SupplySide West: Algal Oil and Stability


Qualitas makes a discovery in its dark-green alga.

Krill oil is more stable than fish oil, and plenty of compounds in krill oil make it so-but what about algal oils? Could these increasingly popular (and plant-based) omega-3 sources be even more stable?

At least one algae supplier is looking hard at the notion. Qualitas Health (Imperial, TX) harvests and sells an EPA-rich algal strain called AlmegaPL. At the SupplySide West tradeshow in Las Vegas, company vice president of biology Sam Couture said that although his company has yet to directly compare its oil against krill oil, Qualitas made an interesting discovery on just its own ingredient.

Popular supplement oils and cooking oils of today, at least many of them, are of translucent and golden shades. Flax, fish, and olive oil are a few examples. AlmegaPL, on the other hand, is dark-green. So, said Couture, “We thought, ‘Let’s try to clean our oil up and make it a nice, yellow oil-like everyone’s used to seeing.” Qualitas workers removed the chlorophyll and carotenoids from their oil, both of which impart pigments, and they looked for changes in oxidative stability.

“The oxidative stability actually went down,” said Couture. “So, by leaving zeaxanthin and the other carotenoids that naturally occur in our algae in the oil, we found that our stability is much higher.” Chlorophyll also has nutritional benefits on its own.

Qualitas grows its alga strain under direct sunlight, so the ingredient develops nutrients by photosynthesis; on the other hand, some alga strains grow in darkness and feed on sugars. They have no pigments, and so their stability may differ and be controlled in other ways.

Because algal strains grow under such varied conditions, its important to remember to shop around and find the strain that’s best suits your needs.


Photo courtesy of Qualitas Health.

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