When you think of algae, you probably envision the occasionally present green coating that forms on wetlands and lakes. However, you might not be aware that this sea creature is also grown in labs for its special oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats have a number of positive health consequences.
Algal oil is a great plant-based alternative to fish oil if you don’t eat seafood or have a fish allergy. Fish oil also provides omega-3s.
The 40,000 different kinds of algae include anything from kelp and seaweed to minuscule, single-celled creatures known as microalgae. All forms rely on carbon dioxide and energy from ultraviolet (UV) or sunlight.
What Nutrients Does Algae Oil Consist Of?
Some species of microalgae (DHA) have particularly high concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two of the main forms of omega-3 fatty acids. These plants are thus produced for their oil.
According to one study, the amount of omega-3s in microalgae is equivalent to that in different types of fish. But by adjusting algae’s exposure to the sun’s radiation, oxygen, salt, glucose, and temperature, it’s simple to boost their levels of omega-3s.
Their oil is extracted, refined, and used for numerous purposes, such as enhancing the feed for livestock, poultry, and fish. It’s probable that the omega-3 fatty acids in your eggs, chicken, or farmed salmon came from algae oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also present in this oil, which makes them available for use in dietary supplements, other meals, and plant-based vitamins.
The Finest Sources
In fatty plant meals, ALA predominates. The finest food sources include flax seeds and oil, chia seeds, walnuts, canola, and soybean oils, as well as flax and chia seeds.
Fish and other seafood contain both EPA and DHA. The richest dietary sources of these lipids include oily fish, including herring, salmon, anchovies, sardines, and others.
EPA and DHA are also provided by seaweed and algae. Because they are unable to produce it, fish must get their EPA and DHA from microalgae. Because of this, algae is the source of fish’s omega-3 lipids.
Fish Oil vs. Algae Oil
All fish, whether wild or farmed, receive their omega-3 content by consuming algae, which is thought to be a key source of omega-3 lipids.
In one investigation, algal oil supplements were shown to be functionally and nutritionally equal to cooked salmon.
Additionally, a two-week study of 31 individuals found that even in a vegetarian group with low DHA levels at the beginning of the trial, consuming 600 mg of DHA from algal oil per day boosted blood levels by the same proportion as taking a similar amount of DHA from fish oil .
Similar to how fish food and fat storage affect the structure of fatty acids in fish, the fatty acid content of algae differs depending on the species, stage of growth, seasonal fluctuations, and climatic conditions.
However, experts may choose and cultivate particular strains that have more omega-3 fatty acids. It may be more sustainable to use algae because it grows rapidly and doesn’t contribute to exploitation. complement with fish oil
Algal oil is also devoid of any contaminants that could be found in fish and fish oils since it has been refined and developed in unregulated settings.
It also seems to be associated with a lower risk of stomach discomfort and fewer flavor complaints because of its neutral flavor.
Potential Medical Advantages
According to research, those who consume more omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to develop specific diseases. This connection is more pronounced in fish eaters than in complement users. Despite this, research points to the potential benefits of supplements.
Instead of algal oil, many studies concentrate on fish oil. Even in vegetarians and people who don’t eat fish, studies using fish have shown a sizable increase in blood DHA. It’s possible that you aren’t consuming enough of these fats if you don’t eat fish at least twice per week. So a supplement might be able to make up for that.
Bear in mind that various levels of these fatty acids are present in supplements containing algal oil. Pick one that has at least 250 mg of EPA and DHA combined in each serving. They are available online and at specialist shops.
Consider asking your doctor whether you need to take a greater dose if you have excessive triglycerides or blood pressure.
While you may take it whenever you choose, most manufacturers advise pairing supplements with a meal, particularly one that contains protein.
Keep in mind that the unsaturated fats in supplements containing algal oil might oxidize and become rancid over time. Keep gels and capsules in a cool, dry place, store liquid supplements in the refrigerator, and discard any that smell bad.
Potential Negative Effects
The widespread consensus is that omega-3 supplements are secure. Unless you take extremely large amounts, they seldom have any negative effects.
There is no established upper limit for EPA and DHA doses, but the European Food Safety Authority asserts that daily doses of up to 5,000 mg seem to be safe.
Algal oil hasn’t been linked to many of the drawbacks of fish oil, including a fishy aftertaste, heartburn, belching, digestive problems, and nausea.
Additionally, some drugs and omega-3 supplements may interfere, so it’s always a good idea to see your doctor first.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:
Algal oil that is high in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is probably safe to consume when expecting or nursing a baby. Some prenatal supplements and baby feeds contain algae oil as a source of DHA. DHA levels in breast milk rise if it is consumed while nursing. The majority of experts suggested taking 300 mg of DHA daily while pregnant and while nursing. 8–12 ounces of seafood per week while pregnant and 4–8 ounces per week while nursing can meet this requirement. People who don’t consume fish or who are nutrient-deficient may need to take a supplement like algal oil. Algal oil, a different type of omega-3 fatty acid, contains EPA, but there is insufficient reliable research to say whether it is advantageous.
EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fats that seem to be crucial for your wellbeing, are found in algae oil, a supply that is derived from plants.
It has the same advantages as fish oil but is a better option if you don’t eat fish, consume only plant-based foods, or are sensitive to the flavor or side effects of fish oil.
By consuming algae oil, you may reduce your risk of developing coronary issues, fight inflammation, and improve the condition of your eyes and brain.