Thinking about freezing fish oil to test its quality? Think again.
First, Why Do I Need Omega-3?
Fish oil is an omega-3 fatty acid that everybody should be getting into their diet in one form or another. The two main ingredients in fish oil that make them so special are known as EPA and DHA, which you might’ve seen on the ingredient list of your fish oil container, or in the corner of an actual container of fish, along with the quantity.
While other forms of omega-3s do exist (in the form of ALA, found in plant sources), they need to be converted into DHA/EPA in the body to be used effectively. The issue here is that the conversion rate from ALA to EPA and DHA is around 1%-20%, which means you would need to consume 1000mgs of ALA to get between 10-100 mgs of EPA/DHA.
If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, Omega-3 capsules containing fish is your best, cheapest and easiest option. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, Vegan Omega containing omega-3 from algal oil is the best option.
Why Are People Freezing Fish Oil?
As long as we’ve been putting fish oil in easy-to-swallow tablets, we have been experimenting with them as well. The most common practice includes putting them into the freezer overnight so they become solid. But why? The original theory was to test whether the fish oil was of high quality or has gone rancid.
If you have a fish oil container with clear gel capsules and haven’t tried this, you should for one interesting reason. Either your fish oil will stay the same color, or turn a cloudy, almost butterish color. This happens due to one simple reason, and not because the cloudy fish oil has gone bad or that the clear fish oil is of higher quality. It happens because different fish oils contain different amount of polyunsaturated and saturated fats.
To clarify, if a fish oil contains more saturated fats than unsaturated fats, the freezing point of the fish oil is higher and changes color. If the fish oil is lower in saturated fats and higher in unsaturated fats it stays clear and takes a much colder environment to freeze solid.
Saturated fat molecules become stiff when put into the freezer and become more difficult to see through, while unsaturated fats remain liquid and clear.
The important distinction to make about this effect is that the ratio of fats is the only thing the freezer test will prove. It will not tell you if a capsule is rancid, oxidized, or full of heavy metals. As long as it has a higher amount of unsaturated fats, the capsules will always come out of the freezer clear even if it is of high or low quality/purity.
On the other hand, fish oil with a higher saturated fat content can be just as good for you, even though it comes out opaque.
Why You Should Still Freeze Fish Oil
While freezing fish oil will only tell you one specific aspect about the product, there are still a few reasons why freezing it might still be beneficial for you.
1. May reduce unpleasant side effects
Another benefit that comes with freezing fish oil is decreasing the chances of having the fishy breath that sometimes discourages individuals from taking the supplement.
Freezing your omegas may also relieve gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea or stomach cramping that affect some when consuming fish oil.
2. Storage space
At the very least, popping your omegas in the freezer will provide a dark and below room temperature space to store it. This is necessary because sunlight will oxidise the fish oil and cause it to become rancid more quickly. The fridge or a cabinet would be fine for this as well.
Take Home Message
Now that we’ve cleared this myth up, you’ll now know that freezing fish oil will not tell you its purity level or rancidity. For the best omega-3 supplements, ensure you buy a high-quality product with as much EPA and DHA as you need, and keep it in a cold, dark place. Happy fishing.