- Modern lifestyles set context for increased omega-3 need
- Accelon absorption technology first in new wave of breakthrough consumer benefits
The body needs omega-3s to develop and function optimally in every stage of life. The vast body of science associated with omega-3s, especially the long chain omega-3s EPA and DHA, supports consumption for overall wellness, including heart, brain and eye health. This is an exciting era for omega-3 research and development, and BASF has a leading position in omega-3, backed by strong scientific know-how and innovation capabilities. The list below highlights just a few of the reasons why we are optimistic about the enduring potential of omega-3 supplementation.
1. Decades of omega-3 scientific research
Omega-3 is a thoroughly researched nutritional supplement, with formal studies beginning in 1929, when Burr and Burr discovered the role of essential fatty acids as the framework of information flow between cells.1 Since then, a vast number of scientific studies have investigated potential omega-3 benefits, ranging from heart, brain, maternal, early life, joint and bone health, to sleep quality, skin care, eye health and sports nutrition.
2. Global diet is omega-3 deficient
At the same time as a global trend towards more conscientious healthy eating, there is evidence of reduction in fish consumption. A survey of US consumers2, when asked for their preference of animal-based protein as a main meal choice, showed only 7.2% opted for fish versus 41% choosing chicken, 28.5% beef and 23% pork.
Research indicates a high intake of fish in Eskimo and Japanese populations is associated with low mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD),3 while the American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least twice a week.4 A global nutritional survey on the levels of dietary fats and oils from 1990 and 2010 showed that with the exception of Japan, Norway and a few ASEAN countries, most countries do not meet the 500mg recommended intake of seafood source omega-3s.5 Therefore, unless fish consumption trends reverse dramatically, omega-3 supplementation remains the most convenient way to enjoy omega-3 benefits and avoid deficiency.
3. Omega-6:Omega-3 ratios unbalanced
One of the biggest changes in diets over the last decades is a higher omega-6 vs. omega-3 ratio, which in Western countries averages 15:1 compared with the recommended 4:1.6 Excessive quantities of omega-6 fatty acids are known to trigger issues, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.6 Processed foods are particular culprits – estimated at around 70% of US diets.7 While omega-6s help with brain function, muscle growth and hormone production, they also cause inflammation and compete with omega-3s in the body.6 One of the biggest opportunities for the modern diet is therefore to redress the omega balance by eating sufficient omega-6 and balancing it with the sufficient quantity and superior benefits of omega-3.
4. Omega-3 offers the best start in life
Several studies have demonstrated the value of omega-3 in babies and young children. For example, data shows that children born to mothers who took supplements of omega-3s (DHA and EPA) during pregnancy and then during the first months of breastfeeding, scored higher on hand-eye coordination, attention span, social skills and intelligence test scores at four years old, compared to those without.8,9 At the 13th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) in Las Vegas in May 2018, BASF presented an abstract showing positive and superior results of DHA omega-3 uptake to breastmilk in mothers who supplemented their diet with omega-3s plus Accelon. Studies such as these suggest a very positive opportunity for omega-3 to build credibility beyond heart health and provide novel benefits at a key life stage.
5. Omega-3 for allergy protection in the next generation
There is a global increase in allergic diseases and while the causes may differ, it is widely accepted this allergy epidemic is attributable to a changing environment, including lifestyle factors and diet. Best et al consolidated and reviewed the results from 13 observation studies and seven randomized controlled trials. They found prenatal daily supplementation with 0.8 to 3.1g DHA + EPA omega-3s during the last 10-20 weeks of pregnancy provided a protective effect against allergic outcomes in infants and children up to school age.10
6. Omega-3 to help people live longer and stronger
The population of those aged 60 and above continues to grow unabated11 and by 2025, numbers will exceed 1.2bn. Women comprise the majority, largely because they live longer than men.
However, many are now challenging whether we are able to live longer and stronger, with nutrition playing a key role. An expert report published for the European Union12 identifies “undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency” as a major issue for the over 60s, with Dr. Katherine Appleton, from Bournemouth University concluding: “Healthy ageing and ongoing healthy nutrition are the major current societal challenges.”12 Given the potential healthy ageing-related benefits of omega-3s, such as supporting joint, cognition, eye and skin health, it seems inevitable they will play an important role in the diets of tomorrow’s older and healthier generation.
7. Omega-3s: it’s all in the mind
A popular ‘old wives’ tale’ especially in many countries in Northern Europe, is that ‘eating fish is good for the brain.’ The human brain is made up of nearly 60% fat13, with omega-3s and specifically EPA and DHA constituting the predominant LC-PUFAs in the brain and neural tissues. They are crucial for maintenance of brain function resulting in ongoing scientific studies, including omega-3 and cognitive development in babies and young children, ageing brain metabolism and inflammation. Looking to the future, there are solid grounds for optimism that science will establish and develop clear links between brain health and omega-3.
