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Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Nutrition and Medicine: Considering Microalgae Oil as a Vegetarian Source of EPA and DHA

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Long-chain EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can be co-preventative and co-therapeutic. Current research suggests increasing accumulated long chain omega-3s for health benefits and as natural medicine in several major diseases. But many believe plant omega-3 sources are nutritionally and therapeutically equivalent to the EPA/DHA omega-3 in fish oil. Although healthy, precursor ALA bio-conversion to EPA is inefficient and production of DHA is nearly absent, limiting the protective value of ALA supplementation from flax-oil, for example. Along with pollutants certain fish acquire high levels of EPA/DHA as predatory species. However, the origin of EPA/DHA in aquatic ecosystems is algae. Certain microalgae produce high levels of EPA or DHA. Now, organically produced DHA-rich microalgae oil is available. Clinical trials with DHA-rich oil indicate comparable efficacies to fish oil for protection from cardiovascular risk factors by lowering plasma triglycerides and oxidative stress. This review discusses 1) omega-3 fatty acids in nutrition and medicine; 2) omega-3s in physiology and gene regulation; 3) possible protective mechanisms of EPA/DHA in major diseases such as coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer and type 2 diabetes; 4) EPA and DHA requirements considering fish oil safety; and 5) microalgae EPA and DHA-rich oils and recent clinical results.





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Keywords: DHA; EPA; Fish oil; Omega-3s; Schizochytrium

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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  • Current Diabetes Reviews publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances on diabetes and its related areas e.g. pharmacology, pathogenesis, complications, epidemiology, clinical care, and therapy.

    The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field. The journal is essential reading for all researchers and clinicians who are involved in the field of diabetes.
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