Prenatal DHA

Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is now available at Amazon…

What is Diet Standards Prenatal DHA?

DHA supports brain development in babies.

Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is an Omega-3 supplement that contains DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) in proportions specifically formulated for you and your baby.

What are what EPA and DHA?

EPA and DHA are Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. In short, these are the “healthy fats” you hear about so much in fish and fish oil. Most people don’t get enough of these, as we explain below.

Is this a Prenatal Multi-Vitamin?

No. You should take Diet Standards Prenatal DHA along with a Prenatal Multivitamin.

This is NOT a substitute for a prenatal multivitamin.

Think of it this way:

  • Not Pregnant = “Multivitamin + Fish Oil”
  • Pregnant = “Prenatal + DHA”

When you see “Prenatal” they are generally talking about a “Prenatal Multivitamin”.

When you see “Prenatal DHA” they are generally talking about an Omega-3 supplement.

You need to take both for optimal health and fetal development.

Prenatal Multivitamins (often shortened to “Prenatal”) are basically the same as a non-pregnancy multivitamin, but with very minor formulation changes such as increased folic acid, iron, and calcium. A prenatal multivitamin covers your micronutrient needs such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Magnesium, Biotin, Copper, Zinc, etc… Prenatal Multivitamins usually do NOT contain any Omega-3 fatty acids.

Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is NOT a multivitamin. It is an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement similar to a non-pregnancy fish oil, except with very minor formulation changes such as an increased DHA to EPA ratio. It does not contain any other vitamins, so you should take it in addition to your normal prenatal multivitamin.

Why is Diet Standards Prenatal DHA better?

The majority of Omega-3 products are derived from fish.

Fish Oil has major problems:
– High heavy metal content (Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic) in many fish species
– Fish populations are dwindling and commercial fishing is unsustainable
– Softgels are typically made with animal-derived gelatin

Not to mention…fish burps are gross!

Our products are derived from Algae Oil instead. They contain the same Omega-3 EPA and DHA, but without all the downsides of traditional fish oil.

We have a mission here at Diet Standards. Our goal is to become the #1 producer of Omega-3 products in the world. This way we can drive out inferior fish-derived products with clean algae oil.

Are there any animal products in Diet Standards Prenatal DHA?

No. Diet Standards does not use any animal products in our Prenatal DHA.

The DHA/EPA is derived from algae oil. The softgels are made with Carrageenan, a polysaccharide extracted from red edible seaweed.

Most competing products are made from dead fish (fish oil) and the extracted remains of slaughterhouse animals (gelatin).

Are there any allergens (gluten, dairy, nuts, etc…) in Prenatal DHA?

Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is free of Gluten, Milk, and many other common allergens. If you have an allergy, please read through the allergen documents (posted on this page) carefully before taking this product.

Why is Algae Oil better than Fish Oil?

In one word: Clean.

We could blather on and on about how horrible commercial fishing is and how disgusting gelatin products are, but truth be told there is only one reason you should take algae oil over fish oil:

(Source: Wikipedia “Mercury in Fish“)

Where is algae oil in the above picture? Nowhere.

Our Algae Oil is grown in a clean environment separated from pollution and runoff. Algae is the primary producer and does not collect heavy metals and toxins the way predators like fish do.

That’s why 3rd party lab tests consistently show Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is the cleanest Prenatal DHA money can buy.

How does Diet Standard’s Prenatal DHA compare to other over-the-counter DHA products?

Diet Standards Prenatal DHA derives it’s DHA/EPA directly from the source, algae. Most Prenatal DHAs on the market get their DHA/EPA from fish. Fish have a higher level of mercury and heavy metals.

Mercury has been shown to have negative effects on the human body, not to mention a unborn baby which is especially sensitive to toxins.

I missed a dose, should I take twice as much next time?

No.

Prenatal DHA is not harmful at double or more of the normal dosage. But we don’t recommend playing “catch up”.

If you miss a dose, forget about it and continue normal dosing the next day.

How much DHA should I be taking?

We recommend you consume 3 softgels daily, for a total of 450mg DHA and 225mg EPA.

The American Pregnancy Association recommends that women consume at least 300mg of DHA daily during pregnancy and lactation. Some studies show the average female intake in North America is only 39-59mg of DHA daily.

Do I need to take Diet Standard’s Prenatal DHA on an empty stomach or with food?

DHA and EPA is better absorbed in the body when taken with a meal. Plus taking any pills (even small softgels) without food can cause stomach pain for some people.

While we recommend taking Prenatal DHA with a meal, you can also take it without food.

You can either spread the dosage out several times per day or take it all at once. Your choice.

Can I take this product if I’m not pregnant.

Absolutely.

We have 20 year old men who lift weights taking this stuff. We also have 70 year old grandmothers taking it. Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is safe for anyone.

If you take a fish oil product, then Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is perfect for you. Don’t let the “Prenatal” label turn you off.

Don’t believe us? Just look at the label contents of DHA and EPA and compare that to your existing fish oil.

Should I take Prenatal DHA while breast feeding?

Yes!

In fact, your baby needs DHA just as much (if not more) during breastfeeding as during pregnancy.

We highly recommend taking the same dosage during lactation. Do NOT stop taking the product when you give birth.

Is too much DHA harmful?

It is very hard to take too much DHA. It’s been shown that women that take upwards of 1200 mg and more of DHA a day still have no negative effects during pregnancy.

The Food and Drug Administration have determined that up to 3,000 mg of DHA/EPA per day from all sources (diet + supplements) is generally considered safe for most adults.

That said, arbitrarily taking mega-doses of Omega-3 is not necessarily better. In fact, way too much Omega-3 can have just as many side effects as too little. Remember the “Goldilocks Principle” when taking supplements. You want the dosage to be “Just Right”. Not too much and not too little.

Of course, always talk to your doctor about all supplements you take. This goes double if you have specific health problems.

Where can I buy Diet Standard’s Prenatal DHA?

Our only authorized retailer of Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is “Origin Products” on Amazon. You can buy the product here.

The dietary supplement industry is flooded with counterfeiters and fake products. We strongly recommend you NOT buy products from eBay, other sellers on Amazon, or your local back alley drug dealer. Saving a few dollars is not worth the risk to you and your baby.

