form. These products are in the TG (rTG) form because of two reasons: 1) to remove the EE vs TG debate off the table, as mountains were being made out of EE molehills and 2) to help increase absorption by about 10%. Eventually all OmegaVia items will be in rTG form.

          I still think this EE vs TG debate is self-serving fanning of fears by those who have financial interests in the TG form. The ‘debate’ was started by people selling TG oils back in the early 2000s. It has since gotten away from them and embraced by the interwebs.

  2. Hi Vin,

    Any chance you know when you’re coming out with the mini pills?

    I’d like to buy those.


    • Hi Sam – the ‘mini’ pills will be ready for shipment in about 2 months. My best guess is September 2013. It is an EPA-only product with 500 mg of EPA. Two-thirds the EPA of regular OmegaVia with less than half the size. Personally, I will be switching to the smaller pill the minute it is available!

      • Hi Vin: I’m curious about the EPA pills. I don’t think the site discusses the relative benefits of these pills and the “regular” Omegavia pills. Apparently the smaller pills don’t have DHA…but isn’t it important? Sorry if I missed this discussion, but can you direct me to it if it is here, or if not, can you expand on this a bit? Thanks!

        • Hi Brian – EPA 500 is still a new product and we are getting the word out. We published several blogs about the advantages of having a high-EPA formula.


          All of these features apply even more to EPA 500.

          Yes, DHA is important, especially to pregnant/nursing women, children, those recovering from stroke and brain injury etc. The purpose of EPA 500 is to provide EPA only to those who want just EPA. DHA is counter productive for people with depression and mood issues – see blogs above, especially the one on DHA and your brain.

          • Thanks Vin… I read the blog posts and looked at other info on the web re: DHA. Since DHA is important and your “regular” pills have a substantial overage of EPA, I don’t really get the benefit of EPA only pills, other than as a product for people with specific needs. And the mood issue argument seems a little light on science. I would imagine that one guiding principle is to eat whole foods, since that is what we have evolved to eat, but after a brief search, I could not find the DHA/EPA ratio found naturally in fish. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

            • Hi Brian – if you are not struggling with any specific health issues (like depression) which benefits from a high-EPA or EPA-only products, then you are better off with a regular Omega-3 product when you find yourself eating less fish than you should. Yes, of course, whole foods are always preferred over supplements – that’s a given! People rarely supplement their way out of illness, but it helps get you there when combined with a good whole foods diet.

              EPA/DHA ratio of fish depends on the species – most are higher in EPA than DHA. Some, like Tuna and Salmon are higher in DHA.

  3. For fish oil in enteric pills, if I understand it correct, means the enteric pill will not breakdown in the stomach but rather in the intestines.

    Won’t that somehow affect EE fish oil? Will they miss the hydrolysis process in the stomach mentioned in the last paragraph about the science?

    • Hi Pav – no, enteric coating will not affect EE fish oil. Most of the digestive enzymes needed for absorption is present in the intestines. Yes, some absorption takes place in the stomach if the pill is not enteric coated, but most happens in the intestines.

  4. Hi Vin,
    Is it possible that EE fish oil can add stress on the liver or cause any damage to other body organs with long term usage?

    • Hi Keynen – highly unlikely but there is no evidence to say conclusively either way. I presume you ask because of the molecule of ethanol liberated during metabolism. As I outlined about, the alcohol thing is a non-issue cooked up by marketers.

      It’s OK to be concerned about what you put in your body. Actually, I highly recommend it. But the above presumption is misplaced concern in my opinion.

      A much bigger issue is increased inflammation and oxidation of LDL from too much Omega-6. I’d rather people cut back on their seed oils and processed foods to tackle this problem than take more Omega-3, regardless of whether it is EE or TG.

  5. Hi Vin,

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this site, I learn so much. You repeatedly mention the need to cut back on seed oils (corn, soybean, sunflower, etc.) . I cook with extra virgin olive oil but happen to love corn and edemame and eat them weekly. Is eating them just as harmful as using their oils (which are commercially processed ? )

    I love almonds too and eat them 4-5 times/week, 20 Trader Joe’s roasted, unsalted almonds to be exact, about 1 ounce by weight. Almonds have 12,053mg of omega-6 per 100gr so if my math is correct, 1 oz = 28.35 gr, I’m ingesting roughly 3,500 mg of omega-6 daily with just the almonds alone. Is there a limit to how much omega-6/day can be consumed ? I only take 180 mg EPA/120 mg DHA daily from Nature Made for general health … I know, I know, will increase to 1,000mg now that I’ve found your site.

