An impressive number of new studies have been published in recent years documenting an array of health benefits associated with omega-3 consumption — specifically long-chain EPAs and DHAs.
An easy-to-read, one-stop shop of this research is available online at www.omega-research.com, compiled by Norwegian fish oil supplier Nordic Naturals. The company's Ultimate Omega concentrated fish oil ingredient, launched in 2000, is sold exclusively in its own product line in 35 countries worldwide.
When asked what it considered the most significant new research, CEO Joar Opheim pointed to three recent studies that have all illustrated that re-esterified triglyceride preparations of fish oils have improved EPA and DHA bioavailability.
“It is great to see science proving what we at Nordic Naturals have always believed," Opheim said. “Our understanding of the body's utilization of ingested omega-3s has always supported our commitment to re-esterified triglycerides as the best form for our concentrated fish oils."
The first of these three studies, published in September 2010, compared three concentrated fish oil preparations: ethyl esters, free fatty acids and re-esterified triglycerides – with placebo oil in a double-blinded design, and with fish body oil and cod liver oil in single-blinded arms.
Seventy-two volunteers were given approximately 3.3g of EPA and DHA daily for 2 weeks. Increases in absolute amounts of EPA and DHA in fasting serum triglycerides, cholesterol esters and phospholipids were examined. The bioavailability of EPA and DHA from re-esterified triglycerides was superior (124%) compared with natural fish oil (73%).
The second, published in November 2010, examined whether different chemical forms of EPA and DHA are absorbed in an identical way. Researchers examined the response of the omega-3 index, which is the ratio of EPA and DHA in red blood cell membranes. This is the measure that has been correlated to cardiovascular health.
The double-blinded placebo-controlled trial followed 150 volunteers who consumed capsules daily for six months. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups: fish oil concentrate with EPA (1.01g) and DHA (0.67g) given as re-esterified tricylglycerides (rTAG group); fish oil concentrate with EPA (1.01g) and DHA (0.67g) given as ethyl ester (EE group); or corn oil (placebo group).
The omega-3s index increased significantly in both groups treated with omega-3s; the increase was greater in the rTAG group than the EE group: at three months it was 186 percent versus 161 percent and at six months it was 197 percent versus 171 percent.
The third study, published in January 2011,examined the in-vitro bioaccessibility of omega-3s oils, enriched omega-3s as tricylglycerols (TAGs) or ethyl esters (EEs) after treatment with pancreatin (pancreatic lipase as major lipolytic enzyme) at pH 7.5. 
The study showed differences in in-vitro intestinal digestion. The TAG concentrates progressed slowly but continuously throughout the whole time of digestion, whereas the hydrolysis of fish oils stopped at initial times and was more incomplete. Most EEs remained undigested and scarce lipids were included in the micellar phase.
Like what you read? You can learn all there is to know about the omega-3s biz in a new monthly publication being launched by the New Hope Supply Network, called Ingredient Intelligence Monograph. Its debut issue, available later in March, will offer an in-depth business analysis of omega-3s. Future issues will explore other functional ingredients. For subscription information, contact Todd Runestad at [email protected].
 Neubronner J, Schuchardt JP, Kressel G, et al. Enhanced increase of omega-3 index in response to long-term n-3 fatty acid supplementation from triacylglycerides versus ethyl esters. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov 10.
 Martin D, Nieto-Fuentes J, Señoráns F, et al. Intestinal digestion of fish oils and ω-3 concentrates under in vitro conditions. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 2011 11 (12), 1315–1322.