Omega 3 DHA, fundamental for cerebral and visual health
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a fundamental role in human health (1). Within this broader family we find the Omega 3 fatty acids, naturally present in foods such as blue fish and their oils, some seeds and their oils, and seaweed, as well as fortified foods (2). A large body of research shows that the adequate intake of Omega 3 is associated with cardiovascular, cerebral, visual and/or fetal health, as well as indicating that these Omega 3 fatty acids are considered essential; that is, that the human body is not able to produce them in sufficient quantity and therefore they must be provided through a healthy diet and/or food supplements (3) (4).
Within the family of Omega 3 fatty acids, those with so-called long-chain molecules stand out, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and, especially, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The latter plays a fundamental role in visual health by its conversion into basic structural elements that are part of retinal lipids (5), as well as in the normal functioning of the immune system and the brain, and in general cardiovascular health (6) (7).
Because of their proven benefits for people's health, many companies work with Omega 3-based dietary supplements, but not all of them are the same, or are of the same quality.
Quality criteria for Omega 3 supplements
To make the right selection, simply ask a series of straightforward questions:
How much Omega 3 should be taken?
The answer to this was provided by an EFSA panel of experts, which concluded that maintenance of proper cardiovascular health starts with 250 mg doses of long-chain Omega 3 (such as EPA and DHA) per day, and that doses of up to 5 g of these Omega 3 fatty acids per day do not pose any risk to healthy adults (8).
Therefore, the allowable margins for the use of Omega 3 supplements are ample, starting with a combined minimum of 250 mg of EPA and DHA, up to a maximum of 5 g per day of the two together in order to safeguard the most important consideration in the use of such supplements, the health of consumers.
What types of Omega 3 should one buy?
Once the EFSA, following years of research, was able to set the minds of consumers at ease regarding the proper intake levels, the next issue to consider relates to the sources used for obtaining this healthy fat.
Among the main food sources for Omega 3 in the manufacture of nutritional supplements are fish oils, in addition to some seed oils, krill and/or seaweed. As for plants, these sources are rich in a type of Omega 3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid (ALA), whose biological activity and health benefit for the body may be less than the direct contribution provided by EPA and DHA given that ALA is a precursor to these molecules, meaning there are many factors that might hinder such conversion (9) (10). Therefore, when choosing a food supplement, it seems wiser to opt for those sources that directly provide DHA, especially if they are homogenous. Studies suggest that dietary supplements containing ALA or EPA have little effect on the levels of DHA in the blood, while the intake of DHA supplements does serve to raise these plasma levels (11).
Owing to this, Anastore Omega 3 DHA guarantees a 49% level of homogeneity precisely in DHA, which means it contributes 500 mg per daily dose.
What quality of raw material is used in the formula?
Regarding the use of fish and seaweed oils, the nutritional quality of some of these ingredients has been called into question, given the potential presence of heavy metals in these foods and the supplements made from them.
A recent example is that of salmon oil. For years, it has been so highly in demand in the manufacture of food supplements based on Omega 3 that studies have reported feed-fed farmed salmon (of low nutritional quality) have resulted in reduced EPA and DHA levels in the muscles of these fish, which translates into a reduction in quality and nutritional value (12) (13). Regarding heavy metals, studies show that, although the regular consumption of blue fish and its valuable PUFAs provides a benefit in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, these fish can also be a source of heavy metals, and that their high concentration of mercury most likely inhibits the beneficial effects of Omega 3 fatty acids in the prevention of coronary heart disease (14).
This is why Anastore's Omega 3 DHA formulation uses natural sources for the highest quality guaranteed by Omegavie® (15), which only uses marine and seaweed oils made in France, free of salmon and heavy metals, characterized by high purity and chemical stability.
How can Omega 3 products be made to be stable?
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are particularly susceptible to oxidation; that is, they are easily damaged by contact with oxygen or by heat (16).
Studies have shown that when these oils are oxidized, they lose a large part of their chemical, nutritional and gustatory properties and that, in consequence, the degree of oxidation of an oil is one of the most important factors in evaluating the quality of such oils. (17).
Proof of this can be found in a study that analyzed 32 fish oil-based products from the New Zealand market and concluded that 69% of these supplements contained less EPA/DHA than stated on the label, and it was suggested that it was precisely oxidation that had led to this decrease in the content of these fatty acids and consequently in their quality (18). However, this is not an isolated case. A study carried out in 2015 in the United States, in which 47 supplements based on krill, fish and seaweed oil were analyzed, determined that 70% of the products subject to the study did not contain the amounts of EPA and DHA stated on the labeling (19). Further, it is this proliferation of food supplements based on fish oil due to its multiple health benefits that has led consumers to look for products that provide assurance of their chemical stability; that is, products that have not been subject to oxidization and that contain precisely the amounts of EPA and DHA that are stated (20).
