There is a lot of information on the web about fish oil in the natural triglyceride (TG) form versus the ethyl ester (EE) types, but some of this info is misleading. Let’s clear up a few things.
For starters, not all fish oil works the same. In fact, studies (like this one) show that fish oil in the natural TG form is absorbed by the body 300 times better than EE types!
More from FishOilBlog.com: The Difference Between TG And EE Fish Oils
The problem is, most manufacturers don’t tell you what form their fish oil is in. On top of that, if the specific form is even on the label or ingredients list, it’s usually written in a way that’s confusing.
That’s OK, though.
You can test your fish oil yourself!
There’s a pretty interesting article that goes into a lengthy discussion about the absorption rates of the two kinds of fish oil. What’s more interesting is that there’s a quick test you can do at home to see what form your fish oil is in.
Noticing that the article was published by a fish oil manufacturer, I was pretty skeptical.
So, I decided to try the experiment on my own…using what I had on hand. I was very impressed with the results! You can see them here.
Here’s how to test your fish oil at home
There’s a fairly simple way to tell if your fish oil is in EE or TG form. You’re going to need 3 things:
- a styrofoam cup
- 4 fish oil softgels
- a timer
Note: If you’re using a liquid — use just enough to create a thin layer inside the bottom of the cup. For reference, there’s 5 ml in a teaspoon, and there’s approximately 1.5 ml of fish oil inside a standard softgel.
Now, break the fish oil open (you can use a safety pin or even a pair of scissors for this) and pour the oil into the cup. Set your timer for 10 minutes and go find something interesting to do.
When the timer has stopped, come back and look inside the cup. You will notice one of two things. Either nothing has happened and your fish oil looks the same….or, your fish oil has started to soak through the styrofoam cup!
Now, read the results
If nothing happened, your fish oil is in the form of TG. On the other hand, if your fish oil soaked through, it is in the form of EE.
More from FishOilBlog.com: See Why Ethyl Ester Fish Oil Is Illegal In Other Countries
Is EE fish oil bad for you?
Does this mean EE type fish oil is toxic? Hardly. You can think of it like using a generic dish soap rather than Dawn. The name brand usually works much better than the generic.
First, please understand that your stomach is not made of styrofoam!! Second, what you are seeing happen to the styrofoam cup is a “normal” side effect of adding any oil that has been concentrated and molecularly-distilled (processed to remove impurities).
If your fish oil does not soak through the styrofoam cup, this is a “normal” side effect, too. It just means the oil has been refined to remove impurities, then was converted back into a TG form.
This whole experiment is based on standard rules of chemistry and exactly why it works is a little beyond the scope of this post. All that’s important for you to understand is that it is an easy way to tell what form your fish oil is in.
Now go put your science hat on and do some experiments at home!