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What is Enteric Coated Fish Oil?

By Micki Elizabeth
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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Enteric coated fish oil is a dietary supplement that provides nutrients called omega-3 fatty acids that are believed to help prevent a variety of diseases. An enteric coating is a type of barrier used on some pills to prevent digestion in the stomach; not all fish oil capsules have this coating. Some nutritionists say the enteric coating is not absolutely necessary. Several manufacturers sell many different types of fish oil supplements that vary in dosage and ingredients. Many can help provide the recommended daily intake of certain types of fatty acids.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are two specific types of fatty acids found in enteric coated fish oil supplements. These nutrients may reduce inflammation throughout the body, resulting in a wide variety of potential health benefits. Proponents of the oil believe it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease because it can regulate cholesterol levels. The growth of cancerous cells, specifically in the prostate, breasts and colon, may be slowed or prevented by EPA and DHA. Even the brain may benefit from fatty acids’ prevention of memory loss and tendency to speed the process of recovery from depression; thus, fish oils have been used to help prevent bipolar disorder and other mental health issues.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to research the benefits of fish oil and, while much scientific evidence does support the claims fish oil manufacturers make on potential health benefits, evidence is not conclusive. The organization does not recommend using the supplement as the only means of prevention or treatment, and there are those who believe the enteric coating on fish oil is unnecessary and used only to drive up the price. Enteric coating on a pill is necessary only when the acids found in the stomach and upper intestine would impede absorption or change the effect of the pill’s contents. Stomach acids are not known to cause problems with the make-up or absorption of fish oils. Some consumers, however, prefer enteric coated fish oil because it wards against a fishy taste or fishy-tasting burps and breath after the supplement has been taken.

The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of 500mg of both EPA and FHA, a goal which enteric coated fish oil capsules can help an individual meet. Different pills suggest different manners of intake. The supplement should, however, be taken with a meal and plenty of water to aid digestion and fast absorption into the body. Individuals should always consult a physician before adding supplements into a diet, as those with allergies or other health issues may have adverse effects from fish oil supplements.

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Discussion Comments
By ZipLine — On Dec 06, 2013

@fify-- Molecularly distilled fish oil capsules don't cause fishy taste and belching. I think you're better off taking those. Some manufacturers may try to hide a poor quality product with enteric coating.

By candyquilt — On Dec 05, 2013

@fify-- This is a controversial issue. Some people say that enteric coated fish oil supplements are better and others argue the opposite.

Enteric coated fish oil supplements are digested in the small intestine. Most people won't have a problem with their absorption. But those with some underlying health conditions or taking certain medications may not absorb them as well.

If you have a major issue with the fishy taste, acid reflux and belching, then you should switch to enteric coated supplemets. I've been using them for the same reason and they don't give me any problems.

By fify — On Dec 05, 2013

Enteric coated fish oil gets broken down and absorbed in the intestines right? Does this affect the effectiveness of the fish oil?

I take regular fish oil capsules but experience stomach acidity and belching frequently after taking them. The fishy burps are very annoying and nauseating. I might switch to enteric coated fish oil softgels just for this reason.

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