Forget Fish Oils. Are Algae Oils an Omega-Rich Solution to Overfishing?
Image via: TheAgonist.org
To fish oil or not to fish oil has been the ongoing question among wellness- and eco-minded folks such as myself. For good reason, too. The benefits from omega-3 supplements are hard to give up: healthy skin, hair and joints in addition to their ability to fight heart disease, Alzheimer's, and depression. But the benefits hardly justify the fact that our fondness for fatty acids are threatening our ecosystems and depleting our fish populations.
Have you heard of menhaden? Nor have I--nor most Americans for that matter. As it turns out, the small forage fish feed off of algae keeping the Atlantic and Gulf coasts clean--also helping prevent underwater dead zones. The fish is so important that fortunately, its protection is more recently being taken seriously. Thirteen out of fifteen Atlantic states have banned a Houston-based fish oil company called Omega Protein, from harvesting in their waters. You guessed it; menhaden is one of the ocean's most omega-rich sources of protein putting it on the most wanted list when it comes to commericial fishing.
Thanks to biotechnology, however, fish oil fiends could be reaching for a more eco-friendly alternative in the future. Martek, a Maryland biotech company, got to the root of fatty acid efficiency by going straight to the source that gives menhaden it's healthy qualities: omega-rich algae! (I guess that, "You are what you eat" saying even applies to fish!) The company is in the midst of marketing life'sDHA, "an algal omega-3 supplement rich in DHA, which is especially beneficial to the brain."
Does this mean we 'Huggers can have our omega supplements and stay green, too?