Algae-Based Omega-3 Supplements May Have More Cardiovascular Benefits Than Fish Oil

A clinical trial has demonstrated that a type of algae-based omega-3 supplement (AlmegaPL, the functional ingredient in products made by US brand iwi life) may support cardiovascular health more effectively than traditional fish oils.

The algae oil was found to decrease triglycerides by 14%, four times what would be expected from conventional omega-3 supplements. It also reduced remnant cholesterol by up to 25%, supporting theories that EPA-only omega-3s may perform better than those containing both EPA and DHA (two types of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids).

There was no increase in LDL cholesterol in those taking AlmegaPL, whereas supplements containing both types of fatty acid have been shown to raise cholesterol levels. Unexpectedly, 12 weeks of supplementation also reduced hip circumference and body weight compared to the placebo group.

AlmegaPL is made from a proprietary strain of omega-3 fatty acid extracted from the photoautotrophic microalgae Nannochloropsis. It is said to be the only photosynthetic source of long-chain omega fatty acids commercially available for human consumption in the US, and the only marine omega-3 supplement containing no DHA at all.

© iwi life

“Highly beneficial”

The new study has been published ahead of Global Omega-3 Day, which takes place on March 3. Research indicates that 83% of the global population lives in countries where the average intake of omega-3s is inadequate, which may contribute to issues with heart, brain, and eye health.

For those who don’t consume fish, a variety of vegan omega-3 supplements are available. Most are made from algae, such as those offered by Vitomega and Vmega-3. However, Australia’s PhytoLove recently launched a new type of plant-based omega-3 supplement made from the seeds of a wild plant discovered in the UK. Other companies, such as DSM and Polaris, offer algae oils that can be incorporated into plant-based foods such as meat and fish alternatives.

“The study’s significance is underscored by its execution within a real-world population, predominantly normolipidemic supplement consumers,” said Dr. Eneko Ganuza, a principal investigator who led the AlmegaPL research. “This highlights the use of naturally sourced AlmegaPL algal oil as an over-the-counter supplement to help support cardiovascular health in the general healthy population.”

He added, “The remarkable triglyceride-lowering response observed in this clinical trial cannot be solely attributed to the omega-3 content alone. There is something about the unique polar form in which this algal lecithin yields the omega-3s that prove highly beneficial to our heart health.”

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