    Thanks so much.


    • Hi DPK – thank you!

      Eating corn and edamame occasionally is OK. I avoid both but if a salad at a restaurant happens to have either, I don’t have a meltdown. But when I eat at restaurants, I know I am probably eating foods cooked with high Omega-6 seed oils. THAT bugs me. I have a silent meltdown inside my head.

      Macadamias have the least Omega-6 of all the nuts that I eat. Cashews are OK. Most other nuts are full of them. So I try to go easy on them but do not avoid them. I don’t get into the milligrams and grams of it all…just keep it to a handful a day or less. Watch out for those Costco almonds and cashew tubs! They are addictive!

      If you’re consuming 3,500 mg of Omega-6 per day (I bet it is higher!) you’re already getting up there. Granted it is better than most people! I’ve seen suggestions of 2-4% of calories for combined Omega 3 and 6. That’s 5 to 10 grams per day combined. So if you want a 1:1 ratio, you know where you need to be. It is not easy!

      I’d really rather you drop your 6 than up your 3 to get to the right balance.

  6. Hey Vin,

    Have you seen Jorn Dyerbergs 2010 study on this subject? What are your thoughts? I’m surprised you don’t mention Dr. Dyerberg’s study, since you reference him in other posts.



    • Hi Christian – yes, I’ve read Dyerberg’s study. Neither this blog nor the ones here: and overlook the publication. The study is referenced in the above blogs. It does not ‘change the calculus’ and the message of these blogs remain the same: TG and rTG are slightly better absorbed then EE oils over the long-term. Both TG and the hyper-synthetic rTG outperform EE in the short-term, as in Dyerberg’s study. However, the biological end-effect of all these Omega-3 forms have never, ever proven to be different. And from a consumer perspective, concentrated EE oils are inevitably the best bargains going – the premium required for TG oils cannot be justified. If someone is uncomfortable with science behind Omega-3 concentration (EE oils), it is far better to turn to eating fish 2-3 times a week.

        • Hi Eric – good question.

          This article was written in 2013. Back then, the increased cost of triglyceride form Omega-3 felt unwarranted even though there is a slight increase in absorption when compared to ethyl ester forms. But two things have happened since. First, the premium required to make triglyceride form oils have come down a bit. Second, informed fish oil consumers insist on triglyceride form oils. This change in consumer behavior was not based on science, but rather a response to aggressive marketing by fish oil companies selling TG form oils by demonizing EE forms.

          These days, ethyl ester oils are used by value brands.

          We have always provided a premium product with lots of additional testing (multiple third party tests), features (plant-based enteric coating), radiation residue testing, lower limits on oxidation parameters than the industry standards, low-heat CO2 extraction and chromatography, additional deodorization step, soy-free tocopherol made from sunflower combined with rosemarinol for antioxidant purposes, and the list goes on. We do a lot of things to make the product better than commonly seen fish oil supplements. So, the change from EE to TG (rTG) was, well, sensible, even if the improvement in absorption was minor.

          We still think there is nothing wrong with EE oils even though there is a slight improvement in absorption with TG oils. If your budget does not permit TG oils, then EE oils are just fine.

  7. Thanks,
    I appreciate the response. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years. With the explosion in the popularity of fish oil, prices appear to going down significantly. I imagine more studies will emerge on this subject. I tend to be skeptical of studies if they aren’t done by scientists with a long term interest in the subject. That’s why I take Dyerberg’s work more seriously than others. He’s been researching this subject for decades.
    All the best,

    • True, Dyerberg is, after all, the ‘father’ of Omega-3.

      Pricewise, the cost of crude fish oil has been steadily going up. I don’t ever see it going back down. By the way, almost 90% of all fish oil is used in commercial fish farming, mostly in China. Almost all the oil used for supplements comes from about 10% of the catch. At this rate of consumption, we may have to switch to algae-based Omega-3 in a decade or two.

