Is new DHA oil the ultimate in omega-3 stability?

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

At 80ºC with 20 litres per minute air flow, the oxidation induction time was 42 hours. ©iStock
At 80ºC with 20 litres per minute air flow, the oxidation induction time was 42 hours. ©iStock

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid

French marine lipid specialist Polaris claims its new generation algal source DHA oil takes fish-free omega-3 “to a new level” by offering “unmatched” stability.

Even with advances in micro-encapsulation and other stabilisation and oxidation inhibiting technologies, stability is still an issue with some omega-3 oils.

“Stability will always be an issue for oils rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) as polyunsaturated fatty acids are very sensitive by nature to oxidation, which causes the fast degradation of volatile compounds,” ​Véronique Sanceau, marketing manager at Polaris, told NutraIngredients.

Adam Ismail, executive director of GOED, the global organisation for EPA and DHA omega-3s, agreed that these oils are problematic from a formulation perspective, saying “any oil that contains comparable levels of EPA, DHA, or other long chain polyunsaturated fats will have stability issues and need to be protected from oxidation.”

He said that in supplements and pharmaceuticals this is managed in a number of ways including in the refining process and ideally by an encapsulator which knows how to handle the oil well.

“Oils usually contain antioxidants, are bottled in nitrogen-blanketed packages and have multiple oxygen barriers including a multi-layer capsule and bottle.  In foods, there are a variety of other ways used to protect the oil, including emulsions and micro-encapsulations,” ​Ismail said.

Polaris claims to have improved on existing methods with its patented ‘Qualitysilver’ stabilisation process, which has yielded an “ultra stable”​ DHA algae oil that the company launched last week under the Omegavie brand.

“The high stability comes from the combination of Qualitysilver with synergistic ’preventative’ antioxidants that limit the onset of oxidation and ‘chain breaking’ antioxidants that block the spreading of oxidation. But the oil’s remarkable stability also comes from the very high quality of the raw material we use and specific, gentle extraction method which yields a very high quality oil,” ​said Sanceau.

Omegavie DHA algae Qualitysilver 5 is produced in Europe from microalgae cultivated in a controlled environment. It is extracted using a natural enzymatic process with no solvents, then subjected to a purification process that eliminates potential traces of residual contaminants.

5 times more stable than standard oils

In tests conducted internally by Polaris using the Rancimat measure of oxidation stability, the oil was found to be five times more stable than a ‘standard’ algal oil formulated with tocopherols, meaning that its nutritional profile, flavour, aroma and mouthfeel qualities were unchanged.

cod liver fish oil omega 3 iStock.com nicalfc
©iStock/nicalfc

“We achieved very good results compared to an oil with a ‘basic’ antioxidant mix and an oil that was extracted via a different method,” ​said Sanceau. “For example, at 80ºC with 20 litres per minute air flow, the oxidation induction time was 42 hours.”

She added that Polaris had plans to carry out an external study with a third party lab on specific volatile compounds.

Besides marketing algae-derived omega-3 oils, Polaris also has a marine-based lipids business. Asked whether this latest launch was indicative of a shift in strategy towards vegetarian-source omega-3s for the company, Sanceau insisted that it would continue to offer both sources.

“This focus on algae omega-3 enables us to offer a new alternative: a vegetable one, which meets a growing consumer and market trend. We will of course continue to work on high quality fish oil sourcing to offer a full range of omega-3s, focusing only on by-products sourcing. There is still a considerable price differential between the two sources so we think both will co-exist.” 

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