DHA Formulation Ideas and Discussion

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid 22:6-n3) – 300mg per day
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid 20:5-n3) – 150mg per day
ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid 18:3-n3) – 500mg (or more) per day

Pregnant & Nursing Mothers
Healthy Ideas:

  • Work with your doctor first. Go to all required doctor visits during your pregnancy. Follow your doctor’s recommendations first.
  • Supplement with 300mg DHA, 150mg EPA, and 500mg (or more) ALA per day
  • Eat 2 servings of low-mercury fish each week. (Salmon, Oyster, Tilapia, Hake, Sardine, Anchovies, Pollock, Herring, Catfish)
  • Follow the National Institutes of Health general recommendations for nutrition during pregnancy
  • Eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. Fruits, Vegetables, Lean Meats, Fats, etc. Aim for moderation and variety.
  • Do not avoid any specific food groups unless you have a diagnosed medical condition precluding you from eating them.
  • Eat enough calories. Use a calorie calculator to calculate your caloric expenditure. Then add enough extra calories to cover your baby’s development.
  • Eat 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass. (1 gram per pound of bodyweight).
    Helms et al determined “…most but not all bodybuilders will respond best to consuming 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass per day of protein, 15-30% of calories from fat, and the reminder of calories from carbohydrate.” (1) Most people are not body builders, however in this case we are focusing on synthesizing lean body mass which would likely carry over to prenatal nutrition as well. Usually under higher calorie conditions you can lower protein intake from this level, however pregnant woman are slowly building another human body, so higher protein applies. We also recommend getting 30% of your calories from fat during pregnancy, since you will likely have higher fat needs and lower carbohydrate needs.
  • Avoid foods and drugs that should not be eaten/taken during pregnancy. These include, but are not limited to: Green Tea, Cigarettes, Excess Caffeine, Alcohol, etc…

Men and Women who are Not Pregnant or Nursing
Healthy Ideas:

  • Supplement with 300mg DHA, 150mg EPA, and 500mg (or more) ALA per day
  • Follow most of the “Healthy Pregnancy Recommendations” above. Omit the parts about doctor visits, calories for your baby’s development, and avoiding green tea. But follow everything else.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) are essential for human life. We will be looking specifically at Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFAs. These compounds are used in all parts of the bodies of mammals.

In one study, Lin and Salem supplemented fat-free fed rats with Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, then sacrificed the rats at various times(2). The rats were dissected and each part of their body was analyzed separately for PUFA content. From this study it can be seen that the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids were generally present in all parts of the mammalian body. Some specific fatty acids like Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) accrued in greater quantities in the brain, central nervous system, and retina.

The key aspect here is balance. PUFAs are not a “holy grail” for perfect health. Once we correct any deficiencies, adding more PUFAs will not necessarily result in increased health. They will simply get used for energy or stored as body fat. However, most people eating Western Diets are deficient in certain PUFAs, including EPA, DHA, and ALA. (3)

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Chart
Image from Wikipedia: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids start as a “parent fatty acid” which is either Linoleic Acid (LA 18:2-n6) for Omega-6 fatty acids or Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA 18:3-n3) for Omega-3 fatty acids. These parent fatty acids can be converted by the body into other fatty acids further down the chain.

However, this conversion process is inefficient and the body is often not able to meet it’s intake needs of these fatty acids further down the chain. (4). Estimates range from <5% to 21% of ALA converting to EPA and <1% to 9% of ALA converting to DHA.(5)

Even more importantly, these conversions often share resources. If the body has to convert one fatty acid into another it may have less resources to convert other fatty acids.

Desaturation and Elongation of Essential Fatty Acids
Image from Linus Pauling Institute: Essential Fatty Acids

As an analogy, imagine a car factory. The input being steel (Alpha Linolenic Acid ALA 18:3-n3). This steel is then assembled into a simple car chassis (Stearidonic Acid SDA 18:4-n3), then wheels are added to make a rolling chassis (Eicosatetraenoic acid ETA 20:4-n3). These steps are repeated until finally you have a drivable working car (Docosahexaenoic acid DHA 22:6-n3).

The factory may not have enough resources to complete many cars in a single day. You may need 300 cars (300mg of DHA) but the factory is only producing 10 cars (10mg DHA). Or the Omega-6 factory next door may be using all the resources to produce city busses (Arachidonic Acid AA 20:4-n6) and you can only produce 5 cars (5mg DHA).

This analogy is an oversimplification but the end result is the same. The body only has so many resources to convert polyunsaturated fatty acids from one form to another.

Fortunately for us, we can get “preformed” fatty acids in our diet. Fish, as one example, are high in preformed EPA and DHA, while being relatively low in ALA and other fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is high in ALA but not a commonly used cooking oil.

Going back to our analogy, rather than trying to force the body to produce 300 cars from raw materials, we can simply give it 300 cars.

Let’s take a look at the specific PUFA’s that are both needed during pregnancy and also deficient in a Western Diet.

Not pregnant? Keep reading. Chances are you are also deficient, and if you care about your nervous system (brain) and cardiovascular (heart) health this information also applies to you.

The 3 Ingredients: DHA, EPA, ALA

DHA

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Chart with Docosahexaenoic Acid Highlighted
Image from Wikipedia: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. DHA has been highlighted red.

In a rat study by Lin and Salem(2), DHA accrued preferentially in the brain and central nervous system over time. The charts below show this effect:

DHA Accumulation 1
Image from: Whole body distribution of deuterated linoleic and a-linolenic acids and their metabolites in the rat. Red highlights are mine.
DHA Accumulation 2
Image from: Whole body distribution of deuterated linoleic and a-linolenic acids and their metabolites in the rat. Red highlights are mine.

One study showed of women in an Icelandic fishing community showed that “Infant size at birth increased with fish consumption, especially for women in the lower quartiles of consumption.”(6) Increased size and weight at birth is a positive marker of infant health. Keep in mind that the key here is balance. The same study noted “Infants of women in the highest quartile of fish oil intake (≥1 tablespoon (11 ml)/day), consuming threefold the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A and twofold that of vitamin D, were shorter (p = 0.036) and had a smaller head circumference (p = 0.003) than those of women consuming less…smaller birth size was linked to the highest levels of fish oil intake. Constituents of fish and fish oil might affect birth size differently depending on the amount consumed.”

Keep in mind that the women in this Icelandic fishing community ate 47g of fish per day(6). In the United States, fish intake is only about 20g per day.(7)

In one randomized controlled trial by Olsen et al, healthy Danish women were either given a fish oil supplement (fish group) or an olive oil supplement (control group). Pregnancies in the fish group were 4.0 days longer and resulted in a birthweight that was 107g higher.(8)

Bottom Line: Unless you eat a lot of fish already, your dietary intake of DHA is likely sub-optimal. If you are pregnant it is absolutely critical to correct this immediately.

