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  • How valid is the 5X bioavailability claim made by the AvailOm® “Lysine Free Fatty Acid Salt” Omega-3 Supplement?

    June 12, 2024 6 min read

    How valid is the 5X bioavailability claim made by the AvailOm® “Lysine Free Fatty Acid Salt” Omega-3 Supplement? - Strom Sports Nutrition

    Glossary:

    FFA = Free Fatty Acid

    Lys-FFA = Lysine Free Fatty Acid Salt (aka. AvailOm®)

    EE = Ethyl ester

    BSDL = Bile salt dependent lipase aka. Bile salt stimulated lipase, aka. carboxyl ester lipase

    The 5X Bioavailability claim

    Cited in Evonik's own sales brochure  - "The bioavailability of AvailOm® has been confirmed to be more than five times higher than traditional liquid omega-3 softgels, even with a low fat diet or on an empty  stomach."
    Simple enough, lets dive into the research the 5X claim has been built off.

      Evonik, the producers of AvailOm®, engaged Wageningen University and Research to perform a small scale human bioavailability trial in June/July 2018.

      The participants included eight “Healthy adult (aged 18–28yrs) female volunteers with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5–25 kg/m2 were recruited from the area local to Wageningen University, The Netherlands.”

      In the morning under a fasted state, subjects took either the Lysine Free Fatty Acid salt (Lys-FFA, aka. AvailOm®) or an Ethyl ester (EE) form omega-3 product of similar equivalent EPA and DHA yield. The Lys-FFA preparation contained, per 1400mg dose: 499.8 mg EPA and 302.4 mg DHA. The EE preparation contained, per 1400mg dose: 504 mg EPA and 378 mg DHA

      Blood samples were taken at T = 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24, 32, 48 h after ingestion. These are plotted in 

       

      For EPA+DHA: the median ratio between Lys-FFA-AUC(0–12) and EE-AUC (0–12) is 5.04. (AUC = AREA UNDER THE CURVE)

      Research Trust:

      • Test procedure performed independently of Evonik by Wageningen University and Research,
      • Evonik was the source of financial funding;
      • Three of the seven contributing authors in the article are Evonik employees;
      • Published in a fairly significant Elsevier journal in operation since 2004: “Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids”
      • Outcomes published are consistent with 3rd party research in comparative conditions.

      So how valid is the 5X Bioavailability claim for AvailOm®?

      The claim for 5 times bioavailability of total EPA & DHA reaching TAG packaged circulation for younger, fasted, Dutch women of healthy BMI does appear valid, exclusively when compared to ethyl ester form fatty acids, and dependent on this singular investigation.

      But that’s not exactly how it’s generally marketed. Well not even close.

      For reference, see the AvailOm sales brochure here.

      There’s a cheeky methodology ploy at work…

      Comparative research for the slow release FFA preparation for prescription use (Epanova) demonstrated a similar bioavailability increase on the order of 4X for overweight and obese American population on a low fat diet (69% African American, 31% Caucasian; 54 adults, 41 male and 14 female). Why the difference? Aside from population setup, this study investigated the differences when considering either a low fat diet, or high fat diet around consumption time. In the high fat diet case, the comparative bioavailability was only on the order of 2X better, and note this isn’t due to a decrease in FFA bioavailability, but rather improved digestion of EE form due to a greater presence of bile salt dependent lipase (BSDL), which is required for hydrolysis in the gut before EE is transported to the liver for repackaging.

      To be candid, the conditions at which this high 5X bioavailability difference is shown have been selected for the specific case where ethyl ester will perform poorly, and is not a true representation of a proper use comparison of the two supplements.

      At the time of this research the pharmacokinetics of ethyl ester and relationship with BSDL has been clearly established for well over a decade. Ignorance would be a poorly justified claim for this methodology setup. If additional comparison was made with the other common forms, triglyceride or phospholipid, then the difference would also likely be more on the order of 2X bioavailability as found in the Epanova study.

      Does this mean we don’t like AvailOm®?

      Far from it, we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. 

      Instead we can evaluate where the best applications are for AvailOm®, and other Free Fatty Acid supplements, versus when ethyl ester, triglyceride, or phospholipid forms would be a more appropriate choice.