  8. Thats interesting, I was not aware of that. When you say the price is going up, do you mean the price of crude fish oil? Or 18/12? Or high concentrates like yours? I think 18/12 has been fully commoditized at this point. Ten years ago I took Cod Liver Oil, but these days would not even look at it because of its low concentration. As an environmentalist, I appreciate the possibilities of Algae. Thanks again, I enjoy reading your blog.

    • Hi Christian – prices are going up for all of the above.

      10 years ago, there was just one big algae oil maker – now there are several smaller ones but none are competitive with fish oil on price. But vegetarians and eco-conscious people have more choices now.

  9. Vin –

    Why do you propose a max of eight OmegaVia EPA 500s? Why would one want to limit EPA to 4 g. per day?

    Thanks, Rick

    • Hi Rick – 4 grams of Omega-3 is FDA’s preferred daily upper limit. That’s eight EPA 500 pills. EU authorities prefer 5 grams. Having said that, if there is acute inflammation, I think you could go higher than 8 pills a day for a few days or weeks and combine with a sugar-free and very-low-Omega-6 diet. Long term, you will be best served with a low Omega-6 and low-sugar/low-glycemic diet. Such a diet will allow you to maintain a low-inflammation state best for your heart, joints and mood. Some authorities like Dr. Barry Sears prefer high doses of Omega-3. I’m a bit more conservative when it comes to dosage, preferring to combine diet improvements with a little supplementation.

  10. Dear Vin:
    Congratulations for your website, I am in the fish oil and aquaculture business in Chile and enjoyed your EE versus TG discussions. I would appreciate you could send me a phone number where to contact you

    Best regards,

    Oscar Cornejo

  11. Hi Vin

    First of all: Your Product is awesome! I really love it!

    My question for you is, I take the EPA 500 Pill intentionally on a empty stomac, because I take heatburn medication and on a empty stomac the enteric-coating seems to work very well.

    Does it make a big difference in absorbtion for ethyl-esters fish oil pills?
    Would you recommend to take the pill during the meal?

    Thanks in advance and have a nice day

    • Hi Marco – thank you. Glad you like the product. There are a few things that stand out in your email. On an empty stomach, triglyceride form fish oil is slightly better absorbed than ethyl ester form. I’m not sure this will be an issue for much longer because we are changing oil forms to triglyceride by Spring 2015. In the meantime, you will still absorb most of the ethyl ester Omegas, but just not as much as much, if it were in the TG form. If you think the enteric coating works well on an empty stomach and since you said you have heartburn, I suspect you have issues with stomach acidity. You may want to see an integrative MD about it. And read this:

      • Hi Vin

        Thank you very much for your feedback!

        So i’ll stick taking it on a empty stomach 🙂

        I’ve already read the other page, but thanks for mentioning it!

        And I’ve another question for you:
        All studies I’ve read talk about 1000mg EPA per Day for mood disorders – so why do you recommend 2g?

        And should I take twice a day 1g or 2g at once?

        Many thanks and have a nice day!

        • Hi Marco – most studies have found 1000 mg to 2000 mg as being effective. I prefer 2000 mg per day as a good dose for mood issues because the impact it has on inflammation is obviously greater at 2000 than at 1000. And I subscribe to the notion that most mood disorders have a strong inflammation component to them. Since you’re taking on an empty stomach, I’d split up the dosage to twice a day.

          • Thank you Vin, your Feedback is very helpful t0 me!

            I have some other questions to you 🙂

            first, omegavia is the first product of which I don’t have any stomac issues (and my stomac is usually fast upset ^^)

            but now I notice some kind of other side effect: I feel like I’m getting the flu and I also feel like I’m easier stressed.
            Do you think these side effects will pass away after some time?

            I’m only taking the product for some days.. I directly started with 1000mg… now I think my plan would be decrease the dose to only 1 pill for some weeks – what would you recommend?

