Study supports safety & omega-3 boosting efficacy of Ahiflower oil

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Nature’s Crops International Ltd
Image: Nature’s Crops International Ltd

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid

Ahiflower oil may accrue omega-3 EPA up to four times higher than flaxseed oil, says the first human clinical trial performed with the ingredient that also supports the safety and tolerability of the oil.

The oil, derived from the species Buglossoides arvensis,​ reportedly offers the highest levels of non-GM omega-3 essential fatty acids among commercially available dietary plant oils, combining ALA (alpha linolenic acid) and high level of stearidonic acid (SDA).

Ahiflower also contains significant levels of GLA (gamma linolenic acid), an omega-6 essential fatty acid, and oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid, to complement the overall healthy profile of this completely unique plant oil.

New data published in the Journal of Nutritional Science​ indicated that Ahiflower Oil that, in addition to boosting EPA, also boosted levels of the anti-inflammatory omega-6 dihomo-gamma linolenic acid (DGLA) in circulating cells.

“As the richest natural source of SDA, Ahiflower is the most effective non-genetically modified plant seed oil-based source of n-3 PUFA described to date,” ​wrote researchers from the University of Moncton. “This is important because agriculturally produced oils are renewable sources of dietary n-3 PUFA as opposed to fish oils, whose sustainability is questionable.

“Given the ability to enrich tissues in EPA and other long-chain n-3 PUFA following its consumption, Ahiflower oil represents an attractive alternative to current plant-sourced ALA-rich oils as a dietary source of n-3 PUFA.”


One issue with all plant-based omega-3 sources has been the very low conversion ratio of ALA, the predominant omega-3 in plant sources such as flax, chia and hemp, into EPA, one of the two (along with DHA) omega-3 fatty acids for which most of the research on health benefits has been done. Most experts peg this conversion at as low as 3% to as much as 20% for vegetarians. The proportion of ALA converted to DHA is small. 

SDA, on the other hand, converts to EPA at ratio of 30% to 35%, and that direct consumption of SDA is far more efficient than consuming large amounts of ALA. And this is where Ahiflower comes to the fore.

NRC Ahiflower softgels 1bottle angle
Image: Natures Crops International

The ingredient was launched last year and it already has FDA no-objection GRAS status.  The oil offers a balance of omega-3, -6 and -9, according to the company.

The results of the new study were welcomed by Andrew Hebard, CEO of Natures Crops International, the exclusive producers of Ahiflower oil.  “We are pleased that the Journal of Nutritional Science recognized the merit of the first Ahiflower human clinical trial outcomes,”​ he said. “With the UK taking the lead in Ahiflower crop production and the first commercial dietary supplement product launches happening now in the US and EU, a peer-reviewed study explaining Ahiflower oil’s safety and benefits is very timely.”

The company said it is currently seeking US and European supplement or nutraceutical companies interested in co-branding license partnerships for Ahiflower oil.

Study details

Led by Dr Marc Surette, the researchers performed a 28-day parallel-group, randomized, double-blind, comparator-controlled Phase I clinical trial. The diets of 40 healthy subjects (ages 18-65) were supplemented with 2 teaspoons per day of either Ahiflower oil or flaxseed oil.

Results showed that, in the cell types measured, Ahiflower oil showed up to four times better EPA accrual versus flaxseed oil. Ahiflower consumption was also associated overall docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) accrual versus  flaxseed oil and showed significant anti-inflammatory DGLA accrual, whereas overall DGLA actually declined among the subjects consuming flaxseed oil.

“Overall, no safety concerns were revealed following the consumption of 10 ml per d of Ahiflower oil formulation for a period of 4 weeks, with no clinically relevant changes in blood chemistry or haematology values, and no adverse findings in urinalyses during the course of the study,” ​wrote the researchers. “Similarly, the number of adverse events and adverse reactions was not different from that of subjects consuming flax seed oil and all were mild in nature.”

What’s next?

Greg Cumberford, VP-Strategic Initiatives for Ahiflower, confirmed that the company has a second human clinical trial underway which is a dose response study.

“Since Ahiflower products have only launched through brand licensees in the US and EU very recently, it's still too early to assess the end consumer response,” ​he added, “but the early brand licensee response, however, is very positive across a number of market channels here in the US and EU.

“Softgel and liquid oil formats are the first dietary supplement products, with some innovative food and beverage products in the pipeline for 2016.”

Source: Journal of Nutritional Science
2016, Volume 5, e2, doi:10.1017/jns.2015.34
“Consumption of Buglossoides arvensis seed oil is safe and increases tissue long-chain n-3 fatty acid content more than flax seed oil – results of a phase I randomised clinical trial”
Authors: N. Lefort, et al. 

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