Does algae oil contain Omega 3s?
Posted by kathryn in Uncategorized
Jocelyn from She Spills the Beans asked me ages ago about algae oil:
I wondered what algae oil was extracted from (algea, obviously, but there must be a more complete answer than that). Might an algae-containing product be a good addition to my diet? Where do the seaweeds rate on omega-3s?
What algae is the oil extracted from?
There are a number of algaes that are cultivated for oil extraction. They’re mostly micro-algae, which are tiny, single-cell species.
Algae oil is used commercially and industrially – as well as in food. It can be used as a biodiesel, in dyes and made into plastic.
For nutritionals, the two main species used are: spirulina and chlorella.
What about the Omega 3s?
Algaes do contain Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Spirulina has 8 percent fat in total. About 10 percent of this is Omega 3. There are several different types of Omega 3s. Algae oil contains a variety of these, including GLA, ALA, EPA and DHA.
While other vegetarian foods do contain Omega 3s, it’s the ALA version which is more prevalent. However, most of the studies into the benefit of Omega 3s use fish – which are high in EPA and DHA.
So algae oil is interesting as a supplement, because it contains these EPA and DHAs. These are believed to be the most useful to our bodies.
You can get this by taking spirulina or chlorella supplements. or using algae oil.
What about seaweed?
Seaweed does contain Omega 3s, including DHA and EPA. However, none of them are quite as rich sources as spirulina. You need to eat quite a lot of seaweed to get adequate Omega 3 – more than you would in a normal diet.
- I’ve written about green foods before: should you be using green food supplements
- Vegetarian sources of Omega 3s
What is Q & A Thursday?
This post is part of Q & A Thursday – a fortnightly burst of blogging, where you get to dictate the subject matter. Q & A Thursday is all about simple, practical answers to food and diet dilemmas sent in by readers.