            And I’ve another (off topic) question if you wouldn’t mind:
            Which kind of diet would you recommend for mood disorders like depression & anxiety disorders?

            thank you very much Vin and have a nice day 🙂


            • Hi Marco – if you actually have the flu, you need to see a doctor! I’ve never heard of anyone feeling more stressed after taking fish oil.

              I suggest going off the product for a few days and starting up again at 1 per day dosage. Then ramp up by 1 pill per week to your desired dosage.

              Best diet for depression and anxiety is a whole-foods-only, anti-inflammatory diet like Paleo or Zone. Or a combination of the two.

          • Edit:

            I’d like to add another question about fish vs. fish oil:
            Most fish contain more DHA than EPA, so they aren’t the better choice in treating mind disorders than fish oil capsules – especially EPA-only formulas… is this correct?

            If not, what kind of fish would you recommend for treating mind disorders?

            many thanks and have a nice day!

            • Hi Marco – no, most fish do not contain more DHA than EPA. It varies with the species. My suggestion is to eat fish two to three times a week – any wild fish. Don’t over-think this.

  12. Ignorance is bliss & a little knowledge is dangerous-me.

    From what I read DHA is more for brain function. But higher doses of DHA are not beneficial for depression & mood disorders? Also the amounts you suggest seem to be 3-4 times the daily requirements recommended. I know one can debate that back & forth so one should just keep tweeking?

    Very informative article as you try to explain both points of view. Like with everything else one must do his homework & hope “the facts” are the facts.

    Appreciate your reply. Thanks.


    • Hi Robert – everyone needs DHA, whether they’re depressed or not! EPA helps moderate inflammation and that eases some depressive symptoms. It’s really all about managing inflammation. No harm in taking a quarter of what I’m recommending, but there may not be any benefit either. How much Omega-3 you need depends on your diet, your level of inflammation, your Omega-6 status and how much seafood you eat. There is no one answer that works for everyone. There will have to be some tweaking involved.

      • One other question. Why are you going to the TG on one of your products after you’ve blasted it in your article?

        Thank you for answering.

        • Hi Robert – my beef is and has always been the companies/people who spread fear and misinformation about ethyl ester fish oil because I don’t think the fear is warranted. This faux-controversy exists only in the commercial realm. This fear is not entrenched in academia/scientific realm. As I’ve stated before, most academics roll their collective eyes whenever they get asked to weigh in on the EE vs TG debate. I have never had any issues with TG form, phospholipid form, free fatty acid form of fish oil. They all achieve the ultimate goal of increasing Omega-3 incorporation into your cell membranes. They all support healthy inflammation response. They all help to manage triglycerides if combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan. But EE is the most cost effective and studied of all the forms.

          A quote from the article above:
          “All this technical hair-splitting sidesteps the key reason for taking Omega-3 supplements, which is to increase Omega-3 levels in the body. Both EE and TG forms of fish oil do it perfectly well.”

          To answer your question, why did we switch our EPA 500 to TG form? Because our customers have been asking for it. Fear spreads quickly. A lot of people are unnecessarily afraid of ethyl ester form of fish oil. The fear is unwarranted, but our consumers want us to sell them TG form oils. My personal opinions diverge from that of Innovix Pharma, the company that sells OmegaVia, on this matter. While I might think switching to TG is unnecessary, the company has an obligation to its loyal customers. We are responding to you.

  13. Vin,

    I am somewhat confused about which of the two fish oil products (OmegaVia fish oil 60 capsules or OmegaVia EPA 500 120 capsules) that I should take? Both are the Ethyl Ester form, correct? I assume from what I have read that the EE form is the better form – correct? Perhaps it would be better if I explained a little more about myself. I am 71 years old in fairly reasonable health (taking some meds – for cholesterol, high Prolactin level, high blood pressure, acid reflux, and the blood thinner Plavix because I had a TIA many years ago. I would greatly appreciate your recommendation best suited for my needs and condition. Thank you in advance.


    • Hi Richard – EPA 500 was recently transitioned into the triglyceride (rTG) form. OmegaVia is in ethyl ester form.

      Triglyceride form is slightly better absorbed, but this absorption difference somewhat goes away when both types are taken with a meal and when viewed over a long duration. I think you’d be well served by a product that contains both EPA and DHA.

