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Known as essential fatty acids, Omega 3 Supplements are polyunsaturated fatty acids which are hugely important for many areas of health. Characterised by the double bond at the third carbon (C=C) of the hydrocarbon chain, these fats are liquid at room temperature and need to be adequately preserved over a 2-year shelf-life to prevent rancidity. Given their volatile nature, much has made about whether they work as supplements based on the adequate preservative present (usually in the form of mixed tocopherols) to prevent oxidation. Traditionally, the baby boomer generation took Cod Liver Oil almost exclusively off the spoon and was thought of as a natural tonic to maintain good health. Today, the Omega 3 sector has blossomed to include many different types of softgel and powders available. Vegan suitable varieties now exist and many different species of oily fish are now available to choose from. The anchovy, sardine, cod and tuna fisheries produce about 99% of the fish oils consumed by humans today with anchovy and sardine fisheries amongst the best managed and most sustainable fisheries around. The two most popular Omega 3 supplements or publicised factions of Omega 3 Fatty Acids are EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), but are these worth taking and what do they do? Well, the good news is that they are one of the most researched areas of nutrition and there is good, credible research to show they have a positive effect on health.
Benefits of EPA & DHA
The strongest evidence supporting the consumption of Omega 3 supplements comes from cardiovascular research. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are able to decrease triglycerides, slightly decrease blood pressure and thin the blood, reducing blood clotting. Regular Omega 3 intake has been found to reduce the risk of stroke and heart failure, in addition to decreasing irregular heartbeats. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s) make up a large structural component of membranes, especially where the central nervous system (CNS) is concerned. EPA & DHA is therefore key for fetal neurodevelopment and may play an important role at the time of gestation as well as supporting the adequate birth weight. The NHS recognises the importance of Omega 3 supplements for maintaining a healthy heart and also for pregnant and breastfeeding women, recommending the consumption of one portion of oily fish a week(140g).
DHA has been found in large quantities in the retina of the eye, a key constituent for ensuring visual acuity. EPA & DHA is also thought to support the immune function and bone health. Less well known, Omega 3 Fatty Acids have a profound effect on reducing inflammatory markers and are able to mediate prostaglandin, leukotriene, thromboxane activity. Many modern day diseases are a consequence of chronic inflammation, therefore, Omega 3 supplements could be an excellent way to maintain a healthy inflammatory index.
Fish Oil Soft Gels
Come in 2 different types of Omega 3. Typically softgels with higher in EPA and DHA values use Omega 3 in ethyl ester format, essentially compressing the molecules to get the very highest values possible. Triglyceride formats are also available, these are a more natural option with potentially higher bioavailability but the bulky molecule means less EPA and DHA can be achieved per softgel. Pet nutrition is a rapidly growing sector in supplements, with pet owners spending increased amounts on their 4 legged friends to safeguard health longterm. One of the most popular supplements in this sector is fish oil, often marketed for cardiovascular health, joint support and a beautiful glossy coat. OmegaVie® is a patented example of quality. This Omega 3 is ultra pure, ultra-stable, and Friend of the Sea certified from sustainable fisheries. Read more about it here
Wholesale Omega 3 Softgels
Cod Liver Oil Soft Gels
The traditionally used option. Although Omega 3 content is typically lower in CLO supplements, they do provide the additional benefit of including fat-soluble vitamins A and D which are naturally occurring in the liver. With the increasing prevalence of rickets in the UK, the additional benefit of vitamin D cannot be overlooked as CLO supplements make as a cost-effective allrounder for consumers.
Krill Oil Soft Gels
The most expensive non-vegan option here. Krill offers probably the most bio-available type of Omega 3 available in phospholipid format, however, they are the bulkiest molecule available and therefore krill supplements suffer a low total Omega 3 content. As an added extra, krill supplements are naturally rich in astaxanthin; one of the most powerful antioxidants around known to support heart health. Superba krill is a patented example of quality. This krill is healthy, sustainable, traceable, kept fresh with astaxanthin and extracted from Antarctica waters.
Antarctic Krill In The Water
Flax Seed Oil Soft Gels
Over the years, Flaxseed Oil has been the most popular vegan-friendly choice providing an excellent source of ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), the parent Omega 3 to EPA and DHA. Whilst higher intakes of ALA are thought to be beneficial for health, ALA requires rate-limiting enzymes to convert ALA to the arguably more useful EPA and DHA.
Algae Oil Soft Gels
A modern day vegan option superior to Flaxseed oil. Algal oil is derived from marine algae, and whilst this Omega 3 fat may not be as bio-available as it’s Fish Oil rivals, it’s still a great option. Algae Oil tends to be particularly rich in DHA, but low in EPA. Omegavie® DHA is patented example of quality. This Omega 3 is sustainable, vegetarian and highly stable.
Modern day advances in technology allow manufacturers to use Omega 3 fats in a free-flowing powder for use in capsules, tablets and powdered beverages. The ability for immiscible fats to mix so well in solution is typically achieved with the aid of a beta-cyclodextrin backbone which also helps for superior tablet compression and additionally helps prevent to prevent undesirable fishy repeats renowned with these products. OmniMEGA is a patented example of such a powder.
- ALA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels
- DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels
- DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) maternal intake contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) maternal intake contributes to the normal development of the eye of the foetus and breastfed infants.
- EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart
The Omega 3 Market
Global Omega 3 sales were around 33 billion US dollars in 2016 and are now set to rise to an estimated 57 billion US dollars by 2025, according to Grand View Research. A major reason for estimated market growth is the huge potential for omega 3 inclusion in infant formulas with the other key segments of dietary supplements, pharmaceutical, pet/animal nutrition and clinical nutrition all expected to rise. Other key reasons for predicted market growth include global urbanisation and improved government strategies to educate consumers about the importance of a balanced diet rich in Omega 3. These factors, supported by readily accessible information from phones and tablets, with increased social media popularity, are also expected to be key. Omega 3 sales are also expected to significantly contribute to the expansion of the hugely exciting sports nutrition sector. The preference for an active lifestyle and an increased understanding of inflammation and recovery times will help drive this sector.