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Supercritical Extraction and Oxidation

Numerous studies have shown that the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids result in many beneficial health effects including, but not limited to heart health and visual development, however...

One issue that keeps rearing it's ugly head in omega oils products is oxidation. Oxidation is what causes the fishy taste, rancid odor and loss of the nutritional value people find in oxidized omega oil products. The double bonds of omega-3s makes them much more susceptible to oxidation and rancidity.

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Also water, a main component in the manufacturing process of omega oil products can be a catalyst to the oxidation process. Iron and cooper, found in even the cleanest of waters is the main culprit.

Age is another factor. Fish oils can turn rancid quickly and lose their effectiveness [1],[2]

A new revolutionary manufacturing process that involves the use of highly pressurized CO2 (carbon dioxide) has shown to greatly reduce the oxidation issue commonly found in omega oil products.

This process is called Supercritical Extraction.

In this process CO2 is pressurized at specific temperatures. At this level it becomes a inert solvent that can extract the active ingredients of various plant species without the usual high temperatures or harsh chemicals solvents found in other processess. Also oxygen, another main catlyst in the oxidation process is lacking which greatly reduces the oxidative process found in most omega oil products.

The results of using a Supercritical Extraction process is a far more active, concentrated product.

Supercritical Extraction works when CO2 is highly compressed at a specific temperature. It transforms into a dense liquid gas known as Supercritical CO2. It is about 1.5 times as heavy as air and is stable, inert, and nontoxic. In chemical terminology, inert is used to describe something that is not chemically active[3].

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Supercritical CO 2 is biologically compatible, and has been given a generally regarded as safe (GRAS) designation by the FDA. The specifications for this rating can be found in 21CFR184.1983 -- Sec. 184.1983.

Supercritical extraction has three primary advantages over conventional solvent extraction processes;

  • Supercritical yields extremely clean, absolutely solvent free extracts

  • Supercritical extracts more of the plants functional components

  • Supercritical extraction greatly reduces or eliminates the oxidation rate of the components unlike traditional methods.

It allows for the creation of very pure extracts with exacting quality controls and maximum efficiencies and it does not introduce any undesirable elements into the process such as chemical solvents and oxidation, i.e. rancification

[1] http://www.consumerlab.com/results/omega3.asp
[2] Nutr Res Rev. 2006;19:53-62.
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inert


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