  14. Hi Vin

    I can’t find the page again, so I’ve to bother you again…

    Somewhere I read Omegavia will swich to TG form, is this correct?
    When will this happen?

    Many Thanks

    • Hi Marco – OmegaVia EPA 500 is now in the triglyceride form. The TG form of EPA 500 is already available from us and

      • Do I have to make a note while ordering to make sure getting the EPA in triglyceride form respectively is there any EPA left in EE?

        Many Thanks

  15. Mr. Vin Kutty,

    Doing a little research, ran into your article and had to speak up.

    First, I have been in practice specializing in nutritional medicine for 20 years and I always check facts that are proposed by any manufacturer.

    For the most part, professional brand products that cater to professionals make valid distinctions that demonstrate that rTG fish oil is superior to EEs. rTG simply are better absorbed, do not oxidize as readily, a point I believe you make too, and good companies readily reveal the % of rTG in their product–over 92% by the best.

    You make some valid points. Nothng wrong with EEs but they simply are not as good—period.

    You say: There is NOT A SINGLE published health benefit of Omega-3 you get from TG form that you cannot get from EE form. True, but misleading.

    In fact there are many papers that compare the benefits of fish oil products in the forms that they come in and rTG provides a more sterling outcome. In some cases, the phospholipid bound fish oil out performs all.

    For my buck, even though I am spending more, I always go with the best… rTG and phospholipid bound fish oil.

    Best wishes…Ralph

    • Hi Ralph – I think for the most part, we are in agreement. rTG or TG forms are slightly better absorbed. How much better? That’s where marketing muddies the water. I’ve seen lots of outrageous claims. The truth is that the difference (when viewed from an Omega-3 index perspective) is not as big as one would hope.

      rTG forms are slightly more resistant to oxidation. Again, not much. My grad school thesis was on lipid oxidation, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

      If you are taking liquid Omega-3, then TG and rTG will certainly taste and feel better in the mouth. To me, these are subtle advantages. I attend ISSFAL and GOED conferences regularly and the scientists who study Omega-3 roll their collective eyes at this bogus, marketing-driven debate. They regularly get asked their opinions on this subject in the Q&A sessions after presentations and their responses are virtually unanimous: focus on getting the right amount of Omega-3.

      Still, all OmegaVia products are now in the rTG form. So why did we change all our oils to rTG form? Well, it certainly wasn’t because of compelling science. It was mostly because of market forces. People THINK it is better and have started to avoid EE forms. Being stubborn and sticking with EE form made no sense when our consumer base was moving towards TG form. Right or wrong, we chose to service our customers instead of argue about science.

      You are incorrect on the percent rTG in oils. Higher is not better. An rTG oil that’s 60% in TG form will often be better absorbed because it will contain more free fatty acids than 90% rTG form. And free fatty acids are far better absorbed than EE, TG, rTG, and PL forms. The percent of TG form in rTG oils is now being used as a marketing tactic by companies, particularly ones that cater to the practitioner channels. Caveat emptor.

  16. This article seems relevant to the EE debate in the realm of using DHA to lower blood pressure.

    Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure by directly activating large-conductance Ca²⁺-dependent K⁺ channels.

    From the abstract:
    DHA ethyl ester, contained in dietary supplements, fails to activate BK channels and antagonizes the stimulatory effect of DHA. Slo1 BK channels are thus receptors for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, and these fatty acids–unlike their ethyl ester derivatives–activate the channels and lower blood pressure. This finding has practical implications for the use of omega-3 fatty acids as nutraceuticals for the general public and also for the critically ill receiving omega-3-enriched formulas.

  17. Hi Vin,
    I just wanted to really thank you for your fair stance on this issue, despite Omegavia moving towards using rTG. It really increased my respect for your company!

    Unfortunately, it seems like most other companies are more interested in making money through unethical marketing practices than admitting the truth. There are plenty of people who are okay with spending 50% more for a 10% improvement because they want the best, but it is good for people to know that they don’t have to if they can’t afford it.