If we analyze the PUFA content of fish we see that the majority of the fatty acids are from EPA and DHA.

Alaska Pollock contains 0.22% by weight EPA & DHA, and 0.29% total Omega-3s (fully 76% of omega-3 fatty acids as EPA & DHA). Wild salmon contains 83% of Omega-3s as EPA & DHA. Farmed Salmon contains 63% of Omega-3s as EPA & DHA.(9)

In addition to birthweight and size, DHA also shows evidence towards greater cognitive development and visual acuity. The US Department of Agriculture studied the subject and concluded “in particular DHA from at least two servings of seafood per week during pregnancy and lactation is associated with increased DHA levels in breast milk and improved infant health outcomes, such as visual acuity and cognitive development. Two servings per week is the equivalent of approximately 8 ounces per week, which should provide an average 250 milligrams per day of DHA and EPA.”(10)

The major problem is that a Western Diet with very low fish intake fish intake is extremely low in DHA.(11)

The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant and lactating women get “300mg of DHA daily”.(12) Dr. James Greenberg recommends “the dietary goal for omega-3 fatty acids is 650 mg, of which 300 is DHA” while keeping mercury intake very low.(13) These recommendations are both in line with research data.

DHA Daily Supplementation Level: 300mg per day

EPA

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Chart with Eicosapentaenoic Acid Acid Highlighted
Image from Wikipedia: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. EPA has been highlighted red.

EPA does not accrue to appreciable levels in the brain and central nervous system(2), so it tends to be ignored in prenatal health. Most infant formula and prenatal supplements on the market today attempt to minimize EPA intake as much as possible, often trying to completely eliminate EPA from the formulation.

These same groups will also stand by the recommendation that pregnant women also eat 2 servings of low-mercury fish per week. The reason is that we frequently find a correlation between increasing fish intake and better birth outcomes in Western Diets.(15)

The irony here is that fish contain both EPA and DHA in high concentrations. Compared to DHA, Salmon contains 52% as much EPA, Alaskan Pollock contains 63% as much EPA, Herring contains 76% as much EPA.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Content of Various Fish
Image from: Survey of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish and fish products. Red highlights are mine. Note the arrows which show total Omega-3 Fatty Acids compared to total EPA+DHA. You can see that the majority (75%-95%) of Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are either EPA or DHA.(9)

There is data that EPA is required in the human body in some degree or another. In one study, omnivores and vegetarians supplemented with only DHA showed a retroconversion of DHA to EPA of 9.4%(16). This indicates that the body needed some level of EPA for normal functioning and was forced to retroconvert that EPA from DHA. Since we know that PUFA conversion pathways compete for resources, this retroconversion could possibly inhibit the ability of the body to convert other fatty acids. In this study, Arachidonic Acid (AA 20:4-n6), Docosapentaenoic Acid (22:5-n6), and Docosapentaenoic Acid (DPA 22:5-n3) all decreased, possibly indicating the body did not have enough resources to convert all these compounds due to the DHA to EPA conversion load.

We do not know if a 9.4% conversion ratio provided optimal levels of EPA in the body. Given the fish ratios of 52-76% EPA it likely did not. It is likely that pregnant women supplemented with only DHA will be deficient in EPA.

Dr James Greenberg sums up the importance of EPA balance in his research report titled “Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy”:

“EPA, but not DHA, has been positively correlated with mRNA expression of all membrane proteins. Thus, higher maternal EPA concentrations may increase FATP expression (FATP-4 in particular) that, in turn, has been shown to increase cord blood DHA levels…Because only about 4% to 11% of DHA is retroconverted to EPA, pregnant women who just take DHA supplements, without any dietary EPA, may be unable to produce the right balance of eicosanoids and may limit the transport and uptake of DHA into fetal cells.”(13)

We can speculate that a fetus in the womb will require different levels of nutrients than a young infant. That said, we can still look at the DHA and EPA ratios in human breastmilk to get an idea of the approximate values of EPA and DHA transmitted to infants, and thus possibly also required by a developing fetus. Compared to DHA, breastmilk contains on average 66% as much EPA, with the level dropping as low as 44% EPA and going as high as 100% EPA depending on regional diet.(17)

Clearly there is a need for EPA in the human body. If preformed EPA can be provided in a balanced ratio of DHA:EPA, then we can free up conversion pathways for the body to successfully convert other PUFAs.

EPA Daily Supplementation Level: 150mg per day

ALA

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Chart with Alpha Linolenic Acid Highlighted
Image from Wikipedia: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. ALA has been highlighted red.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA 18:3-n3) is the parent Omega-3 fatty acid. Research indicates that human beings evolved on a diet of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in a ratio of close to 1:1. Western Diets now contain a ratio closer to 15:1 to 16.7:1 Omega-3 to Omega-6 (25). This imbalance is thought to cause excessive inflammation, which is frequently studied as a cause of numerous “diseases of civilization” including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, even some cancers.

Although researchers argue about the ideal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, the general consensus is to get more fatty acids from Omega-3 sources and less from Omega-6 sources.

ALA becomes a significant factor in not only keeping the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in check, but also providing a stable source of parent Omega-3 fatty acids for conversion to other Omega-3 fatty acids and as a source of ALA for fetal development.

To see the ratio of ALA compared to DHA, EPA, and AA, we can analyze the levels naturally found in human milk.

Average Values of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Mother’s Milk(17)
(Using 14 European Studies)
Omega-3
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA 18:3-n3): 0.9% wt/wt (Range: 0.7%-1.3%)
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA 20:5-n3): 0.2% wt/wt (Range: 0.0%-0.6%)
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA 22:6-n3): 0.3% wt/wt (Range: 0.1%-0.6%)

Omega-6
Linoleic acid (LA 18:2-n6): 11.0% wt/wt (Range: 6.9%-16.4%)
Arachidonic acid (AA 20:4-n6): 0.5% wt/wt (Range: 0.2%-1.2%)

These ratios would point to a required amount three times larger than that of DHA. In our case this would be at least 900mg ALA. Since the Western Diet is unusually low in Omega-3 fatty acids, we can err on the high side for ALA intake without worrying about going over a “maximum safe” level.

