GELITA® EC: Managing Oxidation in Omega-3 Capsules

27, 2024
4 min

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly susceptible to oxidation, making the use of gelatin in softgel capsules crucial for protecting the precious oils from external factors. However, this protection does not make them resistant to the acidic environment of the stomach during digestion, where oxidation is also a problem. Therefore, to ensure that this active ingredient reaches the intestine intact, enteric capsules are needed. Our tailored gelatin product GELITA® EC for enteric release not only protects the fatty acids but also ensures a more efficient production process.

With consumers increasingly focusing on a healthy lifestyle, the popularity of health-promoting supplements is on the rise. Among these, omega-3 products, known to support heart health and brain function [1], are one of the most popular choices. Market data shows that omega-3 oils derived from sources such as krill or fish are becoming increasingly valued ingredients within the nutraceutical industry. With an expected average annual growth rate of 13.8 per cent until 2029, rising demand for omega-3 in dietary supplements shows no sign of abating [2]. Moreover, omega-3 is increasingly used in pharmaceuticals and infant formula, with forecasts suggesting that its usage in both sectors will more than double between 2023 and 2029 [3].

Quality deterioration due to oxidation

As polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3s are highly sensitive to oxidation, leading to a degradation of product quality which also negatively affects taste and bioavailability. To counteract this, gelatin softgels have become an increasingly common delivery format as gelatin acts as a buffer, protecting capsule content against lipid oxidation. However, another challenge is the oxidation process in the stomach, where the acidic environment can result in premature degradation of the gelatin capsules. As a result, only a small amount of the omega-3 content remains bioavailable, which necessitates the overdosing of softgel capsules. Studies show that the highest rate of oxidation occurs during the gastric phase, where oxidative stress can result in up to 80 per cent loss of bioactivity [1]. Therefore, to protect the PUFAs during this critical stage and enhance the quantity reaching the small intestine, enteric capsules are needed.

Save time and money with GELITA® EC

Traditionally, the production of enteric capsules involves two steps, the second of which is the application of an enteric coating. However, GELITA® EC offers an optimal, cost-efficient alternative that delivers all the benefits of gelatin, and protects the PUFAs against oxidation, in just one step. This results in a delayed release of non-oxidized omega-3s after passing through the highly oxidative environment of the stomach, which leads to a significant dosage reduction in smaller capsules while ensuring optimal active nutritional ingredients reaching the gut. This can be hugely beneficial during omega-3 shortages, such as those experienced in recent years as a result of challenging fishing seasons. Manufacturers using GELITA® EC can streamline production into a single step, reduce omega-3 dosage per capsule and enjoy significant savings in terms of cost, time and resources.

Aside from oxidation challenges, many manufacturers also encounter difficulties encapsulating krill oil, another prominent source of omega-3. To address this issue GELITA offers EASYSEAL®, a solution that facilitates the production of seam-stable and leak-proof soft capsules. For further insights, delve into our eBook: Sealing Success with EASYSEAL® - The Game-Changer in Softgel Manufacturing | GELITA



[1] Floros, S., Toskas, A., Pasidi, E., Vareltzis, P (2022) Bioaccessibility and Oxidative Stability of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Supplements, Sardines and Enriched Eggs Studied Using a Static In Vitro Gastrointestinal Model. Molecules 27, 415 .

[2] Markets & Markets, Table 50 (Omega-3 Market, by Application, 2024 – 2029)

[3] Markets & Markets, Table 49 (Omega-3 Market, by Application, 2019 – 2023) & 50 (Omega-3 Market, by Application, 2024 – 2029)

Category: #AmazingGelatin