New Sources and Applications for Omega 3 Oils

Omega 3 oils were already simmering as a trend a dozen years ago. Newer sources and applications technology are driving interest in these healthful fats even higher.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D.

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Frutarom Industries Ltd. (, Haifa, Israel, brings to the omega-3 movement its unique salvia seed-derived oil, which contains more than 50 percent ALA. Salvia is a member of the sage genus. The oil is odorless, stable and well suited to any functional food applications.

On this side of the border, Nardone Bros. Baking Inc. (, Wilkes-Barre, PA teamed up with Nu-Mega Ingredients (, Chicago, to develop a line of pizzas for children. Nu-Mega Ingredients produces microencapsulated omega-3 DHA from dolphin-safe tuna. Nu-Mega ensures low residual levels of pesticides and other harmful contaminants.

For those want eco-health with their physical health, Sanmark LLC. (, Greensboro, N.C., promotes its PureMega line of oils cold-pressed from non-GMO seeds, without the use of solvents. The company uses a production system designed to prevent contact of the freshly pressed oil with light and oxygen to avoid oxidation of the fragile seed oils," said David Chance, sales and marketing manager for Sanmark. "In addition to the PureMega quality system, all of our manufacturing and refining processes are kosher and certified by Ecocert and OCIA as meeting organic standards of the EU and USDA/NOP."

Expanding Choices

The Wright Group, (, Crowley, La., which supplies custom premixes, demonstrates its expertise in the application of functional ingredients. Probiotic Soy Yogurt Smoothies, enhanced with DHA, vitamins and minerals, and an omega-3 whole grain school lunch pizza are examples that showcase Wright's high-quality microencapsulated ingredients.

VitaDHA is a deodorized, water-soluble form of DHA offered by Blue California (, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. The nano-encapsulated oil is derived from fish, and is available in both powder and liquid form. It's ideally suited to all food and beverage applications.

Cognis (, Cincinnati, a worldwide supplier of innovative specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients, has added Omevital omega-3 fatty acids to its ingredient family. "With scientifically proven health benefits, these ingredient brands focus on major aspects of human health and deliver attributes that can be vitally important for the successful marketing of functional foods and supplements," says Albert Strube, Ph.D., director global growth product lines at Cognis Nutrition & Health. "They add both value and consumer appeal to customers' products."

Coromega (, Vista, Calif., provides a unique omega-oil emulsion with the EPA and DHA protected and stabilized with vitamins C and E. The patented formulation process ensures the stability of the fish oil and the potency of the ingredients.

All essential omegas (omega-3 and omega-6 classes) are derived from plants. Fish derive omega oil from seaweeds and algae or from the creatures that feed off them. Some nuts and seeds contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which can be metabolized to both EPA and DHA, though not very efficiently in humans. The major dietary sources of ALA are soy and canola oils, flax seed, and walnuts.

Olive oil already has a reputation for tasting great and potentially reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Italica Imports (, Scarsdale, N.Y., one of the leading producers and distributors of Spanish olive in the U.S., provides extra virgin olive oil enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s from hake, salmon and codfish are incorporated into the oil during the bottling process.

Researchers at Martek Biosciences Corp (, Columbia, Md., identified a strain of algae naturally rich in DHA. The result is Life'sDHA   a clear, amber-colored oil rich in DHA. Life'sDHA is used in functional foods and beverages, infant formula (more than 90 percent of all U.S. infant formulas use Life'sDHA) and supplements. The algae can also be dried prior to DHA extraction for use in animal feed, an effective way to enrich foods such as meat, eggs and milk.

Suitable for use in traditionally vegetarian foods and beverages, Life'sDHA is certified both kosher and halal, and is used in an array food products. Unilever's Breyers Yogurt (, Boulder, Co., encourages consumers to "boost your brain" by eating its Smart! brand yogurt enhanced with Life'sDHA.

One of the more unusual new ways for consumers to get their omega comes from Natural and Organic Food Group Inc. (, Charlottesville, Prince Edward Island. The company recently obtained USDA approval for a full line of omega 3 deli products. The hot dogs, sliced and bulk Ham,kielbasa, bologna and bacon are marketed under the company's PEI PORK brand. In addition to having a high omega 3 content, the products claim a perfectly balanced amount of omega 6 as well.

Speaking of pork-related omega, Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods Corp., through its Health Technology and Specialty Products divisions (, entered the omega ingredient business with the Eterna brand of pure, tasteless and odorless Omega-3 fish oils. The company has shown Eterna's efficacy not only in meat applications but products such as cookies and beverages, too.

Another new entry into the omega field is ingredient giant Cargill (, Minneapolis. Its new omega ingredient is designed for higher concentrations and "promises to be an innovative alternative to existing omega 3 products in the area of flavor." According to company literature, preliminary development studies show that incorporation of up to 150 mg of Cargill's omega 3 per serving can be added to products with no discernible change in flavor or shelf life.

Overall, omega-3 products are projected to top $7 billion in the next five years. Consumers are the driving force, having a long familiarity with omega from the numerous fish oil studies. Surveys by the Nutrition Business Journal, indicate 60 percent of the U.S. population is "aware of Omega 3s." As science plumbs deeper into the health benefits of omega oils, technology such as microencapsulation makes it easier for processors to take advantage of those benefits. Clearly, one doesn't have to fish very deep waters to haul in a net of omega-3 products.

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