Q. How much EPA do I need?
A. This depends on several factors. Our current recommended intake of long-chain omega-3 is set at 450mg (which is just under half a gram and is equal to around 2 portions of fish per week). The average intake in the NZ adult population is currently estimated to be less than half of that amount, and for people who don’t eat any fish at all, intake can be as low as 50 mg daily. Taking 2 capsules daily would therefore provide the recommended amount needed for general health. For specific conditions, however, the amount of omega-3 required is generally higher. Such conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – for these conditions we would recommend initially taking up to 8 capsules daily.
Q. Will your products make me gain weight?
A. Whilst the main ingredients in our products are oils (fat), it is doubtful that they will cause weight gain. E-EPA 90, Vegepa E-EPA 70, Omegaflex DUO and Vegepa E-EPA 70 Orange Chewables provide between 4.5 and 6 kcal (calories) per capsule. More important, however, is that omega-3 fatty acids play a very important role in fat metabolism in the body and actually push dietary fat towards the production of energy rather than fat storage. In other words, people are more likely to lose weight by including omega-3 in their diet.
Q. How do your products help my blood pressure?
A. The benefits of omega-3 supplementation for controlling hypertension (high blood pressure) are well established. Since the therapeutic dose required to reduce blood pressure is relatively high, we would recommend initial dosage of 4 capsules of E-EPA 90 or 8 capsules of Vegepa E-EPA 70 per day, which would provide just over 2g EPA.
Q. How do your products help my cholesterol levels?
A. EPA inhibits an enzyme called HMG-CoA, which regulates the rate of cholesterol production in the body. As with recommendations for high blood pressure, the amount of EPA needed is relatively high; we would therefore recommend 4 capsules of E-EPA 90 or 8 capsules of Vegepa E-EPA 70 per day, which would provide just over 2g EPA.
Q. Can I take your products if I’m taking statins?
A. Yes, in fact a combination of statins and EPA has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels more effectively than either substance individually. Statins, like EPA, inhibit an enzyme called HMG-CoA, which regulates the rate of cholesterol production in the body.
Q. Why do you use pure EPA without DHA in some of your therapeutic products?
A. Whilst these fatty acids are both essential for good health, their structures are very similar and they compete for binding sites as well as essential enzymes. EPA and DHA are found together in most supplements, but their competitive relationship means that the anti inflammatory beneficial actions are derived from any excess EPA or DHA, once any equal quantities of EPA and DHA have effectively cancelled each other out. Many recent clinical studies, especially those focusing on the benefits of omega-3 in inflammatory conditions, have investigated the actions of pure EPA owing to its dual protection against excess inflammation in the body: EPA displaces the omega-6 AA content of cell membranes, reducing the inflammatory products that can be produced from AA – effectively regulating inflammatory pathways – and it also enhances the production of anti-inflammatory products that are directly converted from EPA. Supplementing the diet with pure EPA without DHA therefore maximises the beneficial actions of this important nutrient for inflammatory conditions because it is unopposed by the competing actions of DHA for binding sites and enzymes.
Q. Will I become DHA-deficient taking your EPA only products?
A. It is very unlikely that taking a DHA-free product will negatively affect DHA status, as the body will merely increase its production of DHA from internal EPA stores.
Q. Why do you include omega-6 in your products?
A. We include omega-6 GLA in our products to ensure that the high concentration of omega-3 EPA does not cause a shift in the omega-3:omega-6 ratio. Also, omega-6 GLA is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid that has been shown to work synergistically with EPA, enhancing the benefits of this omega-3 fatty acid.
Q. But isn’t omega-6 inflammatory?
A. The omega-6 story is indeed a little confusing. However, omega-3 and omega-6 are two very different families of fatty acids that compete for the same enzymes within the body. This ‘pool’ of enzymes is quite limited, and so whichever family is dominant in the diet will hog the enzymes, meaning there is little left for use by the other family. Because the omega-6 family is dominant in the typical western diet, it can influence the production of beneficial by-products produced by the omega-3 family. Also the omega-6 family forks at one point and can give rise to either inflammatory products or anti-inflammatory products. However, which pathway it follows is dependent on how much omega-3 is in the diet. When omega-6 dominates, then the body tends to produce inflammatory products and very little is produced by omega-3. However, increasing omega-3 actually shuttles the omega-6 pathway down the anti-inflammatory route and reduces the amount of inflammatory products produced by omega-6. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in our products is formulated to ensure that the body produces beneficial products from both families.
Q. Do your products contain vitamin A?
A. As vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, excess levels are stored within the body, which can result in highly toxic levels. For this reason, all vitamin A is removed from our oils during the purification process.
Q. Do your products contain vitamin D?
A. Vitamin D is made in the skin from exposure to sunlight and any excess is converted to harmless by-products. Excess vitamin D intake from supplements, however, can result in raised blood calcium levels – a condition known as hypercalcaemia. For this reason all vitamin D is removed from our oils during the purification process.