This sentiment is echoed in the scientific community. The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids (ISSFA) and Lipids stated that “most studies showed benefit from an increasing intake of ALA” and recommends a dietary intake of ALA at 0.7% of energy. For a 2,000 calorie diet this would yield 1,550mg ALA (26). Various international recommendations range from 1,350mg per day to 2,200mg per day. Given these numbers, our goal would be to exceed 1,800mg per day of ALA intake during pregnancy.

Common dietary sources high in ALA include: flaxseed (or flaxseed oil), canola oil, soybeans (or soybean oil), tofu, and walnuts (or walnut oil). The chart below shows that most oils are relatively low in ALA (ALA represented by the yellow bars).

Oil Content of Various Products
Image from: cspinet.org. Chart data from: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the Flax Council of Canada, and the National Sunflower Association.

Despite being a good source of the Omega-3s DHA and EPA, fish are not a good source of ALA. Salmon contains only 5.9% of it’s Omega-3s as ALA and Alaska Pollock contains only 1.8% of it’s Omega-3s as ALA.(9) Given the limitation of 2 servings of oily fish per week for pregnant women (due to mercury intake), fish would not be an effective dietary source of ALA.

7,036 females in the United States were studied for ALA intake from 2003 to 2008. The average ALA intake was 1,300mg per day, with 36% of women getting less than this amount.(27) Using 1,300mg per day as an average dietary intake and our goal as 1,800mg (or more) of total ALA intake, we should supplement with at least 500mg ALA. More than this amount would likely not be harmful, and may even provide additional health benefits.

ALA Daily Supplementation Level: 500mg (or more) per day

NOTE: Flaxseed Oil has been dropped from our formulation. Flaxseed Oil is a terrific source of alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), which is great for overall health but not necessary for a healthy pregnancy. There are enough high-volume manufacturers of Flaxseed Oil (softgels and liquid oil) that it’s cheaper for our customers to buy a separate flaxseed oil than have us add it to our existing formulation. We recommend 2 grams of Flaxseed Oil daily as part of a healthy supplementation regimen. Several food products are also high in ALA, including Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, and Whole or Ground Flaxseeds.

Fish Oil vs Algae

There are two different sources for DHA and EPA supplementation: Fish and Algae.

Algae Food Chain
Image from: Mary Beth Smith Lecture on Ecology and Population Growth. This image shows a simplified ocean food chain.

The marine food chain actually starts at algae. Algae are the “primary producer” which are then consumed by other organisms. Finally, much higher up the food chain are large fish, krill, squid, and apex predators.

By the time you get up the chain to fish, these animals have accrued DHA and EPA stores in their fat due to having directly or indirectly eaten algae.

Most people immediately think of fish oil when they consider a DHA supplement. But there are a number of problems with fish oil supplements:

  • Spoilage – Fish oil can spoil or go “rancid”. This happens even faster when the oil is heated and cooled during transport and storage. Various antioxidants are usually added to counteract this, but rancid fish oil is still much more common than you might think.
  • Contaminants – Fish can collect heavy metals such as Mercury and Lead as well as pollutants such as PCBs and Dioxins in their fatty tissue. Algae can be grown in a clean environment free of these pollutants.
  • Overfishing – Global peak fishing occurred in 1996 and some experts are saying current fishing levels are unsustainable.(28) The United Nations reported that fully 2/3 of the world’s fish are either depleted or fully exploited.(29) Algae are farmed in simple systems on land and actually absorb CO2 and produce oxygen as a byproduct of their production. No fish need to be harvested to produce algae oil, and carbon impact of algae cultivation can actually be negative!
  • Environmental Impact – One 120 calorie serving of fish actually requires 207 calories of diesel fuel to catch it.(28) Not to mention the impact on human time, capital, and resources needed to capture the fish and transport it to a processing facility. In contrast, algae is grown in a simple water system that takes significantly fewer resources to cultivate. An algae farm powered by renewable energy would be 100% sustainable and require zero fossil fuels.
  • Vegetarians/Vegans – Algae oils are plant-based supplements that can be consumed by people who cannot eat animals.
  • Taste & Smell – Many fish oils have a “fishy” taste and cause the dreaded “fish burps”. Algae oils do not have these problems. Because of the taste and smell issues, almost all baby formulas supplemented with DHA use algae oil instead of fish oil.

Algae-based sources of DHA and EPA are far superior to fish oil and krill oil.

The problem is the marketplace has not caught up to the technology and many supplement manufacturers still use fish oil. Fish oil is easier to source and can be cheaper to purchase. But that does not make it better.

When looking for a DHA Supplement, try to find one sourced from Algae.

Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is now available at Amazon…

 

Sources

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  2. Lin, Y. H., & Salem, N., Jr. (2007). Whole body distribution of deuterated linoleic and a-linolenic acids and their metabolites in the rat. Retrieved 2016, from http://www.jlr.org/content/48/12/2709.full.pdf

  3. Simopoulos, A. P. (2000, April 03). Human Requirement for N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://ps.oxfordjournals.org/content/79/7/961.long

  4. Burdge, G. C., & Wootton, S. A. (2002, June 19). Conversion of a-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=/BJN/BJN88_04/S0007114502001952a.pdf&code=8f362c5fd11d10307fc0936b8a4b398c

  5. Davis, B. C., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2003, September). Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: Current knowledge and practical implications. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/640S.long

  6. Thorsdottir, I., Birgisdottir, B. E., Halldorsdottir, S., & Geirsson, R. T. (2004). Association of Fish and Fish Liver Oil Intake in Pregnancy with Infant Size at Birth among Women of Normal Weight before Pregnancy in a Fishing Community. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/160/5/460.full

  7. Daniel, C. R., Cross, A. J., Koebnick, C., & Sinha, R. (2011, April). Trends in meat consumption in the United States. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3045642/

  8. Olsen, S. F., Sorensen, J. D., Secher, N. J., Hedeaard, M., Henriksen, T. B., Hansen, H. S., & Grant, A. (1992, April 25). Randomised controlled trial of effect of fish-oil supplementation on pregnancy duration. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1349049

  9. Strobel, C., Jahreis, G., & Kuhnt, K. (2012, October 30). Survey of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish and fish products. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3543232/

  10. Maternal Intake of Seafood Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Infant Health: A Review of the Evidence. (2012, February). Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/nutrition_insights_uploads/Insight46.pdf

