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Why it's better to take fish oil capsules at dinner


Numero Uno
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Jun 16, 2012
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Why it's better to take fish oil capsules at dinner

If you're taking fish oil capsules, take those things with the biggest meal of the day. Or at least with a meal that also contains a relatively large amount of fat. As a result, your body will better absorb the fatty acids in your supplement.

Why it's better to take fish oil capsules at dinner

In the 1980s, researchers at Murdock Pharmaceuticals published a human study in which they gave 8 adult men capsules containing a total of 5 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids on multiple occasions. These capsules contained 1 gram of EPA and 650 milligrams of DHA.

The subjects were given their omega-3 fatty acids in the form of triglycerides on some occasions. Those are the fats you will find in most fish oil capsules. On other occasions, subjects received their fatty acids in an ethylated form. Ethyl esters of omega-3 fatty acids are more often found in pharmacological products than in supplements.

Ethyl esters of fish fatty acids are not absorbed as well as triglycerides with fish fatty acids. The researchers wondered whether it makes any difference whether you take capsules with fish fatty acids with a meal with fat. So on one occasion they gave their subjects capsules with a meal containing only 8 grams of fat, and the other time they gave their subjects a meal with 44 grams of fat.

The meals also included 2 grams of linolenic acid.

After the meals, the researchers measured how much fish fatty acids appeared in the bloodstream. The percentages you see in the table below are calculated based on the concentration of linolenic acid, which is by definition 100 percent.

As you can see, the absorption of the fish fatty acids increases by 30 percent with a high-fat meal in regular fish oil capsules. The uptake of ethyl esters increases by a factor of 3.

Why it's better to take fish oil capsules at dinner

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1988 Oct 31;156(2):960-3