Fish oil has gained in popularity due to its high content of DHA and EPA, which are mainly known for their cardioprotective health benefits. However, many people are not aware that it is not fish that produce their own omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, fish obtain their DHA and EPA from consuming microalgae. So as a vegetarian or if you have a fish-allergy, why not going straight to the source to get these healthy fatty acids?
Sufficient DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) consumption is of great importance since they help to keep some of the body’s most important organs functioning and healthy at every stage of life. Especially for brain, eye and cardiovascular health, DHA and EPA play an important role. In 2013, the EU has evaluated and approved that DHA and EPA contribute to the normal functioning of the heart with a daily intake of 250 mg, and a daily intake of 250 mg DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function and vision1.
Since our bodies are not able to produce these essential fatty acids, we must rely on food to get them. EFSA recommends a daily intake of 250 mg DHA plus EPA, however in many European countries the daily intake by adults is < 100 mg, since the consumption of fatty fish is low2. Therefore, supplementing the diet with omega-3 is an excellent way to increase DHA and EPA intake. For vegans and vegetarians, it is especially difficult to obtain an adequate amount of DHA and EPA, since they avoid fish-intake and fish-oil supplements is not an option. Fish-free algae oil supplements are now the one and only alternative for plant-based lifestyles, offer a great alternative for people with fish allergies, and simultaneously represent a sustainable, and contaminant-free source.
Algae oil – sustainable and vegetarian
Currently, the principal source of DHA and EPA for human consumption is fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and tuna. However, considering declining global catches and the impact of overfishing on our oceans, sustainable and innovative sources of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids are needed. In addition, fish oil is not suitable for vegetarians and the fishy smell makes it unattractive. Algae oil, on the contrary, represents a sustainable source and an excellent plant-based alternative for vegans, vegetarians and anyone else who would prefer to not consume fish products.
Straight from the source – fish get their Omega-3s from algae
In the marine food system, microalgae are the primary producers of DHA and EPA, which are carried on up the food chain: Fish obtain their DHA and EPA from consuming microalgae and concentrating high amounts in their tissues – and these fish are then consumed by us. But consumers can get these healthy fatty acids from the same route as fish do, by consuming these microalgae directly in the form of algae oil.
Free of allergens
Fish is one of the most common food allergies and can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. FARE recommends all fish allergy sufferers to abstain from all fish and fish products3, including fish oil supplements. If you are one of them, algae oil supplements are the alternative for you to increase your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, since it is free of any fish allergens.
Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury in the form of methylmercury. Usually fish oil supplements are free from mercury, since they are purified (as it is the case with our fish-oil supplements). The same applies for algae oil supplements: Since they are from a vegan source, toxicity is a non-issue.
Most algae oils contain DHA only. Our NJORD algae oil from Schizochytrium sp. is one of the very few algae oils with significant amounts of EPA in addition to DHA. Click here to read more.
- Ian Givens, D., & Gibbs, R. (2008). Current intakes of EPA and DHA in European populations and the potential of animal-derived foods to increase them: Symposium on ‘How can the n-3 content of the diet be improved?’. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(3), 273-280. doi:10.1017/S0029665108007167
Written by: Saskia Wurm