Pure, potent, sustainable: Are algal omega-3s the solution to global EPA and DHA deficiencies?

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are critical for brain, heart, eye and immune health, but most people do not get enough in their diets.1
  • dsm-firmenich’s life's® portfolio provides plant-based, algal forms of omega-3 with diverse applications to meet this critical health need in a way that’s more sustainable, more potent and more enjoyable to consume. 
  • Read on to uncover how algal omega-3s expand supplement formulation possibilities to help manufacturers create cost-efficient products that are safe, pure and enhance consumer experience.

Omega-3 fatty acids are recognized for their brain, heart, eye and immune health benefits. However, only 20% of the world population consumes the 250 mg/day of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids recommended by European Food and Safety Authority guidance.1,2 Fish and seafood are considered among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but a range of factors – including income, lifestyle choices and availability – can reduce accessibility of fish-based omega-3s in consumer diets.3

Consequently, supplements are a common alternative source of omega-3s. Supplements are predominantly made from fish oil, but algal omega-3s can offer a more eco-friendly alternative. In this article, we’ll explore why the life's® portfolio provides a more sustainable, more potent and more enjoyable to consume supplement than conventional omega-3s, while meeting the health demands of the world’s growing population.

Enhanced sustainability and cost competitiveness

Algal-based omega-3s are a sustainable and cost-effective solution to meet growing consumer demand and support marine ecosystem conservation. Fish do not produce omega-3s such as EPA and DHA themselves – they get them from consuming oceanic microalgae.4 The life's®  portfolio is produced from this original algal source to provide a boundless, sustainable and ocean-friendly supply of omega-3s.

Rising water temperatures have created challenges for many fisheries, increasing the cost of fish-derived omega-3s and putting supply chains at risk. In contrast, algal omega-3s are produced through controlled fermentation systems where conditions can be optimized for growth and omega-3 production. Algal production in a stable, biosecure environment provides premium quality omega-3s at a price point tied to innovation rather than unpredictable environmental factors beyond producers’ control.

More consumers are seeking sustainable, ocean-friendly products that protect marine life.5 life's® products meet this consumer requirement, as our extensive life cycle assessment study found they have a lower environmental impact than fish oils. Supplement producers that choose algal omega-3s are securing a high-quality input while meeting consumer preferences for products which support ocean conservation. With large-scale production capabilities, algal omega-3s can meet consumer demand for these fatty acids with an infinitely renewable source that’s not tied to unpredictable fish stocks.

Improved speed and scalability for enhanced supply chain efficiency

Algal omega-3s offer significant supply chain advantages such as shorter production cycles, as well as improved scalability. Conventional fish oil production can take up to 24 months from catch to shelf, whereas algal omega-3s provide speed and consistency, growing from a single cell to a pristine nutritional oil in just 25 days. A hastened production timeframe allows new omega-3 supplements to be brought to market faster, providing strategic advantages in today’s dynamic market.

Consumer demand for omega-3s grew over the last decade and is only set to increase further as research continues to reveal their astonishing health benefits.6 A fully controlled fermentation process for algal cultivation enables scalable and flexible production to keep pace with rising demand. Inventory and output can be adjusted flexibly through capacity expansion. The responsiveness of the algal production process delivers inventory when needed, supporting producers to respond swiftly to changing market conditions. Plus, the reduction in supply chain time provides the freshest, most potent omega-3s possible.

Purity built in from the start

Algal omega-3s like life's® are produced in environments completely isolated from marine contaminants to deliver a safe source of omega-3s. Algal omega-3 production begins with a pure supply, rather than requiring a post-harvesting purification process. Every step from cultivation to final refinement is designed to preserve the innate purity of the omega-3s. Rigorous quality control also verifies the composition and safety of the finished oils. life's®  products provide manufacturers and consumers peace of mind that their omega-3s are of a high-quality and marine contaminant-free.

A new generation of omega-3s with innovative advantages

life's algal omega-3s expand formulation possibilities to improve products and competitive positioning for manufacturers. As they are twice as potent as conventional omega-3s, they fit in smaller capsules to provide a high omega-3 content at a low dose, minimizing the capsules required to reach target EPA/DHA levels. Both a small size plus a neutral scent and taste profile result in a better consumer experience to promote supplement adherence. Algal omega-3s are also a pioneering bioavailable vegetarian and vegan source of omega-3s, making it an attractive choice for the 3% of consumers globally that have plant-based diets.7

dsm-firmenich are on the cutting-edge of algal cultivation and were the first to commercialize algal omega-3s at scale. Today, we continue this pioneering legacy by enriching our innovation pipeline with advancements in EPA and DHA. And by utilizing cutting-edge technology, we ensure that our omega-3s are not only potent but also scalable and cost-effective.  

life's® portfolio: more sustainable, more potent and more enjoyable to consume

life's products have the same clinical benefits as conventional omega-3s and provide a boundless, sustainable and ocean-friendly supply that’s more enjoyable for consumers. life's OMEGA, a product line within the portfolio, was the first commercially available plant-based source of EPA and DHA omega-3s in a single quality source. Our life’s DHA® line is another versatile portfolio composed of lipid forms of DHA omega-3 which can be included into numerous fortified foods and supplements to meet the growing demands of the vegan and vegetarian consumer segments.  

As the global leader in algal omega-3s, dsm-firmenich will support you at each stage of the product development journey to create a relevant product that meets the health needs of the world’s growing population. Because unlocking innovation in the omega-3 market takes more than ingredients, it takes an end-to-end partner.


The future of omega-3 is here – discover how dsm-firmenich is leading the way.


  1. Ken D. Stark, Mary E. Van Elswyk, M. Roberta Higgins, Charli A. Weatherford, Norman Salem.
  2. Global survey of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults. Progress in Lipid Research. Volume 63. 2016. Pages 132-152.
  3. EFSA sets European dietary reference values for nutrient intakes. EFSA. 26 March 2010. [Accessed 24/10/23] 
  4. American Heart Association. Consuming around 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day may lower blood pressure. [Accessed 24/10/23] Consuming about 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day may lower blood pressure | American Heart Association.
  5. GlobeScan 2020 SustainAbility Survey.
  6. IBM. Meet the consumers driving global change. 2020 Survey
  7. Grandview Research. Omega 3 Market Size Share & Trends Analysis Report 2023 – 2030.
  8. Ipsos. Global diets survey. August 2018,

Published on

25 January 2024


6 min read

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