  11. Rosell, M. S., Lloyd-Wright, Z., Appleby, P. N., Sanders, T. A., Allen, N. E., & Key, T. J. (2005, August). Long-chain n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in plasma in British meat-eating, vegetarian, and vegan men. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/2/327.long

  12. Omega-3 Fish Oil and Pregnancy: Benefits & Proper Dosage. (2015, July). Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/omega-3-fish-oil/

  13. Greenberg, J. A., MD, Bell, S. J., DSc, RD, & Ausdal, W. V. (2008). Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621042/

  14. Higdon, J., PhD, Drake, V. J., PhD, Angelo, G., PhD, & Jump, D. B., PhD. (2014, May). Essential Fatty Acids. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/essential-fatty-acids

  15. Elias, S. L., & Innis, S. M. (2001, April). Infant plasma trans, n−6, and n−3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids are related to maternal plasma fatty acids, length of gestation, and birth weight and length. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/4/807.long

  16. Conquer, J. A., & Holub, B. J. (1997, March). Dietary docosahexaenoic acid as a source of eicosapentaenoic acid in vegetarians and omnivores. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9076673

  17. Lipids in early development. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.fao.org/docrep/v4700e/v4700e0c.htm

  18. Van Goor, S. A., Dijck-Brouwer, D. A., Doornbos, B., Erwich, J. J., Schaafsma, A., Muskiet, F. A., & Hadders-Algra, M. (2010, January). Supplementation of DHA but not DHA with arachidonic acid during pregnancy and lactation influences general movement quality in 12-week-old term infants. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19703327

  19. Calder, P. C. (2007). Dietary arachidonic acid: Harmful, harmless or helpful? Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=/BJN/BJN98_03/S0007114507761779a.pdf&code=fd9cd7bfc91882903395fd739ff44a29

  20. Simopoulos, A. P. (2002, October). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909

  21. Rett, B. S., & Whelan, J. (2011, June 10). Increasing dietary linoleic acid does not increase tissue arachidonic acid content in adults consuming Western-type diets: A systematic review. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-8-36

  22. Brenna, J. T., Varamini, B., Jensen, R. G., Diersen-Schade, D. A., Boettcher, J. A., & Arterburn, L. M. (2007, June). Docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid concentrations in human breast milk worldwide. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/6/1457.long

  23. Mann, N. J., Johnson, L. G., Warrick, G. E., & Sinclair, A. J. (1995, October). The arachidonic acid content of the Australian diet is lower than previously estimated. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7562087

  24. Diau, G., Hsieh, A. T., Sarkadi-Nagy, E. A., Wijendran, V., Natanielsz, P. W., & Brenna, J. T. (2005, June 23). The influence of long chain polyunsaturate supplementation on docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid in baboon neonate central nervous system. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-3-11

  25. Simopoulos, A. P. (2006, August 28). Evolutionary aspects of diet, the omega-6/omega-3 ratio and genetic variation: Nutritional implications for chronic diseases. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.nutrasource.ca/files/omega_3_chronic_nov2006.pdf

  26. Recommendations for Intake of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Healthy Adults. (2004, June). Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.issfal.org/news-links/resources/publications/PUFAIntakeReccomdFinalReport.pdf

  27. Papanikolaou, Y., Brooks, J., Reider, C., & Fulgoni, V. L. (2014, April 02). U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: Results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003–2008. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992162/

  28. Martin, W. (2015, April 05). Peak Fish and Sustainable Food’s Last Mile Problem. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://willmartin.com/peak-fish-and-sustainable-foods-last-mile-problem/

  29. Andrews, R. (n.d.). All About Algae Supplements. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-algae

Changes & Updates

Arachidonic Acid (AA 20:4-n6) was mentioned in a previous version of this article as a potential supplement for pregnant women. We strongly recommend against the use of arachidonic acid supplementation during pregnancy.

The western diet is high in Omega-6 fatty acids, including arachidonic acid. While arachidonic acid intake may be low in certain populations (vegetarians and vegans for example), arachidonic acid is released in high amounts during partuition (birth). High intakes of arachidonic acid could potentially cause pre-term birth.

If you are in a group with low meat intake we recommend discussing with your doctor testing arachidonic acid levels and carefully assessing safe intake options. Also, carefully consider the option of including some animal products in your diet during your pregnancy.

Arachidonic acid is present in breast milk and most infant formula, and is a necessary fatty acid to include after your baby is born.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

BCAA

Branched Chain Amino Acids

In this short video we cover:

  • What Branch Chain Amino Acids Are
  • When you need BCAA Supplements
  • When you do NOT need BCAA Supplements
  • How to pick the Best Amino Acid Supplement

Comparison Chart: Amino Acid Content of Various Foods

Amino Acid Content* Essential Amino Acids
** Branched Chain Amino Acids

The Complete Guide to Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs are essential for the human body so it is imperative that you incorporate the proper amount of food and supplements that contain them into your daily routine; this correct intake keeps them at the appropriate levels that your body needs. it is also important to understand that every person needs nine essential amino acids in order to stay healthy. This, and so much more is important to keep in mind when using amino acids, and this Complete Guide to Branched Chain Amino Acids is provided to help you on your journey to wellness and inform you regarding their use.

The heading of BCAAs incorporates three of these amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are of specific concern to people who are interested in nutrition and physical fitness because they are responsible for 35 percent of the amino acids that are found in muscle protein. In other words, a large portion of the energy that is needed to fuel you through your next workout will come from BCAAs.

What Ratio of BCAAs is Needed?

Although each person’s body can have slightly different needs, there is a basic guideline that can help you make sure that you get at least the minimum recommended amount of each BCAA.

  • Leucine – 39 mg is needed for every kg of body weight. For example, someone who weighs 180 pounds will need approximately 3,182 mg of leucine daily.
  • Isoleucine – 20 mg is needed for every kg of body weight. Therefore, someone who weighs 180 pounds will need approximately 1,632 mg of isoleucine daily.
  • Valine – 26 mg is needed for every kg of body weight. If you weigh 180 pounds, you will need approximately 2,122 mg of valine daily.

Calculating these factors can be cumbersome, especially if you are not certain how to convert kg to pounds. Additionally, there are some variances based on gender and age. Fortunately, it is easy to use an online essential amino acid calculator to find out exactly what your minimum needs are.

What Ratio is Needed for Muscle Gain?

