Die Oxidation von Fischöl / Omega 3 (Ω3) und der TOTOX-Wert

The oxidation of fish oil / omega 3 (Ω3) and the TOTOX value

New Year - New Resolutions!

According to current surveys, the resolution most frequently mentioned for the year 2023, at 49 percent, is “ to eat healthier ”.

In the context of a " healthy diet " that conforms to the textbook, sooner or later one will undoubtedly stumble upon the topic of omega 3.

Even people who are less knowledgeable about nutrition know about the value of these fatty acids and, not least for this reason, associate the consumption of fish with correspondingly strong health benefits.

If, on the other hand, fish is not on the weekly menu, people nowadays quickly resort to a substituted supply of these essential fatty acids via dietary supplements.

There is no question that omega-3 supplements are among the most popular and best-selling dietary supplements worldwide, and are often marketed as “ the holy grail of health ”.

This public perception contributed to a more than 3-fold increase in the use of omega-3 supplements in the United States between 2005 and 2011, for example.

While omega 3 supplementation must undoubtedly be viewed as a very potent option in certain scenarios to evoke strong health benefits, it is not the “ golden panacea ” that is often touted and desired by so many people.

For a more complete understanding, let's first take a closer look at the legendary omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 (Ω3) — Polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids

If the term " Omega 3 " (Ω3) is mentioned, this means in the course of human physiology in particular the two animal fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

Thanks to scientific research, the need for these two fatty acids for human life and survival has been known for many decades.

EPA and DHA therefore belong to the category of so-called essential fatty acids.

" Essential " in this context means that humans are dependent on an intake of fatty acids through the consumption of food.

The best-known sources here include fish and other marine creatures, for example in the form of salmon sashimi, grilled mackerel or canned herring.

What are the tasks of omega 3 in the body?

The positive health effects of animal omega 3 fatty acids on, among other things, triglycerides, cholesterol values, brain function or the immune system have been scientifically proven in large numbers and are now widely known. More about the official health claims on the BVL website here .

Although the range of tasks of omega 3 is fundamentally diverse and can be quite exciting for one or the other reader based on the respective individual previous knowledge, this article should not primarily deal with the physiological properties and biochemical tasks of these fatty acids.

Numerous textbooks, blog articles and scientific publications are only a few clicks away in the online library and, if you are interested, quickly provide information about further and more profound physiological processes.

Rather, this article is intended to illuminate a topic that is less in the focus of the media and, if so, is often misinterpreted.

In particular, it is about the oxidation of omega-3 products or the fish oil used in them and the associated relevance of the TOTOX value as a product quality criterion.

"Why fish oil smells rancid" and the oxidation of fish oil / omega 3

Oxidation is simplified as the reaction of the fatty acids with the atmospheric oxygen.

This autocatalytic process takes place through the action of free radicals, which, metaphorically speaking, attack the fatty acids and change them at the structural-molecular level.

It is also less recommended to use bottled fish oil, as once opened it is exposed to far more pro-oxidant oxygen than softgel sealed and protected fish oil.

If liquid preparations are used, they should be used up as quickly as possible and not stored for long periods in order to minimize the content of oxidative lipids.

Like all polyunsaturated fatty acids, the two fatty acids EPA and DHA also have low heat stability.

At higher temperatures, there is a rapid risk of increased and accelerated onset of oxidative processes and the associated potential health risks.

For this reason, when frying and cooking in the kitchen, you should also strictly avoid oils that are based on such polyunsaturated fatty acids (Ω3 and Ω6).

Options that are more resistant to oxidation are butter, ghee or coconut oil.

In order to keep oxidative processes to a minimum and eliminate consumer safety issues, both oxygen exposure and heat fragility must be considered during the manufacturing process of omega-3 supplements.

However, the oxidation of omega 3 and other polyunsaturated fatty acids is a fundamentally multi-step process. 

Oxidation products (peroxides and anisidines)

The initial result of oxidative influences are so-called peroxides, which are also called primary oxidation products.

Eventually, secondary oxidation products, also known as aldehydes, are formed as the oxygen exposure progresses.

Incidentally, these aldehydes are mainly responsible for the unpleasant odor and/or the unwanted discoloration of the oil.

Here, however, a distinction must be made between "rancid" and a fishy smell.

Because fish oil smells like fish

Yes, fish oil may therefore smell like fish in principle, but it should by no means smell " rancid " as this, as we now know, implies an advanced and high degree of oxidation.

One reason for a slight fishy smell, especially when you first open a sealed jar, is that there are tiny residues of the oil at the seams of the soft gelatine capsules that are touched with fish oil.

