Fish oil - how is it produced?

The process of extracting thefish oil cannot be the same as the process of extracting oil from, say, olives, because the starting food matrix is obviously different. The fish used to produce the oil are anchovies and sardines from open waters that undergo a rapid steam passage to coagulate the proteins and drain the liquids from the cells (water and oil) and are then mechanically cold pressed to collect theraw fish oil. However, raw fish oil goes through numerous processing steps before it is destined for human consumption.

The production process: multiple molecular distillation

Through Short Path Distillation (distillation at reduced pressure and thus reduced evaporation temperature) free fatty acids, heavy metals, colored compounds and other impurities are removed from the raw fish oil, making the oil much purer. During this process, concentration of the fish oils also takes place, leading to a total omega-3 content of 60 to 70 percent. The production of the pharmaceutical-grade concentrated oils requires several steps:

  1. Deacidification: this step removes free fatty acids, the cause of triglyceride breakdown through oxidation (rancidity)
  2. Ethylesterification (transformation to EE) and concentration: fatty acid ethyl esters are obtained by treating triglyceride oil with nonaqueous ethanol and a catalyst
  3. advanced molecular distillation: working under high vacuum lowers the boiling point of the ethyl esters, which makes it possible to separate long-chain fatty acids from short-chain fatty acids. This technique makes it possible to produce oils with different EPA/DHA concentrations and ratios.
  4. Fractionation to remove saturated fats
  5. Urea filtration: urea is added to the oil to form inclusion complexes with saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. The complexes with urea are removed by filtration. The oil obtained after filtration has a higher concentration of EPA and DHA.
  6. decolorization: colored pigments and other oxidation compounds are removed from the oil. Decolorizing earths are added to the oil, which absorb these compounds and are then removed by filtration. If the raw fish oil contained high values of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), activated carbon will be added during this stage of the process to remove these compounds.
  7. Deodorization: The oil is deodorized by passing it through a steam stream working in a vacuum for a short period of time to remove the volatile components that are the main cause of the oil's taste and odor.
  8. Addition of vitamin E: Antioxidants in the form of natural tocopherols are added in accordance with the law.

Ethylation, for a high concentration of EPA and DHA

After the first deacidification step to concentrate the omega-3 fatty acids, an esterification reaction (ethylation) is made to take place. The chemical structure in which these omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found in fish oil is that of natural glycerides (TGs), and with ethylation they are transformed into EE ethyl esters with the formation of an oil rich in ethylEPA and ethylDHA that then undergoes the other listed steps. Many products on the market contain fish oils in EE form produced by the process just described. But Mequor 900 and Omegor Vitality products have unique characteristics.

Meaquor 1000 - medicinal alternative?

Specialty medicines such as L'Eskim, Seacor, or Esapent have an ethyl ester oil as does our product Meaquor 1000, which is designed as a dietary supplement with a high concentration of EPA and DHA to be used as an alternative to these specialty medicines when they cannot be prescribed under reimbursable conditions, offering savings in the cost of treatment.

Omegor Vitality - excellent quality

Our Omegor Vitality product, on the other hand, is made from a fish oil that undergoes an extra production step ( re-esterification using an enzymatic method) to restore the omega-3 fatty acids to the TG triglyceride form, the form that offers the most benefits and advantages:

  • improved absorption of actives
  • greater stability
  • improved digestibility of the product

This extra production step implies 50% to 80% higher costs compared to products in EE form. But it ensures an excellent quality product:

  • this production process yields oils in 90% triglyceride form that are most similar to natural fish oil, in which the triglyceride form accounts for 97-98% of the total fatty acids.

Attached are fact sheets for our product line. I remain available for further information. Sincerely, Rosaria Ramondino Pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Chemist.

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