The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegetarian Almega PL™: Microalgal-Sourced Omega-3 Fatty Acid EPA in Polar-Lipid Form

Posted on April 11, 2014 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Expected to be available for retail sale “in the first half of 2014”
according to David Hart Vice President of Marketing at Qualitas Health,
Ltd., manufacturer of Almega PL™, this microalgal-derived omega-3 fatty
acid is a pure form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) without either of two
other omega-3 fatty acids important in human health present: alpha-linolenic
(ALA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Flaxseed and chia seed are abundant
sources of ALA. EPA and DHA are most abundant in certain fish, krill or
algal oils.

Currently Almega PL™ is available as a bulk ingredient to the dietary
supplement industry.

Almega PL™ comes from the micro-algae Nannochloropsis oculata. A study
conducted by Qualitas Health and published in the journal Lipids in Health
and Disease, concluded that Almega PLTM is a good source of EPA in humans (1).
Dr. Isaac Berzin, founder and CTO of Qualitas Health, observed that
Almega PLTM is an alternative to fish and krill for vegetarians.
The VRG asked the Vice President of Marketing at Qualitas Health the
following questions about Almega PL™ in March 2014. This is excerpted
from that exchange:

Q: How is your product different from other algal-derived omega-3s in
terms of the relative amounts of DHA and EPA?
A: Almega PL™ contains only EPA… The most common algal omega-3 on the
market contains only DHA in a triglyceride form.
Q: Do you have a comparison table of other algal omega-3s showing how
their DHA:EPA ratios compare to yours? If not, can you make a
qualitative comparison?

A: There are not too many vegetarian omega-3s on the market. Almega PL™
contains EPA; Life’s DHA™ (from DSM/Martek) contains only DHA; and there
is a new product from DSM containing both EPA and DHA, in general a 1:2
ratio, also in triglyceride form. There are a handful of other companies
looking to manufacture and market algal omega-3s, but to the best of our
knowledge, these are not at commercial scale.

Q: On your website it states that “Algae are fed carbon in order to
grow.” Is the carbon derived from cane sugar or corn?
A: Almega PL™ is grown in open ponds in the desert of West Texas. The
main energy input is sunlight and the carbon source for Almega PL™ is
[carbon dioxide] CO2. This CO2, a greenhouse gas, otherwise would be
released into the atmosphere. Instead, the algae perform photosynthesis
and turn the CO2 into oxygen. Other processes, like those used to
manufacture algal DHA, use sugar as the carbon source, and external
energy to maintain temperatures.

Qualitas Health also notes on its website:

Qualitas Health’s omega-3 supplements are extracted from a natural (not
genetically modified) strain of microalgae…Algae omega-3 oil does not in
any way deplete marine animal populations or threaten the delicate
eco-balance in our oceans. Our farm-grown algae grow in ponds on
non-arable lands, using local aquifer salt water only…The major energy
required to grow our algae is naturally available sunlight…Harvesting of
the algae is performed in a low-energy process without the use of toxic
chemicals, and the output harvest water is recycled back into the farm
activities…Our production process does not generate any harmful waste
products, and co-products are used in animal feed and biofuels
production for minimum waste.

Readers interested in finding out more about upcoming retail
availability of omega-3 products containing Almega PL™ can visit
www.almegapl.com.
Those interested in learning more about DSM’s vegetarian algal omega-3
products may visit:
http://www.dsm.com/markets/foodandbeverages/en_US/products/nutritional-lipids/life-dha.html
http://www.dsm.com/markets/foodandbeverages/en_US/products/nutritional-lipids/life-omega.html

1. Kagan ML, West AL, Zante C, Calder PC. Acute appearance of fatty
acids in human plasma–a comparative study between polar-lipid rich oil from the microalgae
Nannochloropsis oculata and krill oil in healthy young males.
Lipids Health Dis. 2013 Jul 15;12:102. . doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-12-102.

The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications,
including The Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal
medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified
health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient
information from company employees or company statements. Information
does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best
judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research
or confirmation may be warranted.

For additional ingredient information, visit
http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

Researched by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

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