Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that are so frequently sourced from fish that they have become synonymous with the finned, water-dwelling creatures. Next time you are walking the aisles of your local grocery store, it’s unlikely you will see an “omega-3” section in the supplement aisle. However it is very likely you will see a sign for “fish oil.”
If the practice of sourcing omega-3s from fish is so common, it would make sense for them to be the best and most efficient source. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! The reality is, omega-3s that are sustainably sourced from algae are better for you, the planet, and all of its inhabitants. Here’s why:
1. Directly from the Source
With so many fish being caught and used to produce fish oil (almost 100 fish per bottle of omega-3 supplements), it would seem natural to assume that the omega-3s are created by the fish themselves and therefore must be extracted from their bodies. In fact, fish do not synthesize omega-3s and instead get them from eating- you guessed it- algae! (Or other smaller fish who in turn ate the algae)
This means that using algae is simply going directly to the source and obtaining the exact same nutrient without waiting for a fish to eat it first.
2. Lower Impact on the Environment
By leaving fish in the ocean, algae-based omega-3 supplements don’t contribute to the issues with overfishing and ocean plastic pollution that are caused by the commercial fishing industry. This is already a huge step in the right direction, but the environmental benefit doesn’t stop there.
Companies can take another huge leap forward by using sustainable algae that is grown indoors. This method cultivates the omega-3 source completely independent of the natural environment which means it has absolutely zero impact on the ocean ecosystem.
3. Avoid Bioaccumulating Chemicals and Toxins
One issue with harvesting fish from the ocean, is not the fish but everything else in the water. Over time, our planet’s oceans have become increasingly polluted with a variety of substances. Some of which (microplastics, DDT, and PCBs just to name a few) bioaccumulate as they move up the food chain.
Basically, certain substances enter an animal’s body at a faster rate than they can eliminate them. This causes a gradual buildup of the substance leading them to accumulate it over time. The process starts with a small fish, who is then eaten by a larger fish, who is in turn eaten by a larger fish- you get the picture. The further up the food chain, the worse the buildup.
The bad news is that these bioaccumulating chemicals and toxins then end up in fish-based omega-3 supplements, along with other products made from fish. Luckily, when you source omega-3s directly from sustainably grown algae, this problem is eliminated altogether!
4. Potent Long-Chain EPA and DHA
So far, we have established that algae are superior to fish as a source for these essential fatty acids, but what makes algae superior to other plant sources of omega-3s? You may have heard that you should eat walnuts, hemp hearts, chia seeds, or a variety of other plant foods for their high omega-3 content. If that’s the case, what’s the big deal with algae?
The answer is that there are multiple types of omega-3 fatty acids. They can be split into two categories: short-chain and long-chain.
The short-chain fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is the kind that is found in virtually every plant food.
Conversely, the long-chain omega-3s, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are almost exclusively found in seafood.
Both forms are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, but the key is that you need both. The body can convert some ALA into EPA and DHA, but studies have shown this process is inefficient and likely not enough to supply the average adult’s RDA of EPA and DHA.
This is what makes algae so special; it is a potent plant-based source of already fully formed long-chain omega-3s!
Undoubtedly, when it comes to sources of omega-3 fatty acids, sustainable algae grown indoors is the absolute pinnacle. Terraseed is leading the way by exclusively sourcing our omega-3s this way- we hope to see a future where other companies follow suit!