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Dispatches from SupplySide West 2013

Qualitas defends design of study comparing its algal EPA ingredient with krill oil

By Hank Schultz , 22-Nov-2013
Last updated the 22-Nov-2013 at 16:41 GMT

Omega-3 ingredients sourced from algae has been a rising trend in the marketplace, and EPA-only products are an even newer development.  Israel-based Qualitas Health is covering both bases with the launch of its new ingredient branded as Almega PL.

While Qualitas has business and science offices in Jerusalem, it is growing its algae and extracting the ingredient in West Texas, where it has access to ample sunshine and brackish groundwater for its open pond cultivation system. The ingredient is unique among algal omega-3s on the market in that it is an EPA-only product, and in that it has a polar lipid chemistry, a combination of phospholipids and glycolipids.

The company saw an opening in the market for a standalone EPA product, David Hart, vice president of marketing, told NutraIngredients-USA.

“EPA is a great functional omega-3, especially for adults. There are two indications for which this very robust science around EPA specifically.  They are mood and depression and cardiovascular health and trigycerides,” he said.

“EPA in the brain in brain starts a cascade of anti inflammatory reactions that ultimately help with symptoms of depression and mood. DHA doesn’t start those reactions, but they compete for the same receptors sites so having a high level, or an unopposed level of EPA for mood is much more effective,” Hart said.

Bioavailability advantages

Qualitas also touts the bioavailability of its ingredient in comparison to fish oil because of its polar lipid structure.  The company also sought to differentiate itself from the other big bioavailability omega-3s candidate—krill oil—with a comparison study.  This study has been criticized by some as being unfair because of the differing amounts of omega-3s given to study participants.  But Hart said Qualitas thought through the issue carefully and sought the best advice available in designing the study.

“We did a bioavailability study comparing the plasma uptake of
AlmegaPL with that of krill oil.  Dr Philip Calder, one leading omega-3s researchers in the world, helped with the study design,” he said.

 “We gave 1.5 grams of total omega-3s to study participants. The distribution of omega-3s was different with Almega PL and krill. Almega PL had 1.5 grams of EPA; with the krill it was 1 gram of EPA and 500 mg of DHA.

When you look specifically at the EPA uptake, while Almega PL had more EPA to start with, it had a relatively significantly higher uptake of EPA.  We think the study design was robust, and we are pleased with the result,” Hart said.

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