Meeting the minimum requirements for daily BCAAs intake allows your body to remain healthy, but bodybuilders who want to increase their muscle mass can benefit from increasing their consumption of BCAAs.

There are many different recommendations for how to supplement the natural BCAAs that you receive from eating a balanced diet, so it is important to carefully consider what your actual goals are. For example, if you are currently dieting and trying to bulk up at the same time, you should consider taking a BCAAs supplement of at least two grams per serving.

Some people take up to 20 grams at a time, but a more desirable amount for proper results ranges from two to 10 grams. However, this is not something that you can simply do once a day. Instead, you need to take a BCAAs supplement approximately seven times every day to receive the optimal results.

This can be accomplished by taking a supplement when you wake up, between each meal, before you begin working out, once during your workout, at the end of your workout and before you go to bed.

What are the Best Natural Resources for BCAAs?

Supplements can be a great option for boosting your BCAAs intake, but it is also important to pay attention to the role that food plays in keeping your essential amino acids at the correct levels. The good news is that BCAAs are present in every food that contains protein, so a balanced diet will enable you to meet the minimum requirements.

The best food sources for BCAAs are dairy products and red meat, but you can also derive these vital components from eggs, fish, chicken and anything else that contains protein. It is important to remember that the idea of complete proteins being found only in meat is a myth, so vegetarians and vegans can meet their minimum BCAAs needs by eating fruits, vegetables, grains, soy and beans.

How Many BCAAs Are in Each Food Source?

Eating anything with protein in it will help you achieve the necessary level of BCAAs, but certain protein-rich foods provide more bang for your buck. If we assume that an average serving size is six ounces, we can compare a few food items that are a popular source of BCAAs to determine which ones are the best for people who want to boost their intake of these essential amino acids.

Roasted peanuts will give you 6.8 grams of BCAAs for every six ounces, but the same portion size of turkey breast only provides 5.2 grams. Again, this serves as an important reminder that meat is not the only way to achieve the proper balance of protein and amino acids. However, chicken breast clocks in with 6.6 grams of BCAAs, and it also has triple the protein of roasted peanuts.

In other words, athletes and other individuals who want to increase their protein and BCAAs intake will get more out of a serving of chicken breast, but honey roasted peanuts still make a great snack. If you prefer fish, you can get 5.9 grams of BCAAs and 34 grams of protein from six ounces of wild salmon or tilapia.

Should I Use a Protein or BCAAs Supplement?

You can easily find a supplement for all three BCAAs or each individual component if you want or need to increase the level of these essential amino acids in your body, but BCAAs are also naturally occurring in most protein supplements.

For example, if you are using a basic protein powder, you should be able to get enough of a boost to meet the recommended amount for bodybuilders. However, this might require you to use the protein powder several times per day, so it could actually be more effective to take supplements exclusively for BCAAs instead.

If you choose to increase your BCAAs with protein powder or another protein supplement, you should carefully review the list of amino acids that are included to make sure you are getting all three BCAAs. A basic guideline for sedentary adults versus bodybuilders is increasing your intake of BCAAs from 0.8 grams to 1.7 grams for every kilogram of your body weight.

Can BCAAs be Toxic?

Some people are concerned about the potential for overdosing on BCAAs by taking supplements in addition to eating food that is high in protein. Due to this, there have been multiple studies conducted to test the potential toxicity of adding additional BCAAs into the daily routine of lab mice.

In 2004, a thirteen week study was performed that included increasing levels of BCAAs by up to 5 percent in the test subjects. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that there were no significant side effects or toxicity issues that were caused by increasing consumption of BCAAs.

According to WebMD’s compilation of research into the side effects of BCAAs, there are no serious risks for people who utilize BCAAs supplements for up to six months at a time. However, some people might experience loss of coordination, fatigue and nausea, especially if they take a large dosage on a regular basis.

This means that increasing your intake of BCAAs on a short-term basis to help you reach your bodybuilding goals should be beneficial with minimal to no issues. There are a few exceptions to these findings, including the fact that BCAAs can alter glucose levels in individuals who are preparing for or recovering from a surgery.

People with branched-chain ketoacidura or chronic alcoholism should also be caution about boosting their levels of BCAAs. Additionally, anyone who is breastfeeding, pregnant, a diabetic or suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease should not take BCAAs supplements unless they are recommended by a physician.

Are there Health Reasons to Increase BCAAs?

Although it is typically possible for people to get the necessary amount of BCAAs for basic body functionality from their food, there are some situations when a supplement makes sense for people who are not involved in exercising, bodybuilding or sports.

For example, any type of injury or physical stress can make it necessary for your body to temporarily receive a boost of BCAAs, especially if you want to heal as quickly as possible. There has also been some promising research regarding the supplementation of BCAAs and certain medical conditions.

Which Diseases Are Benefited by Increased BCAAs?

Research into the link between increased BCAAs and positive health benefits for certain diseases is still primarily in the beginning stages, but it is worth noting and discussing with a physician if you are afflicted with one of the applicable illnesses.

One of the most intriguing developments that have been studied since the 1980s is the impact of increased BCAAs on the appetite of cancer patients. It is common for people undergoing cancer treatment to lose weight due to issues with their appetite, and this can make it more difficult for them to recover.

A double-blind study found that giving cancer patients 4.8 grams of a BCAAs supplement on a daily basis improved the appetites of more than half of the participants, and this made it possible for them to boost their protein levels.

Another serious medical condition that could potentially be treated with boosted levels of BCAAs is Lou Gehrig’s disease. At least one study found a link between taking a supplement four times a day and the reduction of muscle strength erosion during a one year time period.

Unfortunately, mixed results have been found in other similar studies, but BCAAs are still being used in some cases in an attempt to slow down the degenerative effects of the disease. However, as previously mentioned, it is not recommended to take these supplements if you have this medical condition unless you do so under the supervision of a doctor.

The results of multiple studies have led to continuing research into the role that an increased quantity of BCAAs as a whole or individually can have on a wide variety of other issues. At this point, therapeutic doses ranging from one to five grams are used in certain cases, and the FDA has approved an injectable supplement.

BCAAs are being utilized by some physicians as part of their treatment plan for issues such as muscle wasting, certain brain disorders and chronic appetite loss. Preliminary studies have also been looking into the possibility that increased levels of BCAAs can help people with bipolar disorder manage their maniac episodes.