8. Omega-3 provides best boost yet for omega-3 index
To measure your omega-3 level, there is a nutritional tool available that can help people assess this in a single drop of blood, providing you with your omega-3 index. The omega-3 index is defined as the total concentration of EPA and DHA in red blood cells, expressed as a percentage of total fatty acid content. A number of studies14,15 have demonstrated that there is a good correlation between the concentration of EPA and DHA in red blood cell membranes with the membranes of other tissues, such as liver and kidney tissues and importantly, the heart muscle tissue.
BASF’s Newtrition® brand has collaborated with Xerion, a company that offers dried blood spot test kits that are able to measure the omega-3 index from a single drop of blood. Xerion’s technology allows for highly accurate readings of the omega-3 index, empowering consumers to make informed choices on improving their omega-3 levels by increasing their intake through food or supplements.
9. Global omega-3 market forecasts bring optimism for industry
Recent market growth forecasts continue to provide the industry with optimism. According to Euromonitor International, the global omega-3 supplements category will reach €3.78bn by 2022, with growth in all regions and driven by Asia, Latam, Middle East and Eastern Europe.16 The growth hypothesis is fueled by the view that consumers across global markets will continue to be inclined towards proactive health management. In addition to a growing awareness that modern diets require supplementation to provide sufficient amounts of omega-3. Compared to recent academic reviews, the market and consumer outlook for omega-3 supplementation appears to be considerably more bullish.
10. Omega-3: shaping the future
BASF is continuously innovating to offer better omega-3 solutions by improving, among others, quality and absorption. We are convinced that omega-3s have a huge potential as a key nutrient to maintain health. That is why we developed Accelon – it uniquely enables EPA and DHA fatty acids to be absorbed into the body much more efficiently than most in-market supplements and therefore delivers the promised benefits consumers expect.
Data from two single dose crossover studies show BASF’s new Accelon delivers a minimum of four times better absorption of omega-3 on an empty stomach in comparison to the same omega-3 oils without Accelon technology.17 The result is higher delivery of EPA and DHA to cells throughout the body. Even if taken with food, omega-3 absorption with Accelon is still 30% greater than with other omega-3s.17
- Burr, G. O. et al. (1929) A new deficiency disease produced by the rigid exclusion of fat from the diet. J. Biol Chem. 82: 345–367.
- Ben DiPietro (2014, April 15). Why People Are Eating Less Fish. Wall Street Journal. Sources: US Consumption of Beef, Chicken, Pork & Seafood 1965-2012: USDA (beef, chicken, pork), NOAA (fish)
- A. NØrdoy: Fish consumption and cardiovascular diseases; Eur. Heart Journal (2001) 3 (Supplement D), D4–D7
- Rimm, Eric B. et al. (2018, May17). Seafood Long-Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018;138:e35-e47
- Micha, et al (2014). Global, regional, and national consumption levels of dietary fats and oils in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis including 266 country-specific nutrition surveys. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 348, g2272. doi:10.1136/bmj.g2272
- Simopoulos, A.P. (2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.
- International Food Information Council (IFIC). (2017). Annual Food & Health Survey: 10-29 March, 1,002 Americans
- Daniels, et al. (2004). Fish intake during pregnancy and early cognitive development of offspring. Epidemiology 15, 394–402.
- Boucher, et al (2011). Neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of beneficial effects of prenatal omega-3 fatty acid intake on memory function at school age. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 93, 1025–1037.
- Best, K.P., Gold, M., Kennedy, D., Martin, J., & Makrides, M. (2015). Omega-3 long-chain PUFA intake during pregnancy and allergic disease outcomes in the offspring: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies and randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.111104
- WHO. Nutrition for older persons. Ageing and nutrition: a growing global challenge. Online: http://www. JRC Science and Policy Reports: The Role of Nutrition in Active and Healthy Ageing 2014. Page 5
- Appleton, K. The importance of nutrition as we age. The Hidden Health Challenges. Online: https://www.pagb.co.uk/content/uploads/2016/06/The-Hidden-Health-Challenges-optimised.pdf
- Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009 Dec; 18(4):231-41.Chang CY1, Ke DS, Chen JY: Essential fatty acids and human brain.
- Schuchardt, J.P., & Hahn, A. (2013). Bioavailability of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 89(1), 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2013.03.010
- Harris, W.S., Sands, S.A., Windsor, S.L., Ali, H.A., Stevens, T.L., Magalski, A.,.Borkon, A.M., (2004). Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Cardiac Biopsies from Heart Transplantation Patients Correlation with Erythrocytes and Response to Supplementation. Circulation, 110(12), 1645-1649. doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000142292.10048.b2
- Euromonitor International. (2017). Dietary Supplements with Omega Fatty Acids: 2017 Euro Retail Selling Prices, Fixed 2017 Euro exchange rates. Online: http://www.euromonitor.com/
- Qin, Y. (2017). A novel self-micro-emulsifying delivery system (SMEDS) formulation significantly improves the fasting absorption of EPA and DHA from a single dose of an omega-3 ethyl ester concentrate. Lipids Health Dis; 16: 204.
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