Q. Your products say they may thin the blood, what does this mean?
A. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the ‘stickiness’ of platelets (the cells that cause blood to clot), and this is known to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Having slightly ‘thinner’ blood increases circulation and also lowers blood pressure. Individuals taking pharmaceutical blood-thinning agents such as Warfarin or Heparin should consult their GP before taking a highly concentrated fish oil supplement.
Q. Can I buy your products in liquid form?
A. No, we encapsulate all our products. When unsaturated fatty acids in liquid form are exposed to the air, they react with oxygen and can go rancid. The capsule protects the oil from this process and consequently our products do not have to be refrigerated, and have a longer shelf life than liquid oil products.
Q. Can I take your products during pregnancy?
A. Whilst it is generally safe to take fish oils during pregnancy, it is advisable to consult your doctor first. A GP should be able to outline anything in your personal history that may give reason to avoid supplementation during pregnancy. For example, pre-eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy can result in pre-term bleeding, and this could be exacerbated by the blood-thinning effects of EPA. As regards to concerns about heavy metals, our products are highly purifed to remove contaminants. Glucosamine in Omegaflex DUO should not be taken by pregnant women.
Q. Can I take your products whilst I’m breastfeeding?
A. Yes, there will be multiple benefits to both you and your baby, and omega-3 EPA can even help reduce the risk of post-natal depression.
Q. Why is there soy in your products?
A. We include 1mg of soy-derived vitamin E in each capsule of Vegepa E-EPA 70, Vegepa Chewables and Omegaflex DUO and 5mg in E-EPA 90 to protect the oil from oxidation (and turning rancid). However, during the manufacturing process, all protein materials are removed and the final product is therefore non-allergenic.
Q. My child can’t swallow capsules, so can I mix the oil from the capsule with food?
A. We don’t generally recommend splitting our capsules since they are highly concentrated and have a strong fish flavour. We developed VegepaE-EPA 70 Orange Chewables for people who have problems swallowing capsules. These contain a paste inside, and have a pleasant orange taste. They are sugar-free and naturally flavoured.
Q. Vegepa E-EPA 70 Orange Chewables are flavoured with orange oil – are they suitable for children with ADHD?
A. Salicylates are chemicals that can trigger symptoms in conditions such as ADHD and are commonly found in citrus fruit such as oranges. Whilst we use natural orange oil to mask the taste of the fish oil, we have ensured the product is free from salicylates and is therefore safe for children with ADHD. Vegepa Chewables are also free from artificial colourings and flavourings.
Q. Can diabetics take your products?
A. Interestingly, people with diabetes have a reduced capacity to make long-chain fatty acids and are at a higher risk of cardiovascular and nerve problems. Supplementing with omega-3 fish oil is therefore extremely beneficial for people with diabetes, as a way of decreasing the risk of associated health problems long-term. We recommend our product Vegepa E-EPA 70 for diabetics, which contains omega-3, -6 fatty acids, for cardiovascular benefits, as well as for brain and eye health.
Q. What is the source of glucosamine in Omegaflex DUO?
A. The Regenasure®glucosamine in our products is vegetarian, derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger. A vegetarian source of Glucosamine Hydrochloride HCL, Regenasure® glucosamine is suitable for those with shellfish allergies, and is the best source for purity.
Q. Why use glucosamine hydrochloride and not glucosamine sulphate?
A. It’s suggested that glucosamine hydrochloride has approximately 85% working glucosamines compared to 65% in the sulphate versions, making it purer and more easily absorbed in the body.
Q. I’ve heard that calcium has been associated with increased heart attack risk. Is the calcium in Omegaflex DUO safe?
A. The heart health contraindications of calcium relate to those supplements derived from rock or limestone. Our calcium is derived from a natural food source – derived from seaweed, it is more bioavailable in the body and is readily utilised. Unfortunately, with rock-derived calcium, the body struggles to absorb this source of calcium which is therefore then free to travel around the circulation and become deposited in arterial plaque. It is this calcified arterial plaque clogging arteries that leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Q. I’m diabetic, will the glucosamine in Omegaflex DUO raise my glucose levels?
A. It is extremely unlikely and therefore safe to take Omegaflex DUO if you are diabetic. Much of the early evidence suggesting that glucosamine can impact negatively on glucose levels came from animal studies. No human studies have shown that glucosamine raises blood glucose levels.
Q. Can I take EPA with antidepressants?
A. Yes, there is increasing research that implies that taking a daily fish oil supplement may boost the effectiveness of antidepressants in some people. The addition of a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids (in particular EPA) to regular antidepressant treatment has been shown to significantly improve symptoms including anxiety, sadness, decreased sexual drive and suicidal tendencies.
Q. Can EPA help migraines?
A. There are very strong indications that EPA can help relieve migraines by reducing both their severity and recurrence. EPA is converted to anti-inflammatory products within the body, which act in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen.