View Full Version : Algae-derived DHA benefits

Garrett Smith
01-26-2010, 12:42 PM
So after all the research I've been reading, including this abstract, I'm very inclined to switch to algae-derived DHA for many reasons, including:

No concern about overfishing (fish, seals, krill, etc.)
This converts into EPA, under the control of the body
Most "negative" effects of "fish oil" can be traced to EPA alone

So, here's the study I just found:
Supplementation with an algae source of docosahexaenoic acid increases (n-3) fatty acid status and alters selected risk factors for heart disease in vegetarian subjects. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9001371)
The purpose of this double-blind study was to investigate the influence of dietary supplementation with an algae source of docosahexaenoic acid [DHA; 22:6(n-3)], devoid of any eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA; 20:5(n-3)], on serum/platelet DHA status, the estimated retroconversion of DHA to EPA, and risk factors for heart disease in vegetarian subjects. Healthy vegetarians (12 male, 12 female) consumed nine capsules daily of either DHA (1.62 g/d) or corn oil for 6 wk. Consumption of DHA capsules increased DHA levels in serum phospholipid by 246% (from 2.4 to 8.3 g/100 g fatty acids) and in platelet phospholipid by 225% (from 1.2 to 3.9 g/100 g fatty acids). EPA levels increased in serum phospholipid by 117% (from 0.57 to 1.3 g/100 g fatty acids) and in platelet phospholipid by 176% (0.21 to 0.58 g/100 g fatty acids) via metabolic retroconversion; the estimated extent of DHA retroconversion to EPA was 11.3 and 12.0%, based on the serum and platelet analyses, respectively. Arachidonic acid [AA; 20:4(n-6)] levels in serum and platelet phospholipids decreased moderately during the trial period (DHA group) as did both docosapentaenoic acids [22:5(n-6) and 22:5(n-3)]. Although no significant changes were found in the total and LDL-cholesterol levels with DHA supplementation, the total cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratio showed a moderate decrease over time as did the LDL-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratio and serum triglyceride concentrations. DHA supplementation did not alter the various thrombogenic factors measured. In conclusion, DHA supplementation markedly enhanced the DHA status (of serum and platelets), provided for the formation of substantial EPA, and lowered the total and LDL-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratios.
Sounds good to me!

Garrett Smith
01-26-2010, 03:08 PM
Clinical overview of algal-docosahexaenoic acid: effects on triglyceride levels and other cardiovascular risk factors. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19145206)
The cardiovascular benefits of fish-derived long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid are well established. Less studied are specific effects of individual long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Based on data from 16 published clinical trials, this review examines effects of DHA triglyceride (TG) oil derived from algae (algal-DHA) on serum TG levels and related parameters. Study populations included subjects with both normal and elevated TG levels including those with persistent hypertriglyceridemia treated with concomitant 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor (statin) therapy. At doses of 1-2 g/d, algal-DHA significantly lowered plasma TG levels (up to 26%) either administered alone or in combination with statins. The reduction in TG levels was markedly greater in hypertriglyceridemic than in normal subjects. Algal-DHA modestly increased plasma levels of both high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The increased plasma level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was associated with a shift of lipoprotein particle size toward larger, less atherogenic subfractions. In some subjects, blood pressure and heart rate were significantly reduced. Algal-DHA was safe and well tolerated. Unlike fish oil, algal-DHA seldom caused gastrointestinal complaints such as fishy taste and eructation, attributes of importance for patient compliance in high-dose therapy. Regression analysis that showed a linear relationship between baseline TG and magnitude of TG reduction suggests that a study of patients with very high TG levels (>500 mg/dL) is warranted. Future pharmacologic therapies for treating hypertriglyceridemia may include algal-DHA.
This stuff will get harder and harder to deny. Well-tolerated and only requiring doses of 1-2g/day as opposed to possibly 10's of grams of fish oil.

Blair Lowe
01-26-2010, 04:08 PM
Do you know of any current sources? What's the price like now? I've heard of this before seeing as algae is very easy to grow and fish and krill aren't.

Garrett Smith
01-26-2010, 04:51 PM
Look for "Neuromins", that's the brand name of one algae DHA.

I'm probably going to go for the Thorne DHA (example here (http://www.ritecare.com/prodsheets/asp/TRN-SP609.asp)) from one of my typical suppliers. It has the largest dose of DHA per pill (250mg) that I've been able to find so far...as I'm going to shoot for 1 gram of DHA total off the bat (the low end of the DHA supplementation that's been shown beneficial in the studies I've looked at so far).

Steven Low
01-26-2010, 05:29 PM
The problem so far is it looks like most DHA sources are expensive enough that taking the 8-10x amount of fish oil is still cheaper than buying the DHA.

