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BASF explores why Omega-3s are not yet optimal

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  • Latest scientific learning and consumer research show omega-3 supplements may not provide all the benefits they claim
  •  Accelon absorption technology from BASF offers brand owners a solution

Consumers have long been advised to take omega-3 supplements with a meal, to ensure fatty acids are properly digested, absorbed and made available for the body’s cells and tissues early in the day. However, from a combination of proprietary consumer research and meta-analysis, BASF concludes the majority of omega-3 supplement users are not absorbing these vital fatty acids either efficiently or effectively.


One of the main causes is the growing meal skipping trend, affecting up to 88% of the total global population, with breakfast the biggest culprit. The research revealed that while two-thirds of omega-3 users take their supplements in the morning, usually around breakfast time, 53% of US consumers admit they skip breakfast at least once a week, 50% of UK consumers regularly miss it, 39% of Australians eat breakfast less than five days per week and 12% never have breakfast at all. Most people claim not to be hungry or simply don’t have time to eat.

In addition, BASF’s latest scientific learning into omega-3 absorption suggests the daily challenge of getting the right quantity of fats into our bodies further decreases the chances of getting all the intended benefits from omega-3 supplementation.

Per-Olof Larsson, Global Head of Scientific Affairs Omega-3 nutrition at BASF explains: “Without a proper meal, especially a high fat meal, the natural digestive processes in the body are slower and less effective. If an omega-3 supplement is usually taken in the morning without food, less will be incorporated into cell membranes, potentially not providing the expected benefits. Meal-skipping, especially breakfast, therefore means consumers might not be getting sufficient omega-3 to where it’s needed, no matter how strong or potent the supplement claims to be.


We used FDA methodology for checking omega-3 nutrients’ dependency on ‘food effects’ – the test clearly shows omega-3 needs a full-fat breakfast to ensure its proper absorption. An example test meal would be two eggs fried in butter, two strips of bacon, two slices of toast with butter, four ounces of hash browns and eight ounces of whole milk. It’s unlikely most consumers want to eat this type of meal every day, especially first thing in the morning, but if they’re skipping breakfast as well, it further limits the optimal biological conditions for absorption.”

New from BASF, Accelon absorption technology has been developed as a direct response to these new consumer and scientific insights. Global Category Lead Omega-3 Nutrition at BASF, Chris Howell explains: “Understanding consumer needs and motivations sets BASF apart when developing omega-3 innovations. From research across multiple markets, we understand most omega-3 supplement users take them in good faith, only to risk not getting all the benefits because of skipping or not eating the ideal breakfast. Accelon cuts through all this, making consumer compliance easy to achieve, ensuring the omega-3 isn’t wasted but gets to where it’s needed, providing the full benefits consumers have paid for.”

Data from two single dose, crossover studies show 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.​ The result is higher delivery of EPA and DHA to cells throughout the body. Even if taken with food, Accelon absorption is still 30% greater than with other omega-3s.

Øyvind Ihle, Head of Global Omega-3 Nutrition at BASF adds: “For brand owners, Accelon provides a unique opportunity to attract new users with a new brand narrative; by providing consumers genuine reasons to believe they will get their omega-3 benefits no matter when or with what meal they take them.”

[1]​ Food Report 2015; Instantly Report USA 2015; Int. J. Behav. Nutr. Phys Act. 2016;13:125

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