Algae in the spotlight for Global Omega-3 Day 2024: Discover 5 surprising truths about algal-origin omega-3

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • This Global Omega-3 Day, we’re reflecting on the vast benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the sustainability challenges facing traditional marine sources of omega-3s.
  • Algal-sourced omega-3s present a promising solution to these sustainability challenges, with innovation in this arena poised to shape the future of the category. However, numerous undiscovered benefits behind these sources are still awaiting revelation.
  • As pioneers in this field, we recognize the huge potential of algal-sourced omega-3 solutions. Read on to discover five truths about them – and learn how you can tap into the power of this superior sustainable solution with dsm-firmenich.

March 3rd marks Global Omega-3 Day, making now the perfect time to highlight the diverse benefits of these fatty acids across all stages of life. The omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are nutritional powerhouses, providing wide-ranging benefits to support heart, brain, immune and eye health. Traditionally sourced from fish, growing consumer demand for sustainability, coupled with limited fish oil supply, has fueled innovation in the omega-3 space.

Enter omega-3 supplements of algal origin – an appealing, eco-friendly way to get a daily dose of omega-3s. An innovative and highly effective omega-3 source that aligns with consumer values, algal oils are termed the future of the omega-3 market. But despite their strong potential for supporting human and planetary health, there are still many hidden positives behind non-fish sources, like algae, that consumers (and industry players) remain unaware of. Here are five truths about these next-generation omega-3 solutions that every supplement manufacturer and brand should know to make their big shift to agal-sourced oil:

Truth 1: Algal-origin omega-3s go straight to the source

Despite being the poster child of omega-3s, it’s a best-kept secret that fish are incapable of producing EPA and DHA themselves. In fact, any omega-3s derived from fish ultimately originate from microalgae. The microalgae are consumed by phytoplankton in the ocean, which are then ingested by fish (microalgae > phytoplankton > fish).

By carefully cultivating omega-3s from algae, you go straight to the source – protecting the oceans’ precious marine ecosystems and rapidly diminishing fish supplies. Algal-omega-3s are usually produced through controlled indoor aquaculture systems. So, while wild fish reserves are finite, algae offer a consistent, sustainable source of omega-3s that doesn’t rely on diminishing marine resources.   

Truth 2: Algal-sourced omega-3s provide the same health benefits as fish oil

Some individuals may question the effectiveness of non-fish omega-3 sources compared to marine sources, believing that they may not provide the same benefits. However, providing EPA and DHA from microalgae delivers the same health benefits as providing these fatty acids from fish – it’s just important to ensure that people consume enough of them. So, manufacturers can feel confident that their algal-source solutions are just as effective as fish-based omega-3s – provided they’re using high-quality, science-supported ingredients. The added advantage of algal supplements? They support the health of people and the planet.

Truth 3: The supply chain is more efficient

Algae can be cultivated, grown and fully refined into an omega-3 rich oils in just 25 days, far less than the 24-plus months required for fish oils. By significantly shortening the supply chain, algal oil provides manufacturers with a purer and fresher omega-3.

Let’s not forget about price advantages too. Rising water temperatures are creating challenges for fisheries worldwide, driving up the cost of fish oil. Being completely decoupled from environmental factors, algal solutions are protected against price fluctuations unlike fisheries, delivering premium quality at a more stable price point.

Plus, algae are harvested in controlled indoor facilities, the oil it produces is inherently pure – so it doesn’t require the extensive post-harvest purification processes that fish oils demand. For those who prioritize a swift and stable supply of clean omega-3s, algal oil is a high-quality, reliable solution.

Truth 4: Not all omega-3s are created of equal quality

Not only is algal omega-3 oil sourced from limitless raw materials, but it is also naturally twice as potent as fish oil products. Higher omega-3 concentrations within algal oils means that less is required to deliver the same benefits as traditional fish oils. Plus, due to production through controlled indoor systems, algal omega-3s are less prone to contamination with environmental pollutants such as heavy metals and toxins, which are commonly found in fish oil supplements. This benefit is particularly appealing to health-conscious consumers who prioritize purity and quality in their dietary supplements.

But it's not only fish sources that algae outshine. Other non-fish sources of omega-3s on the market, such as flax seed and chia seeds, are less effective at maintaining optimal levels of EPA and DHA. This can be especially important in individuals who are vegan or vegetarian, or others who do not consume omega-3 rich foods, like fatty fish.1 For those seeking omega-3 benefits without compromising sustainability or potency, it pays to understand that not all solutions are created equal.

Truth 5: 64% of consumers prefer plant-based options

With omega-3 supplements continuing to grow in popularity for their well-documented health benefits, there is increasing awareness of the sustainability challenges facing marine sources. This reflects consumer research – which says that 64% of supplement consumers globally would switch to a plant-based omega-3 option if available.2 This astonishing demand is a part of a broader requirement from consumers for vegetarian alternatives, with the growing popularity of plant-based diets driving an increase in new animal-free products across many categories.3

Algal-derived DHA and EPA omega-3 oils provide the ideal solution here. As the original producer of these essential fatty acids in the food chain, algae serves as a natural, renewable and highly sustainable source; attracting eco-conscious consumers. What's more, consumers will enjoy much improved sensorial experiences with less fishy smell and burps (if any at all) – making supplements featuring algal omegas more appealing.

Go straight to the source with life's®

dsm-firmenich is pioneering the future of omega-3 innovation with our enhanced life's® portfolio, which goes straight to the source to deliver sustainable, high-quality solutions rich in EPA and DHA omega-3s.

Learn how to level-up your omega-3 portfolio to attract a new generation of consumers with life's®.

Published on

01 March 2024


5 min read

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1 Lane et al. Bioavailability and conversion of plant based sources of omega-3 fatty acids – a scoping review to update supplementation options for vegetarians and vegans. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2021;62:4982 – 4997.

2 Nuseed. New Consumer Research Confirms Untapped Potential of Plant-Based Omega-3s. 7 Oct 2021. [Accessed 19-02-2024] New Consumer Research Confirms Untapped Potential Of Plant-Based Omega-3s | Nuseed USA

3 Alcorta et al. Foods for plant-based Diets: Challenges and Innovations. Foods, 2021;10.