I suppose this would also regulate the anti-coagulent abilities of EPA since the body will only convert as much EPA as it needs...

Which begs the question, is there any potential negative side effects of a crazy DHA:EPA ratio?

Garrett Smith
01-26-2010, 05:52 PM
I don't know, Steven.

I was talking to Dr. Wilson today, he's been looking into going into the fish oil business with some hoki oil (a fish from around New Zealand).

He says there is a ton of "Chinese" fish oil on the market that is really low quality, basically they can sell this stuff retail cheaper than he can get the hoki oil wholesale.

Algae oil is pretty much guaranteed clean, and it is algae where the fish get their fats from to make DHA/EPA (or they just eat it and store it).

I think the study on DHA and coagulation I posted a little while ago might have addressed the EPA & coagulation issue a tiny bit. Maybe not.

I'll look into the DHA ratio next time I'm doing the research. So many studies have shown positive effects of only DHA that I don't think this is much of a concern. I do, however, have my concerns for these people taking 15+ grams of fish oil a day, I do think that PUFAs (even fish oil) can definitely be overdone.

Darryl Shaw
01-27-2010, 05:36 AM
Do you know of any current sources? What's the price like now? I've heard of this before seeing as algae is very easy to grow and fish and krill aren't.

There's a few vegan sources of n-3 PUFA's listed here (http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/omega3/#veganDHA) along with the price per 300mg DHA.

Blair Lowe
01-27-2010, 10:26 PM
Damn, 90 caps for 60 bucks!

Can't DHA convert into EPA?

Garrett Smith
01-28-2010, 05:03 AM
Yes, it can.

From what I've seen in the research, doing the DHA-only may be more potent than the massive amounts of fish oil.

I may just have to become an algae farmer...

Garrett Smith
02-02-2010, 02:05 PM
Regarding the equivalence of algae DHA and actual salmon DHA:
Algal-oil capsules and cooked salmon: nutritionally equivalent sources of docosahexaenoic acid. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18589030)
Food and nutrition professionals question whether supplement-sourced nutrients appear to be equivalent to those derived from natural food sources. We compared the nutritional availability of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from algal-oil capsules to that from assayed cooked salmon in 32 healthy men and women, ages 20 to 65 years, in a randomized, open-label, parallel-group study. In this 2-week study comparing 600 mg DHA/day from algal-oil capsules to that from assayed portions of cooked salmon, mean change from baseline in plasma phospholipids and erythrocyte DHA levels was analyzed and DHA levels were compared by Student's t tests. In post-hoc analyses to determine bioequivalence, least-squares mean ratios of percent change from baseline in plasma phospholipid and erythrocyte DHA levels were compared. DHA levels increased by approximately 80% in plasma phospholipids and by approximately 25% in erythrocytes in both groups. Changes in DHA levels in plasma phospholipids and erythrocytes were similar between groups. As measured by delivery of DHA to both plasma and erythrocytes, fish and algal-oil capsules were equivalent. Both regimens were generally well-tolerated. These results indicate that algal-oil DHA capsules and cooked salmon appear to be bioequivalent in providing DHA to plasma and red blood cells and, accordingly, that algal-oil DHA capsules represent a safe and convenient source of non-fish-derived DHA.

Mike ODonnell
02-02-2010, 02:58 PM
I've not taken fish oil in over a year....but eat more herring/sardines.

I find it interesting that fish oil is like a 2:1 ratio for EPA-DHA.....yet sardines/herring are more 1:1 ratio.

Garrett Smith
02-02-2010, 04:15 PM
I would do the herring or sardines, but after taking them for a long time they started to not sit well with me, thus my particular interest in the algae DHA (supposedly no fish-burps with this stuff either, so compliance is much better).

Tony Ferous
04-10-2010, 08:20 PM
I noticed iherb have this special on, just ordered a few, its only 5 bucks!

Jarrow Formulas, Max DHA Liquid, Lemon Flavor, 200 ml (6.67 oz)

Per 5ml:

Ultra Pure Omega-3 Fish Oil
Purified by Molecular Distillation
1450 mg Omega-3 (TG)
750 mg DHA/450 mg EPA

Jeremy Myers
04-29-2011, 02:53 PM
I have been interested in algal DHA supplementation since a seminar with Mat Lalonde. While looking for a particular product I have found a high percentage of the algal DHA supplements also have high oleic sunflower oil which is an extremely potent source of Omega 6s if memory serves. Anyone know more about this? I would love to find a less expensive product than the Thorne version but thought it is probably counterproductive if it is full of Omega 6s as well.