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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
The line is based on the company’s flagship, EPA-rich algae ingredient, Almega PL.
Algae nutrition company Qualitas Health (Houston) is launching a new retail line of omega-3 dietary supplements based on the company’s patented Almega PL algae oil. The new supplements line, branded iWi (pronounced ee-we), will be available for sale at such retailers as Amazon, the Vitamin Shoppe, and Sprouts Farmers Market. The line is launching with three products: an Omega-3 EPA+DHA supplement, an EPA supplement, and a DHA supplement.
Qualitas’s Almega PL algal oil is especially rich in the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, which the company says is clinically shown to benefit heart health and brain health, and which provides benefits for inflammation-related conditions. Almega PL’s unique structure comprises omega-3 fatty acids bound to polar lipids (phospholipids and glycolipids)-similar to the structure of krill oil-that help transport the omega-3 fatty acids throughout the body and into cell membranes. Because of this, the ingredient is said to be better absorbed by the body.
The iWi products are marketed as alternatives to fish or krill oil, which derive their omega-3 nutrients from algae. Qualitas markets these algae products as 100% vegan, plant-based, sustainable, and non-GMO, with ingredients that are traceable.
The company claims that Almega PL is better absorbed than fish and krill oil. “Studies demonstrate that thanks to iWi’s patented algae oil, Almega PL, the human body is able to absorb more of the valuable nutrients found in omega-3 from iWi’s algae than from fish or krill,” it says.
The company differentiates its algae ingredient from other algae ingredients as well, noting that “not all algae oil is created equal” and that Almega PL offers the “perfect blend” of highly absorbable omega-3s overall, a high level of EPA, chlorophyll, omega-3, carotenoids, and other antioxidants.
Qualitas grows its algae autotrophically in open ponds under sunlight. In 2015, the company suffered extensive flood damage to its Imperial, TX, facility. Today, the company operates algae farms in Imperial and in Columbus, NM, and an extraction facility in Leon, Mexico. Company representatives tell Nutritional Outlook that the company’s production is now at its highest capacity in history.
Last March, Qualitas introduced a proof-of-concept finished-product dietary supplement featuring Almega PL, called alGeepa. That product is still available in stores in Texas; however, the iWi will now serve as the company’s flagship supplements brand. The line’s new ad campaign features actress Beth Dover of the television show “Orange Is the New Black.”
The company says these first three products are “just the first wave of algae-based innovation” the company plans to unleash under the iWi umbrella. It plans to add protein products next year because the algae ingredient is more than 35% protein by mass and contains all essential and branch-chain amino acids, the firm says.
Of its growing technique, the company says, “iWi, a pioneer in growing algae at scale in the American Southwest, is also cultivating a new kind of farmer-one that grows in an arid landscape far from typically agricultural areas and uses one of the most sustainable methods of farming in the world. With little more than saltwater and sunshine, iWi’s sustainable, nutrient-filled algae can produce a new crop every single day.”