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Smart way to live long life

Smart way to live long life

Omega-3 fatty acids from algae or from fish?

Omega-3 fatty acids from algae or from fish?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients found in fish and certain plants as well as plant oils. They include ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). All three fatty acids play an important role in normal human growth and development and have clinically-supported benefits to overall health for all ages throughout life.

Since Vegan Omega 3 supplement is a recent addition to our portfolio, we decided to focus on algae omega-3s in this article.


Article at a glanc:

  1. What are omega-3 fatty acids?
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources
  3. Algae Omega-3 production technology
  4. Plant resources and sustainability
  5. The benefits of algae omega-3 fatty acids

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

As already written, omega-3 fatty acids include mainly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These three types of omega-3 are usually classified as essential fatty acids, but this is not a completely accurate statement. In fact, only alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is essential. The other fatty acids are so-called semi-essential, which means that our body can synthesize them from ALA. However, the conversion of ALA into omega-3 is too low to meet normal metabolic demands and nutritional requirements. Therefore it is necessary to achieve an appropriate omega-3 level through the diet or supplement in order to ensure optimal nutritional status and support human health.

Recent studies have repeatedly shown that EPA and DHA are deficient nutrients in our diet. They are both absolutely crucial for our health and literally everyone needs them, from birth to senior age. It is obvious that an optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids is an important factor in the prevention of a whole range of chronic diseases. They are used, for example, in the regulation of chronic inflammation, in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, good vision or normal brain function.


Omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources

Most people associate omega-3 fatty acids with fish or fish oil supplements. However, there are already plant-based alternatives obtained from algae that contain the same omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish. It is important to remember that seaweed is at the beginning of the food chain, and since fish (like humans) do not have the necessary enzymes for the synthesis of DHA and EPA, they are dependent on their intake from the diet. In other words, fish cannot obtain omega-3 fatty acids in other ways than by consuming algae and other primary sources of omega-3 fatty acids (like marine plankton).

Algae (from Latin alga = algae) omega-3 fatty acids are produced from microalgae grown in closed aquaculture under strictly controlled conditions. For this reason, potential contamination by harmful substances can be better controlled and regulated by algae omega-3 fatty acids (unlike by fish omega-3s, as fish are living in a polluted marine ecosystem). With omega-3 fatty acids obtained from algae, manufacturers don't have to use such a demanding "purification" process as they do with wild animal sources. This subsequently also affects the oil stability, which is generally better by algae omega-3s compared to fish oil.


Algae Omega-3 production technology

The first step of the manufacturing process is a fermentation that gradually cultivates biomass from algae. The fermentation process is followed by the solvent-free oil extraction. Unlike fish oils, it does not require such drastic refining interventions. Oil from fermented algae is obtained by enzymatic process extraction followed by mechanical separation, where no chemical extraction agents are used. The crude oil is then standardized to a guaranteed EPA and DHA content. 

In the final stage of production, the oil is enriched with a natural mix of antioxidants guaranteeing the stability of the oil throughout its expiration

It’s important to note that the manufacturing process can be cheated at any stage, so it is not true that any omega-3s obtained from algae are always good or better than fish oils. There are only a few manufacturers in the world who have invested in the development and own top technology for the production of premium algae omega-3 supplements. And we are proud to be among them.


Plant resources and sustainability

Trime addresses every detail of production, including ecology and sustainability. We are interested in the long-term effects on the environment. That’s why we also have a detailed LCA analysis of the product's life cycle. We invited its creator, Doc. Ing. Vladimír Kočí, Ph.D., MBA, an expert in the method of product life cycle assessment, to Trime podcast #08, that you can watch here.

Just as it is not possible to immediately solve the global dependence on fossil fuels, it is not possible to immediately saturate the omega-3 market exclusively from plant sources. We recognize that overfishing and other detrimental environmental factors contribute to the destabilization of the marine ecosystem. Therefore, algae omega-3 fatty acids represent the best long-term sustainable alternative.

After careful analysis, we dare to say that plant-based omega-3s have basically the same benefits as the fish ones. Their only drawback is their higher price, reflecting not only the cultivation process, but also the demanding technology used for gentle extraction. However, it can be expected that increased demand and a growing market share will gradually reduce the algae omega-3s price. On the contrary, wild animal resources will become more and more rare and thus more expensive, which is already evident with some types of fish.


The benefits of algae omega-3 fatty acids

  1. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
  2. They are non-allergenic - people with an allergy to fish protein do not have to deal with the risk of an allergic reaction
  3. Gentle processing and purity of the product - gentle extraction methods without the use of chemical solvents are used during manufacturing process
  4. Product sustainability – just as alternative sources are being developed in the automotive industry not to be dependent on non-renewable fossil fuels, the food production industry also seeks more sustainable sources. Environmentalists point to the need to regulate overfishing and in the case of meeting the need for omega-3s, the problem can be solved by the innovative cultivation technologies that use specific strains of algae for the production of DHA and EPA.


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