Volume 11, Number 2, Mars-Avril 2004
|Page(s)||112 - 115|
|Published online||15 March 2004|
The Ocean supplies more EPA and DHA than we can use
Professor Emeritus, Department of Food Science and Technology, Dalhousie University, Box 1000, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2X4, Canada
902 494 6030
902 420 0219
Nutraceutical is a modern marketing term and a source of much confusion, nowhere more obviously than in the field of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The world supply of vegetable oils includes an abundance of an unsaturated and omega 6 (or n-6) C18 fatty acid, linoleic, which has been declared for decades as “essential” for elongation to the C20 trienoic and tetraenoic n-6 fatty acids vital to the functioning of our body systems. It also keeps most of the vegetable oils liquid or semi-liquid. A frequent minor partner fatty acid is the C18 omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic (18:3n-3) which was sensitive to oxidation and therefore a nuisance in salad and frying oils and margarines. Wherever possible, it was reduced or eliminated. Within the last two decades we have realized that our conversion of 18:3n-3 to the “truly essential” 20:5n-3 (EPA) and especially 22:6n-3 (DHA), via 22:5n-3 (DPA), is poor, and we have depended on DHA from eggs and certain animal meats. Fish and shellfish for both were the most useful sources in our diets but were not recognized officially until 1996. Then U.K. Report No. 46 recommended eating fish twice a week, one being oily. More recently the American Heart Association has followed suit. This review shows how the microalgae of the oceans produce and concentrate generous supplies of these two highly desirable dietary fatty acids available from a truly “functional” food¡
Key words: omega 3 / photosynthesis / microalgae
© John Libbey Eurotext 2004
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