The Florida-based botanical extract manufacturer is best known for supplying saw palmetto, which grows wild in that state. But the company is now following the footsteps of Israeli ingredients firm Frutarom, which recently began supplying salvia seed oil as a potent source of the omega-3 ALA (alpha linoleic acid).
Although ALA is a less bioavailable form of omega-3 than DHA, it does fill a niche in the market for people concerned with fish-derived products.
Salvia oil contains over 60 percent ALA, according to Valensa, slightly higher than the more popular botanical ALA source, flaxseed oil, which has over 50 percent. The company cites lower rates for other oils in the ALA category: fish oil (unrefined), 30 percent; cranberry, 28 percent; blueberry 22 percent.
The omega-3s, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA are used as supplement ingredients to support cognitive function, eye and cardiovascular health. EPA and DHA are derived from marine sources such as oily fish, and DHA can also be derived from microalgae, which ALA is derived from plant sources.
ALA is a shorter long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that is a precursor to DHA and has to be converted by the body before it can be used. Some of the cognitive, heart health and antioxidant benefits are lost in the conversion process elongating ALA's carbon chain.
Valensa says its proprietary CO2 extraction process ensures Tresalbio's stability. The extract contains natural antioxidants such as caffeic acid and tocopherols, which Valensa then supplements with its proprietary botanical O2B peroxidation blocker system to resist rancification. The company claims both techniques combine to create a longer shelf life, reduce the risk of rancidity, and improve taste and odor.
One the primary benefits of Tresalbio is that it is a vegetarian source of omega-3, according to Valensa.
"…Vegetarians and vegans, who number in the millions, will only consider plant-based sources for supplemental nutrition," said Valensa president Rudi Moerck.
But for Moerck, there are other advantages of salvia extract over traditional plant-based sources of omega-3.
"For an industry that wants to deliver health and that is increasingly moving to more wholesome, all-natural products, the prevalence of linseed or flaxseed oils as the main sources of plant-based omega-3s is a contradiction," said Moerck.
"These oils are used elsewhere as highly reactive film-forming, functional polymers in oil based house paint. They are often extracted for consumers using environmentally questionable chemical solvents, and they are inherently unstable meaning, at best, they will lose efficacy and have a negative taste and aroma."
Known as 'chia' to the Aztecs, salvia seed, is one of the original foods of the New World. A highly prized staple in the Aztec diet, chia was valued for the energy and vigor.