GOED Exchange: Future Omega-3 Forms May Target Organs and Cells

February 11, 2014

There's a bright future for omega-3 forms like liposomes, monoglycerides, and omega-3 salts.

While omega-3s remain useful ingredients for dietary supplements and functional foods, new forms of these fatty acids are on the horizon. During his speech on the final day of this year’s GOED Exchange in Salt Lake City, GOED executive director Adam Ismail spoke of “a new generation of omega-3 products” and the ways they might captivate marketers.

Far removed from traditional pure and refined fish oils are new omega-3 forms such as monoglycerides, glycolipids, salts, liposomes, and resolvins and protectins. Some of them make compressed omega-3 tablets possible (salts) and others create solubility (liposomes). It sounds as if these forms all offer potential for improved absorption-research will need to confirm this-but Ismail says there’s another, less ordinary link that may bring them all together.

“If you look at today’s existing products that are on the market, a lot of these already compete in this area (of higher absorption)…The one area where I don’t really see anything happening today is in targeted delivery…I’m not aware of any of the existing forms trying to position themselves by targeting specific tissues in the body, or organs.”

The omega-3 forms mentioned above all seem to compete in this fashion, with some appearing to reach the gut more efficiently and others appearing to actual target specific cells. Some are already used in dietary supplements, but because of their perceived sophistication, a lot of these forms are already gaining interest in the pharmaceutical sector-which could hinder a future in dietary supplements. Still, some forms may be allowed for pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements if they are identified as occurring naturally in nature and as part of normal human diets.

Despite all of the omega-3 advances underway, Ismail says basic anchovy and cod oils still make up the bulk of today’s market, and these new sources will likely fall into niche markets.