Recently discovered fatty acid ingredient, FA15, gets GRAS nod for food use

Seraphina Therapeutics, a San Diego–based health and wellness company, says it discovered the fatty acid, which it sells as a trademarked ingredient called FA15 as well as in its own Fatty15 brand of dietary supplement.

A recently discovered fatty acid, pentadecanoic acid, or C15:0, has been deemed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food and beverages. Seraphina Therapeutics, a San Diego–based health and wellness company, says it discovered the fatty acid, which it sells as a trademarked ingredient called FA15 as well as in its own Fatty15 brand of dietary supplement.

C15:0 is an essential dietary fatty acid. Like omega-3, another essential dietary fatty acid, C15:0 is not endogenously made by the body yet is essential to health and must be obtained through food sources. Whereas omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, C15:0 is an odd-chain saturated fatty acid (OCFA). C15:0 is not linked to negative effects associated with even-chain fatty acids like C16:0 (palmitic acid), which the company says has been associated with inflammation, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The company calls C15:0 “the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in 90 years.”

In a company-sponsored scientific paper published last year in Scientific Reports, authors cite research showing that higher levels of this fatty acid, C15:0, strengthen cell membranes and support healthy mitochondria. As such, C15:0 is associated with health benefits such as balanced immunity, heart health, healthy metabolism, and liver health, and may also offer benefits for appetite, mood, and sleep.1 Unfortunately, OCFA levels have been decreasing in the human population over the years.

Seraphina Therapeutics’ FA15 ingredient offers the benefit of being neutral in taste and smell. The company says that, in addition to supplements, FA15 can be used in food products, including to fortify plant-based milks, meats, and nutrition bars. Only a small daily dose is needed (100 mg/day), and the newly acquired GRAS determination approves its safe use in food at a dose up to 245 mg/day. It is said to be shown safe for children and pregnant and nursing mothers as well.

In a company press release, Nicholas Schork, PhD, a senior scientist for Seraphina Therapeutics and a professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, said, “Many people have moved away from dairy-based milks and now use plant-based milks. Unfortunately, these plant-based milks are deficient in C15:0, an important fat that large population-based and ongoing clinical studies support as being beneficial to our health. Having FA15 deemed safe as a vegan-friendly food ingredient could help fortify foods, like plant-based milks, with C15:0 to help ensure that consumers can still get this essential nutrient through their diets.”

Reference

  1. Venn-Watson S. “Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential?” Scientific Reports. Published online May 18, 2020.