Thinking of switching to algal-sourced omega-3s? Here’s what you need to know

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • As a popular dietary supplement, omega-3 fatty acids are often derived from fish oil, but this puts a tremendous strain on fish stocks and marine ecosystems around the world.
  • Algal-sourced omega-3s – such as those in DSM’s life’s™ portfolio – are emerging as sustainable alternatives that offer the same array of health benefits as fish oil-derived omega-3s, minus the heavy environmental impact.
  • For those pondering the switch from fish- to algal-based omega-3s, this blog explores five key factors to consider.

Unpacking the nutritional value of omega-3s

Omega-3s are one of the most widely recognized ingredients on the dietary supplements shelf – for good reason. These fatty acids pack a significant nutritional punch, with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3s recognized as important players – both individually and together – in promoting human health across different life stages. Indeed, there are a whole host of well documented benefits for heart, cognitive, immune and eye health. Research also indicates that omega-3s play a vital role in supporting healthy blood pressure and infant development (particularly of the brain and eyes). With over 40,000 scientific papers and 4,000 human trials and counting, research continues to reveal additional benefits of these remarkable nutritional lipids.

But the enormous global demand for omega-3 products is putting a major strain on our fish stocks, due to extensive wild fishing activities taking place to obtain fish oil – a rich source of omega-3. This impacts our marine ecosystem in ways that are both tangible and hard to ignore. As more consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the products they purchase, choosing algal omega-3s can make a world of difference.

So, are you considering making the switch from fish- to algal-based omega-3s? Here are five reasons why you should:

1.     Almost a third of all commercial fishing is conducted to obtain fish oil for omega-3s

With omega-3s traditionally sourced from fish oil, the countless living creatures in our oceans have become vulnerable to the intrusive practice of harvesting wild fisheries for omega-3s. As a result of such practices, one third of ocean fisheries are currently overfished and two thirds are fished to their maximum sustainable yield.1 Apart from fish, 60,000 sharks, whales, turtles and seabirds have also been lost because of these fishing practices.2 In fact, between 1970 and 2012, marine life declined by almost 50%.3

The reality is that there are simply not enough global fish supplies to support increasing demand. With entire ecosystems in decline, there is a pressing need to explore alternative sources of omega-3s. The good news is that algal-based omega-3s offer significant potential as a route to unlocking a sustainable supply of EPA and DHA.

2.     Both fish- and algal-sourced EPA and DHA are fundamentally the same molecules

In fact, fish get their omega-3 content from algae, consumed directly or through the food chain, because they are incapable of producing EPA and DHA. By cultivating and deriving omega-3s from natural algae, we can go straight to the source and avoid extensive damage to our marine ecosystems.

This also means that consumers choosing plant-based sources of EPA and DHA do not need to compromise on efficacy or functionality. Apart from the source, the differences between the two forms mainly comes down to the production process. DSM’s algal oils are produced within a completely closed, proprietary indoor fermentation process using natural, non-GMO algae – so you can meet your consumers’ nutritional needs while helping to protect the global environment.

3.     62% of consumers would prefer algal-based omega-3s

Given the wide range of benefits, why is it that less than 20% of the global population consumes the daily recommended 250mg of omega-3s? One reason may be the lack of plant-based options in the market, as 62% of consumers report a preference for plant-based omega-3s.4 At the same time, one in four consumers would pay more for sustainable packaging and products.5 Vegan and vegetarian diets also continue to rise in popularity and fish oil allergies present additional problems for some seeking the nutritional benefits of omega-3s.

Algal omega-3s can therefore make a world of difference. DSM’s 100% algal-based life’s™ portfolio – including life’sOMEGA and life’sDHA® – offers vegans, vegetarians and those with fish allergies the full benefits of omega-3s, without the fish.

4.     Switching to 100% algal-sourced omega-3s could save the world up to 22 million tonnes of fish per year6

For every metric tonne of omega-3 fatty acids consumed in a year, switching to 100% algal-sourced life’s™ products could save 42 sharks and marine mammals and over 41 metric tonnes of fish.789 The need to protect the earth’s finite resources and natural ecosystems has never been more urgent. Sustainability is a core value and business driver for many companies, with success defined by how well we protect our planet’s health.

Inspired by the goal of achieving greater harmony with the Earth’s ecosystems, DSM’s unique portfolio of high quality and effective algal-sourced omega-3s offer high concentrations of both EPA and DHA. In fact, because DSM’s life’sOMEGA contains twice the EPA and DHA content of fish oil, it can have double the impact. This innovative offering helps to preserve marine life and ecological biodiversity while providing a more sustainable solution for global health and nutrition that the planet urgently needs.

5.     With DSM as your end-to-end partner, achieving your sustainability goals and doing the right thing for the planet has never been easier.

When you partner with DSM, you can access the high-quality products, customized solutions and expert services you need and reach a new generation of consumers with health benefit-driven, purpose-led omega-3 products that are good for both people and the planet. Want to find out more about algal-sourced omega-3s and how you can make a positive impact on our diverse marine ecosystem? More information on DSM’s sustainably sourced omega-3 solutions can be found on our dedicated new microsite:

Published on

10 October 2022


3 min read

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  1. Visit Forbes "Two-Thirds Of The World's Seafood is Over-Fished--Here's How You Can Help" [article] 
  2. Visit Reef Conservation International "Overfishing: What Is Bycatch?" [blog] 
  3. Visit WWF "Living Blue Planet - Crisis in global oceans as populations of marine species halve in size since 1970" [page] 
  4. DSM Consumer FGs, July 2019.
  5. Visit Deloitte "Sustainability & Consumer Behaviour" page to learn more 
  6. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 Report.
  7. Access Univesity of Stirling Report "The use of fisheries by-products in the production of marine ingredients, with special reference to the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA", July 2016
  8. Access the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations "The state of world fisheries and aquaculture", 2020 [file]  

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