Other possible positive uses for BCAAs include treating cirrhosis of the liver, recovery from fatigue and injuries that developed as the result of running long distances, a reduction in the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, quicker recovery from a traumatic brain injury and enhanced muscle recovery after an extended period of bed rest.

What Interactions Should I Be Aware Of?

BCAAs have the potential to help you with everything from building muscle mass to improving your appetite, but it is still necessary to pay close attention to the possible negative interactions that these supplements can have with other parts of your treatment plan. In fact, any new supplement or prescription medication that you add to your daily routine should be discussed in advance with your physician, and it is also a good idea to double-check everything with your pharmacist.

BCAAs supplements have been found in some cases to produce bad results and undesirable side effects when they are taken with five specific types of medication: Thyroid hormones, corticosteroids, diabetes medication, Proglycem and Parkinson’s medication. There have not been any verified reports of interactions with supplements, but make sure that you talk to your doctor if you begin having any unusual side effects.

Ultimately, having the option to temporarily boost the amount of BCAAs in your body can be beneficial for a long list of reasons, including helping your muscles recover from a strenuous workout.

There is still a lot of research being conducted to help determine other practical applications for taking supplements or eating a high protein diet in order to attain higher levels of BCAAs. However, the lack of any serious side effects in most cases makes it easy for bodybuilders and other individuals who are working on fitness goals to add a BCAAs supplement to their daily routine.

Excipients in Supplement Pills: Menace or Aid?

Excipients are (supposedly) bioinert substances that are added to supplements to make them easier to swallow. Their bioinertness means that they’re not supposed to be utilized in any way, passing through the digestive tract without interacting with bodily tissues. Unfortunately, an ideal excipient does not exist, and there is always a varying degree of interaction with the digestive tract as whatever supplement pill and the excipients it contains make their way through the body. Some excipients are even intentionally introduced into a supplement to heighten the active ingredient’s bioavailability or lengthen the duration that the active ingredient lingers in the body, while again having as little direct interaction with the body as possible. These excipients can effectively be considered “catalysts,” which accelerate or decelerate the rate of reaction of the active ingredients with bodily tissues.

Common Excipients

Gelatin
Gelatin is an excipient commonly used in capsules and gel caplets. It also sometimes finds usage in liquid supplements as a thickening agent. Gelatin can be either plant or animal derived, with an ongoing debate as to which is better. Animal gelatin is effectively purified collagen from the tissues of animals. This animal gelatin was the first to be produced and used in foodstuffs, with the first documentation of its widespread usage dating back to the late 17th century. There is a considerable amount of controversy revolving around the usage of animal gelatin in foodstuffs and supplements. For example, the source animal for this excipient might often be left unstated, leaving the consumer to wonder where the gelatin came from. Instead of explicitly mentioning that their product uses beef gelatin or pork gelatin, many producers simply state that their product contains “gelatin” and leave it at that. This can be particularly troublesome for religious and ethnic groups, vegetarians, and vegans which all have deeply rooted aversions to food products made from certain animals.

These complications regarding the usage of animal gelatin have led to the sourcing of similar substances from plants, which are colloquially called “gelatin” although they strictly aren’t. Some such similar substances include agar, carrageen, which are both sourced from algae, and pectin-based vegetable gum. Strides are being made towards genetically engineering plants such as corn to produce animal gelatin. This new transgenic corn gelatin is almost identical to the animal counterpart- sans the animal. The problem therein being that the amount of controversy surrounding the usage of genetically modified products matches, and perhaps even surpasses, that around the usage of animal-sourced excipients.
Cellulose
Just as protein is considered the main building block of animal life, cellulose can be considered the main building block of plant life. This bio-inert substance is often used as an excipient because risk of bodily interaction with it is slim to nil. Cellulose fibers have high cohesiveness, making it easy to compress them to high densities, increasing the attractiveness of using cellulose as an excipient for dry, solid supplements such as tablets. When used as an excipient, cellulose is often refined to microcrystalline form, giving it additional desirable traits. These include a readiness to flow, which makes it easy to feed through lines into capsule processing plants, a resistance to degradation, as stomach acids are generally incapable of breaking it down, and a lack of absorption, again because of the digestive tract’s inability to process this substance. Microcrystalline cellulose is also extremely hydrophilic, facilitating the breakdown of this substance to release the active ingredient within the supplement. The usage of microcrystalline cellulose as an excipient is approved by the U.S. Pharmacopial Convention. In moderate quantities, the consumption of cellulose is not harmful, and may even be beneficial to the body, as this fibrous substance promotes the healthy functioning of the digestive tract by exfoliating the inner lining of intestinal tissues.
Stearic Acid
Stearic acid is a waxy, saturated acid that finds usage as an emulsifier, solubilizer, and lubricant in the manufacture of capsule supplements. This excipient is usually sourced from animals, although it is also naturally occurring in cocoa and shea butter. Although stearic acid is a lipid, food scientists and cardiologists alike agree on its safety of its usage to cardiovascular health when used in moderate amounts. There are some concerns regarding the usage of stearic acid in tablets because the substance is believed to “coat” supplements’ active ingredients, limiting their efficacy. Metal salts of stearic acid, and in specific, magnesium stearate, are also commonly used as an excipient in quantities lower than 2% by weight to prevent supplement powders from sticking to industrial equipment during processing.

