Poking a Toothpick into your Fish Oil...

Last weekend I was a guest speaker at an international convention in Thailand for A4M Anti-aging organization. My subject was on Omega-3 fish oils. I hope to post a video copy of the presentation on the blog within the next few weeks.

A question was raised about flax seed oil versus fish oil asking what was best and I explained that they cannot really be compared because flax seed does not contain either DHA or EPA as it is very difficult for the body to convert the main Omega-3 component of flax oil which is ALA to either of those two forms…and for older people it is virtually impossible. On the other hand the body can convert DHA or EPA to ALA as it just has to drop off some double bonds.

Anyway, what was interesting is that the following day I had an email with excerpts of an article from an apparently authoritative source with a suggested method of determining how one can assess if your fish oil has any contaminants. I thought that I would share this with you. This is what was said.

“If you are concerned about the quality of your favorite brand of fish oil, Dr. Barry Sears recently described a simple “toothpick poke test” that may reassure you. Puncture several capsules with a needle or pin, and squeeze the contents into a small cup-shaped container, such as a thimble. Set the thimble (or other container) in the freezer for 5 hours. If you can easily push the toothpick into the oil, Sears says that means it does not contain serious levels of contamination”.

What a load of absolute nonsense!! I find it hard to believe that Dr Sears would actually say that. I know at times as part of his marketing copy he can go a bit over the top…but, I find hard to believe that he would say this which is so misleading. So please ignore him as being the author of that statement as I have not seen the quote directly from him. Whoever is making that statement is obviously a marketer of molecularly distilled concentrated oils with much of the natural components removed.

I’ll explain.

When fish oil is concentrated some of the natural composition of the oil is removed. So, if you squeeze oil out of the flesh of a fish and put it in the freezer it will freeze. Just like when you take a fillet of fish and freeze it. However, if you convert the oil to ethyl esters during the concentration process then that oil on its own will not freeze as the composition has changed.

With our oils they will partially freeze because they have a blend of the natural non-concentrated oil with concentrated oil. Whether fish oil will freeze or not has nothing to do with contaminants. Anyway who claims that it does not freeze when it is free of contaminants either knows nothing about fish oil or is disseminating false information for marketing purposes.

Contaminants can only be determined by sophisticated laboratory equipment. After all some of the measurements are in parts per billion!!

2 Responses

I am glad you wrote on this subject, because I have often kept my fish oil in the freezer.. It would just thicken, so I used a widemouth jar and scooped it with a spoon. It was handy in the door of the freezer, and I felt it was safer. Is this alright ?

mary dicerni September 09 2011

Hi Mary,
No problem with what you are doing.

Warren Matthews September 12 2011

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