      A free fatty acid supplement such as AvailOm® has best advantage for:

      1. Persons on a low fat diet, or don't accompany their supplement intake with a fat source.
      2. Persons with reduced bile salt availability, which is common with liver issues or gall bladder removals.
      3. Persons with a highly inflamed gut which may compromise digestive enzymes and bile salt integrity.

      However for individuals with a healthy gut state, in-tact gall bladder, or moderate to high-fat diet, the effective cost and dosing tradeoff to raise omega-3 status may favour ethyl ester, triglyceride, or phospholipid forms better.

      Aside: to consider when purchasing any fish oil or omega-3 supplement is how well the manufacturing process and supply chain has been managed to ensure minimal oxidative damage (going “rancid”) which not only compromises the health benefits of an omega-3 supplement, but also has increased health risks in itself. In this case, AvailOm® has undergone stability studies, which claim to demonstrate high resistance to oxidative stress. The additional benefit of taking in a FFA supplement such as AvailOm® is lower dosing requirement, hence by simple volume reduction it also allows for less oxidized compound intake. To learn more about careful supplement selection and tested oxidative status of omega 3 supplements as well as many other, we highly recommend the reporting by www.consumerlab.com who operate on an independent basis and take measures to prevent bias.

      What advantages does AvailOm® have compared to other Free Fatty Acid supplements?

      By binding the free form fatty acids with the Lysine it provides two key functions.

      1. Superior resistance to oxidation without any other additives.  Free form fatty acids are in themselves very vulnerable to oxidative damage (going "rancid") which would then compromise their health benefits. By binding to Lysine AvailOm® has been able to solve this, with stability studies reporting AvailOm® to be highly resistant to oxidation for up to four years.
      2. Allows for a solid form supplement, rather than liquid.  From the consumer perspective this is reported to reduce symptoms of burping and fishy lingering that can be an issue for some with liquid forms. Only in the stomach's acidic environment does the lysine unbind from the fatty acids. For manufacturers, this allows for greater formulation flexibility in the capacity to prepare in hard capsules, or pressed tablets, rather than soft gels, as well as mixing with other powder form ingredients.

      Concluding statement

      While the AvailOm ® 5X bioavailability claim is in fact only applicable to a very specific use case, it does still have practical relevance to many users. The ingredient in itself does also have high utility due to a slower oxidative degradation over time compared to liquid fish oils, which is certainly a big win in the omega-3 space. For new product development the solid state does allow for more novel combination supplements with other powder form ingredients, previously unavailable with liquid omega-3 ingredients. The Leviathan Nutrition Advanced Omega 3 shown below is a prime example of this.

      Closing verdict - great ingredient, but lets not get out of hand with the big marketing claims yeah?
      Money where my mouth is: My family uses an Algae derived high DHA availOm® in capsules, and pay full price to do so.

      --- ----

      Interested in trying AvailOm® for yourself?

      AvailOm is available as part of the Leviathan Nutrition ADVANCED OMEGA 3 supplement stack, exclusively available for New Zealand and Australia through our own store. You can learn more about the product at the page linked below.

      stromsports.co.nz/products/advanced-omega-3-bioavailable-fish-oil

      Advanced Omega 3 // 5X Bioavailable Fish Oil - Essentials - Strom Sports Nutrition

      If you’re based in the USA or other international, you can learn more at leviathan-nutrition.com

      Reference material

      “In vitro dissolution behaviour and absorption in humans of a novel mixed L-lysine salt formulation of EPA and DHA” (2021)

      “A novel omega-3 free fatty acid formulation hasdramatically improved bioavailability duringa low-fat diet compared with omega-3-acid ethylesters: The ECLIPSE (EpanovaW compared to LovazaWin a pharmacokinetic single-dose evaluation) study” (2012)

      Evonik Sales Brochure for AvailOm®: "The highest load omega-3 powder in its class" (accessed June 2024)

      Found this helpful?

      This content is for educational purposes only and does not intend to cure or diagnose disease, nor make any health claims. There is no intent to slander Evonik or AvailOm in any way, but rather produce an informed and accurate third party perspective on the product. Always consult your accredited medical professional before introducing a new supplement. This content is not to be copied or repurposed in any form without express permission from the author. 

      For further information email thomas@stromsports.co.nz

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