    After previously looking at the studies on PubMed myself, I came to the exact same conclusions, though I did come across the study mentioned by the previous post and was a bit confused. I’m thinking there are a couple of possible factors:

    1) The human slo1 BK channel has been shown to work differently than the mouse one. (I don’t know enough about this topic to make any conclusions).
    2) It could just be that they were just looking at the immediate effects, but after 30 or so days they would be similar…

    What do you think?

    • Hi Tony – thank you for your comments. The Ethyl ester vs TG ‘debate’ largely goes away if you look at long term, consistent consumption of Omega-3. But it’s true that you will see big difference in the first day or so. I put the word debate in quotes above because it is mostly a made-up debate by marketers looking for an edge. After 20+ years of doing this, I’ve learned that most people don’t know or care about this. There are a few that feel very strongly and I feel they may be victims of marketing. Then the small group of people who (like you) do their own research and come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter that much. You’re better off paying attention to dosage, diet, lifestyle, exercise, and watching it all with regular blood tests and Omega-3 index.

  18. Have you reviewed the 2014 study by Hoshi and others in Japan titled:

    Omega 3 fatty acids lower blood pressure by directly activating large conductance CA2 dependent K+ channels.

    Hoshi’s research claims the TG form of DHA lowers blood pressure while the EE form does not and is actually an antagonist to the process.

    Also, after 30mday trials, the TG cohort had a higher level of Omega 3 I their blood than the EE group.

    Please review the study and reply, as I remain confused on the EE vs. TG debate.

    • Hi Joe – yes, I have read the Hoshi study When you look at the overall evidence, both EPA and DHA together (ethyl ester or not) seem to help moderate blood pressure when used together with a health diet and exercise plan. More here:

      I am not saying Hoshi is wrong. But it is always good to review all points of evidence.

      When all OmegaVia formulas were in the ethyl ester form a few years ago, I wrote a few articles on the subject, concluding that the EE vs TG debate lacked merit. Now that all OmegaVia formula are no longer in ethyl ester form, I still think the debate is baseless and mostly marketing-driven. The key is to get an efficacious dose of Omega-3 into you, preferably from fish.

      More importantly, if you’re interested in blood pressure, the best things you could do is to dramatically increase activity, eliminate sugar and refined grains, dramatically increase vegetables and limit your diet to foods that were alive very recently. Eat stuff that was alive last week. After all that, if you still want a little additional support, try 3000 mg of Omega-3, 400 mg of Magnesium, and 100 mg of Pycnogenol as supplements. Do not stop taking prescription meds without talking to your doctor and discuss the above changes with your doctor, in case you need to alter your dosage.

  19. “The fact still remains: if someone can show me peer-reviewed published data that shows differing pharmacodynamics of EE vs TG fish oil where TG fish oil effects different health outcomes, we will change OmegaVia’s formula to TG oil. ”

    So, is it TG or EE now? Confusing wording. I understand that it is an old article. But, not explicitly written on the product page about the form.

    • Hi Ali – yes, confusing. I understand.

      Those words were written almost 10 years ago when OmegaVia was in the ethyl ester form. It’s been in the triglyceride form for over 5 years. We switched from ethyl ester to triglyceride, not because of superior pharmacodynamics or health outcomes with TG form, but because consumer perceive it to be superior.

      We try to focus on science when it comes to formulation changes, but in this case, the reason was consumer psychology, not science.

      • Well, it is honest for you to admit that. Most mfrs probably wouldn’t. I’ve been reading the pros and cons of EE and Triglyceride forms and my head is spinning.

        • Hi Samia – researching the pros and cons of Ethyl Ester vs Triglyceride is not a good use of time. The only reason you and I are talking about this is because marketers of TG oils played up consumer fears in hopes of taking market share away from EE products. Once you plant a seed of doubt or fear, it’s a powerful thing to erase or undo.

          If you afford the slight premium and want slightly better absorption, go with TG.
          If you are planning on taking Omega-3 over the long term and remember to take your pills with a meal, then EE is fine.

          Instead of focusing on EE vs TG, look into total Omega-3 content, oxidation (rancidity) levels, and third-party testing. I would rather take a high concentration EE oil that has ultra-low TOTOX and a publicly available certificate of analysis than a slightly better-absorbed TG oil that has lower in Omega-3 potency, higher TOTOX, and the contents are unknown.

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