GOED Response to Critical Omega-3 Animal Study on Oxidation Published by New Zealand Researchers

A research paper linking oxidized fish oil in rats to newborn mortality and maternal insulin resistance was recently published in the American Journal of Physiology. While GOED is usually not concerned with the media’s reporting on animal research, this particular paper was authored by Albert et al, the same group that published the January 2015 paper claiming 83% of fish oils tested in New Zealand were oxidized. Members may remember that GOED completed its own independent testing, which does not support the Albert paper’s conclusions, and several groups requested that the paper be retracted. Read more about the background in our January 21, 2015 news alert.

The reported research used exaggeratedly high doses of highly oxidized fish oil. If the results could be extrapolated to humans (which they cannot), the advice should be don’t consume 40 times as much fish oil as you normally would consume if you have bubbled oxygen through the liquid oil for 30 days while exposing it to light.

READ GOED’S FULL RESPONSE (including Technical Points)

Below are key points that we thought would be important for members to share if they receive any questions from customers or consumers.

Key Points:

  • The paper reinforces the importance of the work fish oil refiners and encapsulators do to control oxidation in oil.
  • The media will likely focus on the negative finding in the highly oxidized oil, which is not representative of normal fish oil products, but the study observed beneficial effects from the arm that consumed normal fish oils.
  • The authors noted that the results cannot be extrapolated to humans, in part because of the high dosage of fish oil used in the study, the equivalent of 40ml per day (a typical fish oil capsule contains around 1mL).
  • In addition to utilizing dosages that are 10-40 times higher than retail supplements, the oil appears to have been oxidized at levels that are at least 10 times higher than the upper limit the industry has voluntarily set and which are codified in regulations around the world.
  • The study did not include an oxidized control, so future studies should consider typical dosages as well as the effects of oxidative products from non-fish oils (like vegetable oils), since these are consumed in much larger quantities in the human diet and are often deliberately heated and oxidized.
  • DHA and EPA are particularly important nutrients in pregnancy, reducing risk of early preterm births and contributing to the normal development of the brains and eyes of babies. Pregnant women do not have any cause to worry about oxidative products in retail supplements, but if they are concerned the easiest thing they can do is open a capsule and if it smells too fishy for them, just try another brand.