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Focus on Food supplement ingredients N°6: Omega 3

Focus on Food supplement ingredients N°6: Omega 3Would you like to finally understand Omega 3, essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA? Then this article is for you. In the food supplement field, Omega 3 are not to be missed. This sixth food supplement ingredients focus will unravel the links between omega 3, essential fatty acids, EDP and DHA.


1) The lipid basic unit : fatty acids

Lipids are constituted of numerous fatty acids linked together. Lipids are a big family of macronutrients (like carbohydrates or proteins). Their basic units are the fatty acids.


By organizing themselves in a bidimensional lattice in aqueous media, the fatty acids play a fundamental structural part for all biological membranes (cellular membrane, mitochondrial membrane…). They also constitute an important source of metabolic energy.


Some fatty acids can bear unsaturations (double bonds on carbon chains, cf illustration picture). They are called unsaturated fatty acids.


Among these fatty acids, some cannot be synthesized by our organism. Their intake can only occur through food. Those fatty acids are the famous Essential Fatty Acids.


It is the case of α-linolenic acid also known as ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid). ALA is an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) precursor of the Omega 3 Omega 3 include the Fatty Acids bearing their first unsaturation on the 3rd carbon of the carbon chain. The α-linolenic acid is represented as follows : ALA (C18:3).


ALA is a precursor of the omega 3 family because it will be transformed into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) thanks to enzymatic reactions. However, the conversion rate is weak, this is why supplementation is necessary for a real EPA intake. Afterward, EPA will transform into docosahexaenoin acid (DHA).


What about Omega 6 ?


There is another Essential Fatty Acid (which is not synthesized by the organism): Linoleic Acid (LA). This EFA bears its first unsaturation on the 6th carbon: it is the precursor of the Omega 6 family.


2) Functions of Omega 3, EPA and DHA

Omega 3 fatty acids are often wanted in food supplements.


In fact, in the cardiovascular field, scientific data show that the association of eicosapentaenoic (EPA) with docosahexaenoic (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids (EPA) promotes :

  • A decrease in blood pressure for people suffering from high blood pressure ;
  • A decrease in triglyceride levels in blood, a type of lipid which, in case of excess, contributes to heart diseases ;
  • A decrease of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among people suffering from cardiovascular pathologies.


Regarding omega 3 docosahexaenoic fatty acic (DHA), it takes part into :

  • Brain functioning for adults during the ageing process with a positive effect on mental health sustainability (depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease…) ;
  • The prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


3) Formulating with Omega 3

Omega 3 come from vegetable sources (nuts, rapeseed, soybean, linseed, chia, pumpkin, hemp, perilla) which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and from sea animals (fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies etc.) which contain EPA and DHA that are easily assimilated by the organism. Some seaweed contain omega 3 including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in small quantities but are, to this day, very expensive.


Besides, it is recommended to vary Omega 3 sources. In food supplements, the intake should not exclusively come from fish oil.


Finally, regarding the average French food intake, the ratio between Omega 6 and Omega 3 (LA/ALA) is of 15 to 1. Yet, ANSES (French Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety National Agency) recommends not to go above a ratio LA/ALA of 5 to 1. As a consequence, for food supplements, the aim is to balance this ratio ensuring a maximum intake of Omega 3 compared to Omega 6.


Obviously, if you wish to have your omega 3 formulation developed in affordable quantities, do not hesitate in getting support from Kares-up.


Raphaëlle DA COSTA
Founder of Kares-up

Amaury ROBIN
Marketing analysis strategy and technical support at Kares-Up



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