Obviously, such verification cannot be done by the consumers themselves, so some quality-conscious food supplement companies work using quality standards that guarantee the stability of the oils they use as raw material for their products, thus offering assurance to consumers. One example of this is the so-called Qualitysilver® seal of approval (21), based on a technology developed to ensure that oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids are protected from oxidative factors, which makes them more stable and translates into proper maintenance of fatty acid concentrations and their nutritional and organoleptic properties while extending the shelf life of the final product.
Is the product environmentally friendly?
The health of the planet has a direct impact on everyone's health.
In 2005, an international non-profit organization called Friend of the Sea® (22) was born, advocating for the protection of marine life and conservation of the oceans. Since many Omega 3 supplements are formulated based on fish oils, it seems worthwhile to seek out products that have the seal and certification from this organization to ensure that the raw material used safeguards the sustainability of the practices used in capture and aquaculture. Good for health, and good for the planet.
To answer these questions in the affirmative, Anastore's Omega 3 DHA product is made with Fish Oil (Qualitysilver®), with a guaranteed stable concentration of 49% DHA. A daily dose of the product provides 500 mg of DHA from fish oil produced in France under the Omegavie® guarantee, free of salmon (derived from tuna and/or sardine, mackerel and anchovy), pure, highly stable and obtained in an environmentally-friendly manner with respect to marine resources. Thus, this oil enjoys Friend of the Sea® certification.
(1) Anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Tortosa-Caparrós E, Navas-Carrillo D, Marín F, Orenes-Piñero E. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26745681
(2) Dietary sources of omega 3 fatty acids: public health risks and benefits. Tur JA, Bibiloni MM, Sureda A, Pons A. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591897
(3) Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22332096
(4) Omega-3 fatty acids: a comprehensive review of their role in health and disease. Yashodhara BM, Umakanth S, Pappachan JM, Bhat SK, Kamath R, Choo BH. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19329703
(5) Docosahexaenoic acid preserves visual function by maintaining correct disc morphology in retinal photoreceptor cells. Hideo Shindou, Hideto Koso, Junko Sasaki, Hiroki Nakanishi, Hiroshi Sagara, Koh M. Nakagawa, Yoshikazu Takahashi, Daisuke Hishikawa, Yoshiko Iizuka-Hishikawa, Fuyuki Tokumasu, Hiroshi Noguchi, Sumiko Watanabe, Takehiko Sasaki and Takao Shimizua. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5519357/
(6) Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 2905/ ID2914/ ID 533/ ID 540).
(7) COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health.
(8) Scientific Opinion on the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). EFSA Journal 2012;10(7):2815 https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2815
(9) EPA+DHA, but not ALA, Improved Lipids and Inflammation Status in Hypercholesterolemic Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Zhou Q, Zhang Z, Wang P, Zhang B, Chen C, Zhang C Su Y. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30900815
(10) Long-chain n-3 PUFA: plant v. marine sources. Williams CM, Burdge G. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16441943
(11) Alpha-Linolenic acid supplementation and conversion to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in humans. Brenna JT, Salem N Jr, Sinclair AJ, Cunnane SC; International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, ISSFAL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19269799
(12) Individual differences in EPA and DHA content of Atlantic salmon are associated with gene expression of key metabolic processes. Siri S. Horn, Anna K. Sonesson, Aleksei Krasnov, Hooman Moghadam, Borghild Hillestad, Theo H. E. Meuwissen, and Bente Ruyter. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405848/
(13) Requirements of n-3 very long-chain PUFA in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L): effects of different dietary levels of EPA and DHA on fish performance and tissue composition and integrity. Bou M, Berge GM, Baeverfjord G, Sigholt T, Østbye TK, Romarheim OH, Hatlen B, Leeuwis R, Venegas C, Ruyter B. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28112067/
(14) [Mercury, fish, fish oil and the risk of cardiovascular disease]. [Article in Norwegian] Landmark K, Aursnes I. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14743238
(16) Prevention of Fish Oil Oxidation. Kazuo M. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30542006
(17) Fatty Acid Composition as a Predictor for the Oxidation Stability of Korean Vegetable Oils with or without Induced Oxidative Stress. Jung-Mi Yun and Jeonghee Surh. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3866755/
(18) Fish oil supplements in New Zealand are highly oxidised and do not meet label content of n-3 PUFA. Albert BB, Derraik JG, Cameron-Smith D, Hofman PL, Tumanov S, Villas-Boas SG, Garg ML, Cutfield WS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25604397/
(19) A comparison of actual versus stated label amounts of EPA and DHA in commercial omega-3 dietary supplements in the United States. Kleiner AC, Cladis DP, Santerre CR. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25044306/
(20) Quality analysis of commercial fish oil preparations. Ritter JC, Budge SM, Jovica F. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23255124