You’ll be aware of the increasing and sustained popularity of omega-3 fish oil supplements. In fact, when U.S. supplement users were asked what kind of specialty supplements they consume, this was the most popular.1
That’s not surprising since the polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in omega-3 have been proven to play a decisive role in brain development before birth and during infancy, and maintaining cognitive function as we age, as well as providing significant cardiovascular health benefits throughout adult life.
However, the processing of fish oils into a convenient and palatable form has significant challenges and for years there were major unmet consumer needs.
A consumer study commissioned by Evonik confirmed that traditional omega-3 supplements were facing several challenges and disadvantages:
- Taste: Products are mostly derived from fish oil, and many consumers complain about fishy burps, bad breath and aftertaste after consumption of even highly refined products
- Formulation: The oil form of fish oils limits the formulation possibilities, and the product is usually presented as a large soft gel capsule, which can be difficult to swallow
- Dosing: Available powder forms were low in concentration and not readily compressible into tablets
- Bioavailability: The triglycerides and especially the ethyl ester forms of omega-3 supplements have shown to exhibit low bioavailability, due to slow hydrolysis in the stomach and small intestine, particularly when taken as part of a low-fat diet
- Stability: Most products are oils, which are generally unstable towards oxidation, and have a limited shelf life, even under special storage conditions
The consumer study also revealed that 25% of consumers are looking for more effective solutions with 17% willing to spend more for solid omega-3.
There was a clear need for a form of omega-3 that addresses all of these issues. The challenge with omega-3 as an ingredient is that putting free fatty acids into a solid form is not easy.
How Evonik Health Care rose to the challenge
Using a proprietary process to combine free fatty acids and essential amino acids, Evonik has developed a purified high-concentration powder form of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA solidified as a lysine complex. The product, known as AvailOm®, is not only the highest-load powder in its class, but delivers exceptional bioavailability.
Traditional omega-3 oils will settle on the top of water. But the powder form of AvailOm® allows it to be finely dispersed in water. This positive effect can be observed in the stomach, resulting in excellent absorption of the dispersed AvailOm® even when on an empty stomach. The bioavailability of AvailOm® has been confirmed to be more than five times higher than traditional omega-3 soft gel capsules.
Conventional omega-3 powder technologies are either encapsulated oils or oils absorbed onto carbohydrate carriers. However, the amount of oil that can be encapsulated or absorbed is limited, resulting in formulations with low levels of effective EPA and DHA. Conversely, powders are typically unsuitable for use in tablet form, as they are either not directly compressible or have other limitations. Our AvailOm® powder is ideally suited for these solid dosage forms delivering an extraordinary shelf life of more than four years without the need to use any additives. Its highly concentrated, free fatty acid powder form also enables us to generate superior outcomes from a smaller quantity.
Ticking the consumer convenience boxes
AvailOm® is the first omega-3 product that can be compressed into high-load tablets either in its pure form, or as tablets or other dosage forms in combination with other ingredients. This enables brand owners to develop next generation formulations and delivery forms that tick all the consume convenience boxes.
- Taste: The powder is easily dissolved in the stomach and remains finely dispersed in the gastric juices effectively reducing fishy burps and unpleasant aftertaste
- Formulation: The high load, directly compressible powder allows for many novel ingredient combinations and tablet formulations previously not accessible
- Dosing: The innovative technology allows nutraceutical companies to deliver the equivalent omega-3 fatty acid uptake from two large fish oil soft gel capsules in one small tablet
- Bioavailability: Evonik Health care has managed to squeeze a minimum of 45% EPA and DHA in its powder; this is unmatched and not accessible via encapsulation
- Stability: Scientific studies have shown that AvailOm® is much more stable than other commercial omega-3 ethyl ester products, with a shelf life of over four years
This is just one example of how Evonik Health Care has taken a natural ingredient, applied its technological and scientific expertise, and created a novel product that meets consumers’ needs.
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Reference1. CRN 2016 Consumer Survey. Available at: https://www.crnusa.org/resources/crn-2016-annual-survey-dietary-supplements.