Algae Oil vs Fish Oil

There’s often a debate around which omega 3 source is superior. This generally comes from the fact that there is more than one omega 3 fatty acid said acids; DHA, EPA and ALA, actually do different things. This is of particular interest when it comes to supplementing omega oils for joint health as EPA and DHA are considered to be more important for this.

However, it should be noted that fish themselves get DHA and EPA from eating algae [1], so as you’d expect a lot of people claiming fish oils are superior overall aren’t necessarily correct.

It’s likely a lot of this misconception comes from people comparing fish and krill oil to flax seed oil, which is a higher concentration of ALA, but it’s far less relevant when we compare fish oil to algae oil.

What are DLA, ALA and EPA?

ALA – Alpha-linolenic acid is referred to as the parent omega 3 fatty acid, that’s because your body can convert ALA into either DHA or EPA, unfortunately this process isn’t very effective and there is a lot of wastage meaning you lose up to 85%. You do need all 3, but this generally makes flax seed oil less effective as a vegan option when flax seed oil is compared against algae oil for omega 3. ALA is generally in higher prevalence in land based omega 3 sources, such as walnuts, soy and canola and due to the wastage it simply isn't possible to get enough ALA to meet dietary needs these sources without supplementation.

DHA - Docosahexaenoic Acid is essential for brain development, improves learning and cognitive function, [2]. Some studies have shown that DHA has a slightly higher anti inflammation effect than EPA [3] which makes it particularly interesting for joint supplements. For example, in a recent study DHA lowered 3 types of inflammatory proteins, whereas EPA only effected one. Although multiple other studies have shown that it is better to supplement both.

EPA - Eicosapentaenoic acid reduces triglyceride levels in the blood and has been shown to reduce pain and swelling [4].

DPA – Docosapentaenoic acid is less well known than the other omega 3 fatty acids, DPA is found in fish, poultry and algae and it functions to help your body use EPA and DHA effectively. [5]

Generally speaking, the breakdown of these fatty acids in Algae vs Fish Oil is entirely relevant to the algae species and the fish in questions diet, in other words which algae they’re eating. As a result, the breakdown will vary from supplement to supplement. We recommend looking for high DHA blends for joints and high EPA for brain health supplements.

Related ----- > Best Combined Joint Supplements 2023

Algae Oil Vs Fish Oil Studies

Algae oil supplements have been demonstrated to be equivalent cooked salmon and work the same way as fish oil in your body [6] and people taking 600mg of DHA from Algae oil and 600mg from Fish oil have been shown to have the same raise in active DHA after a 28 week trial [7].

Ultimately, this shows us that the source of DHA and EPA is functionally irrelevant and what matters is the volume of each of the two fatty acids.

There are generally more studies involving testing fish oil rather than the benefits of algae oil, however, seeing as there are now multiple studies showing that they’re nutritionally equivalent we can hold these as valid for algae oil.

Is Algae Oil Better Than Krill Oil and Fish Oil?

In terms of nutrition, not particularly, however there are some benefits. For example, most algae is grown under purified and sterile conditions, meaning that it is free from toxins that can be found in fish oils. [8] There is also the benefit of avoiding the shellfish allergens of krill oil.

Algae oil also seems to has a lower rate of nausea against both fish and krill oils. It also doesn’t have an unpleasant aftertaste. [9]

Aside from in some cases it being slightly cheaper there are no benefits to fish oil over algae oil.

Taking Algae Oil

It is advised that people consume at least 1000mg of DHA and EPA combined daily [10], it should also be noted that supplementing for omega 3 can reduce blood pressure [11] meaning that anyone on blood pressure medications should see their doctor before taking fish oil or algae oil.

Benefits of Algae Oil

There are 5 areas in which algae oil is likely to be most beneficial, heart health, brain function, joint health, depression and eye health.

Heart health – Omega Oil supplements have been shown to reduce blood pressure [11], reduce cholesterol [12] and even reduce risk of stroke.

Brain Function – Omega oils are essential for brain development and maintaining brain health [2].

Joint Health – Algae oil has been shown to reduce inflammation [3] improve mobility [13], and reduce the reliance on painkillers across multiple studies on joint pain [14].

Depression – Recent studies have suggested that there may be a link between omega oils and depression. It has surfaced that a higher rate of DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids in the general population vs people diagnosed with depression [15].

Eye Health – Supplementing omega 3 has been shown to reduce eye fatigue, by decreasing your tear evaporation rate [16], this has also been shown to bare out similarly for people who wear contacts.

Algae Oil Vs Fish Oil Conclusion

In short Omega oils have a lot of potential benefits and it doesn’t really matter where you get them from as long as you get enough EPA and DHA. There are some minor benefits to choosing an algae oil over a fish oil, but nothing substantial beyond dietary concerns.

Related ----- > Best Combined Joint Supplements 2023


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