Claims have been made of stearic acid and its derivatives being indigestible, as their consumption does not raise cholesterol levels, leading people to assume that it is nonabsorbable in the intestines. Refuting studies have shown that stearic acid is just as intestinally absorbable as palmitic acid, a food substance that is generally considered healthful. Moderate consumption of stearic acid has even associated with lower heart disease, making its usage favorable in the manufacture of supplements. Usage of both stearic acid and magnesium stearate in health supplements has been approved by the FDA.
Croscarmellose Sodium
Croscarmellose sodium is an FDA-approved excipient that’s introduced into supplements to aid in their dissolution. In its purified form, the substance is a white, fibrous, and free-flowing powder. Introducing croscarmellose sodium into a supplement increases the disintegration of active ingredients in the digestive tract, increasing their absorption. Croscarmellose sodium is also enables the “fixing” of these active ingredients to the digestive tract walls for longer durations, enhancing these substances’ bioavailability while remaining unabsorbed itself. In low to moderate quantities, such as single-dosage daily supplements, croscarmellose sodium should not be a reason for worry. However, croscarmellose sodium is capable of expanding to 20 times its original size by absorbing bodily fluids, meaning the excessive usage of supplements containing this excipient can cause intestinal blockage. The large surface area that expanded croscarmellose sodium provides in the intestines, encouraging the growth of intestinal fauna is another reason why the excessive usage of this substance is disagreeable. There have even been rare but reported cases of hypersensitivity to croscarmellose sodium, triggering allergic reactions.
Titanium Dioxide
Titanium dioxide is an impressively multifunctional, naturally occurring mineral that finds usage in a host of industries. It has the appearance of a powdery, white solid when purified, and is often used as a pigment and excipient in supplements. Its persistently white color and bioinactivity make it an ideal white food colorant and opacifier. No concrete human studies have been conducted documenting the long-term effects of titanium dioxide ingestion. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently found a correlation between the ingestion of this mineral and the development of certain cancers, leading them to classify it as a Type II carcinogen, one that is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Recent size minimization of titanium dioxide to the nanometer regimen has also been suspected of rendering the substance toxic, because of the photocatalytic properties that the mineral gains when reduced to that scale.
Saccharides
Saccharides are a sub-family of carbohydrate molecules that includes sucrose, mannitol, and sorbitol. These excipients are used as an adhesive to keep other tablet components together. They are a naturally occurring class of materials that is safe to ingest. Besides their adhesiveness, other advantages of this family of materials include their hydrophilicity, which makes them readily dissolve in water, and their tendency towards gelation, which allows them to be used in controlled drug release. Depending on the shape of the saccharide molecules, they can be made to dissolve in the stomach, the small intestine, or the colon, making them ideal candidates for specifically targeting drug delivery systems. In addition to plants, saccharides can also be cultivated using bacteria. These bacteria-sourced saccharides form films that have superior mechanical properties to their plant sourced counterparts and are also eco-friendly to cultivate.
Hypromellose
Hypromellose is an excipient that is often used as a coating agent for unpleasant-tasting powders and as a rate-controlling agent for sustained-release supplements and medications. In its dry form, hypromellose is a granulated beige powder. The introduction of water renders it a highly viscous and bioinert liquid. Recent controversy surrounded hypromellose regarding the likelihood of its degradation into unsafe compounds at the high temperatures and pressures reached during its processing into pill form. Hypromellose is also suspected of having drug interactions with active ingredients and other excipients at these high temperatures and pressures.
Silica
Silica is found in nature as sand or quartz. In ultra-fine powdered form, it’s used as an excipient in tablets to prevent caking, act as an interface between bodily tissues and the active ingredient, and as a gliding agent to keep other tablet constituent powders from sticking to one another during processing. Silica is assumed to be biologically inert and is considered safe by the FDA. There have been studies correlating the consumption of silica to the activation or aggravation of celiac disease, the same hereditary illness that renders people gluten intolerant, indicating that people who have this illness should steer clear from ingesting large amounts of this excipient.
Shellac
Shellac was the predecessor to hypromellose. In the 1940s and 1950s, most coated tablets on the market were coated using this material, due to its cost efficiency, high biocompatibility, and exceptional mechanical properties. Shellac coating properties can be fine-tuned to release tablet contents at specific locations in the gastrointestinal tract. The fact that this excipient is effectively a biopolymer sourced from grounding and crushing scale-forming insects led to backlash against it that ultimately caused it to fade into obscurity as an ingestible excipient. The most prominent usage of shellac nowadays is as a nail polish glossing agent.
Alginic Acid
Alginic acid is an algae-sourced carbohydrate excipient. This substance is used as a cheap volumizer and gelling agent for processed foods and tablets. The foaming properties of this carbohydrate when it comes in contact with stomach acids make it an ideal ingredient in antacid pills. This substance does not metabolize after ingestion, passing through the gastrointestinal tract with minimal interaction with the body. Alginic acid is classified as a safe food additive by both the FAO and the WHO.
Methacrylic Acid Polymers
Methacrylic acid is a monomer for many synthetic polymers that are often used in tandem with other polymers such as poly-ethyl acrylate to facilitate on-site gastrointestinal drug delivery and sustained release. This polymer appears as a fine, white powder that dissolves in media of an acidity lower than 5.5pH. Excessive ingestion of methacrylic acid polymers heightens patients’ risk of exposure to the monomer form of this chemical compound, which is highly corrosive, carcinogenic, and destructive to the kidneys.
Calcium Stearate
Calcium stearate is an excipient formed by reacting calcium oxide with stearitic, palmitic, or other fatty acids. This substance is used in the production of capsules and tablets because of its lubricative properties. FDA approved tests have shown that the substance does not metabolize in the human body, and has tested negative for carcinogenicity. Calcium stearate is a “generally recognized as safe” food additive according to the FAO, FDA, and WHO.
Benzalkonium Chloride
Benzalkonium chloride is an excipient that doubles as an antimicrobial and solubilizing agent. It is used frequently in contact lens and other opthalamic solutions. It’s also used as preservative and hand sanitizing agent. Studies have found benzalkonium chloride usage to be linked to bronchiospams, facial flushing, burning sensations in the respiratory tract, and other adverse effects. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review has even found a weak but persistent positive correlation between benzalkonium chloride usage and cancer.

Conclusion

Excipients are additives that are added to supplements to increase their volumes, make them easier to process, or modify them in other ways that are beneficial to the manufacturer, but not strictly necessary to the end user. Many supplement companies could do without them, but choose not to because of the additional packaging and processing costs they would incur in the process.

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http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

http://ajpls.com/admin/issues/pissue141.pdf

http://www.asianjps.com:8080/fileup/PDF/AJPS2011,6%286%29-5.pdf

http://www.drugs.com/inactive/hydroxypropyl-methylcellulose-162.html

http://www.ashland.com/products/benecel-methylcellulose-and-hypromellose

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2977018/

http://www.in-pharmatechnologist.com/Ingredients/Shellac-time-for-a-comeback

http://www.dissolutiontech.com/DTresour/200905Articles/DT200905_A04.pdf

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http://www.drugs.com/inactive/methacrylic-acid-ethyl-acrylate-copolymer-1-1-type-a-465.html

http://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1199.pdf

http://www.drugs.com/inactive/calcium-stearate-19.html

http://www.sakai-chem.co.jp/english/products/pdf/calsium_stearate2.pdf

http://www.drugs.com/inactive/benzalkonium-chloride-644.html

http://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-watch-list-benzalkonium-chloride-the-potentially-harmful-disinfectant/

 

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