There is no gas exchange in a sealed package, so some may experience a "concentrated" odor, especially when opening a sealed jar for the first time.

One solution is that "smell-sensitive customers" leave the jar with the capsules open for a while (30-60 minutes) before consumption. This reduces the smell of the capsules.

Back to peroxides...

Characteristically, the peroxide values ​​drop as the oxidation progresses, since these primary degradation products are successively further decomposed into the secondary oxidation products by the pro-oxidative milieu.

These can finally be measured and verified using a so-called anisidine test.

Both the peroxide and the anisidine value can therefore be understood as analytical laboratory criteria to record the various stages of oxidation.

If you now look at the laboratory test report of the YPSI EPA DHA Omega 3 , you can better interpret the vocabulary used therein, including the measured values.

The TOTOX value and its meaning

The TOTOX value ( total oxidation ) is a representative marker for the quality, conformity, safety and freshness of the omega-3 preparation or the oil used in it.

More specifically, it is a value reflecting the total lipid oxidation level taking into account primary (peroxide number) and secondary (anisidine number) oxidation products.

This is a purely arithmetical value that results from the sum of twice the peroxide value and the anisidine number.

If, purely hypothetically, a peroxide number of 3 and an anisidine number of 4 are measured for a product, this preparation has a TOTOX value and oxidation status of 10.

The TOTOX value of the YPSI EPA DHA Omega 3

The quality of our products gets a high focus so that we have the raw materials and final products constantly tested in independent and accredited German laboratories. In contrast to the added value advertised as "laboratory tested", we also regularly publish important and specific laboratory tests online in full length. Like doping analyses , the analysis for arsenic in our rice protein, heavy and light metals in chlorella and others.

How high should the TOTOX value be?

A TOTOX value of 10 is usually regarded as the golden standard.

The following values ​​result in relation to oxidation:

A 10% oxidized oil corresponds to a TOTOX value of 13.8

A 25% oxidized oil corresponds to a TOTOX value of 23.1

A 50% oxidized oil corresponds to a TOTOX value of 47.9

The official guide value for the TOTOX value is:

According to GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3), Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS), the TOTOX value should not exceed 26.

The TOTOX value of YPSI EPA DHA Omega 3 is:

The result of the last laboratory evaluation shows a TOTOX value of 6.8.

And instead of just writing what values ​​we achieve, we have put the full laboratory analysis report online here .

This is an excellent value, which is representative of the quality standards of the YPSI.

On the other hand, numerous products available on the market show TOTOX values ​​above 10 and even higher, which indicates the increased onset of oxidative processes and implies the beginning of oxidative spoilage. Surveys repeatedly reveal that a large number of the omega-3 supplements offered worldwide are of inferior quality and exceed critical oxidation levels. 

The TOTOX value and oxidation status of fish oil products (Omega 3)

A study by Jackowski et al. in 2015 showed that the oxidation status of North American omega-3 dietary supplements is far more problematic to interpret than is often anticipated.

Of the 171 over-the-counter (OTC) products tested in the Canadian market, 50% exceeded recommended oxidation markers and safety limits.

An exception?

Unfortunately, no!

Analyzes on the American market also show similar results.

A study by the renowned Harvard Medical School in 2016 analyzed the three best-selling fish oil supplements in the United States for the extent of oxidative influence and corresponding purity, chemical integrity, effectiveness and safety.

The evaluations revealed that the capsules of all providers tested were full of oxidized and therefore " rancid " fatty acids, which also far exceeded the international standards and guide values ​​of accredited laboratories. 

Product quality of Omega 3

As with other active substances and ingredients of specific dietary supplements, the raw material quality, raw material processing and storage also determine the quality of the end product including its potential biological effect in the body with Omega 3.

Because what is often forgotten or trivialized is the fact that many of the scientific studies that show the various positive effects of omega 3 were carried out with prescription preparations of medical quality.

Recent human studies have confirmed that the effectiveness of an omega-3 supplement is inversely related to the degree of oxidation.

The degree of oxidation can thus drastically impair the effectiveness and massively counteract the intended effect.

In terms of application, this means: An EPA/DHA supplement with a high degree of oxidation and correspondingly inferior quality (rancidity) is far from having the multidirectional influences on health and the intended biological benefit.

But on the contrary!

Oxidized lipids can even induce unwanted pathophysiological effects, such as promoting insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular complications.

In contrast, the YPSI Omega 3 in the EPA:DHA ratio of 2:1 is to be regarded as a high-quality, oxidation-resistant and safe preparation based on the laboratory diagnostic analyses, which can unequivocally develop its intended physiological functions in the human organism.

For more success for you, your health and well-being!

Click here for the YPSI EPA DHA Omega 3

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