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3 ingredient alternatives to fish oil

With a sustainability crisis leading to concerns with the South American anchovy harvest, supplement company supply-chain managers should look to diversify sources to get the omega-3s DHA and EPA.

Todd Runestad

December 11, 2023

2 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Algae.
  • Ahiflower.
  • Hemp.

The premier anchovy fish stock off the coast of South America, a $3.5 billion concern that supplies much of the world’s fish oil for supplements, is in a scarcity crisis. The catch was called off entirely two years ago for sustainability purposes. But there are other sources of omega-3 oils in the sea, like Alaska or Norway or menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico.

More to the point, there are other sources of the two predominant omega-3s, DHA and EPA, and they can be found out of the sea. To diversify your supply, go fishing here:

Algae. Nature’s miraculous single-cell chemical factories can be grown quite sustainably, whether grown in ponds about the width and many times the length of Olympic-size swimming pools or in enclosed clear horizontal pipes or even indoor fermentation tanks. Algae has been used to create a host of ingredients in the supplements industry, such as carotenoids like astaxanthin or whole algae ingredients like spirulina or chlorella. In supply of omega-3s, algae already has a dominant place in the supply of DHA to be added to infant formulas, and is an increasingly important source of omega-3s for supplements with the addition of algal strains that can produce EPA as well. With supply concerns over anchovy stocks, algae sources offer the promise of premium quality at a steady price point.

Ahiflower. Derived from Buglossoides arvensis seeds that house the omega-3 stearidonic acid, ahiflower shows promise to become effective as well as a sustainable source of omega-3s. Regeneratively grown, fully traceable, vegan-friendly and 100% natural, ahiflower oil boosts circulating omega-3 EPA levels quite efficiently. It also provides a richer array of anti-inflammatory omega-3 and omega-6 metabolites than either EPA or DHA alone. Ahiflower oil’s natural anti-inflammatory GLA content, for example, is comparable to that of evening primrose oil. And it has excellent sensory (taste/aroma) and superior stability versus either fish or algal oils.

Hemp. Cannabis sativa from the non-intoxicating hemp plant can use all the help it can get, what with the crashing and burning of the CBD market. For hemp to see its full potential, the entirety of the plant must be used (think pigs—everything is used except the squeal). To that end, 30 grams of hemp seeds contain about 2,600 mg of the omega-3 ALA. This will convert to as much as 260 mg EPA (and as little as 26 mg) and between 13-130 mg DHA. Still, ALA remains healthy in its own right for cardio and cognitive purposes.

About the Author(s)

Todd Runestad

Content Director, NaturalProductsInsider.com, Natural Products Insider

Todd Runestad has been writing on nutrition science news since 1997. He is content director for NaturalProductsInsider.com and Natural Products Insider digital magazines. Other incarnations: supplements editor for NewHope.com, Delicious Living!, and Natural Foods Merchandiser. Former editor-in-chief of Functional Ingredients magazine and still covers raw material innovations and ingredient science.

Connect with me here on LinkedIn.


Todd writes about nutrition science news such as this story on mitochondrial nutrients, innovative ingredients such as this story about 12 trendy new ingredient launches from SupplySide West 2023, and is a judge for the NEXTY awards honoring innovation, integrity and inspiration in natural products including his specialty — dietary supplements. He extensively covered the rise and rise and rise and fall of cannabis hemp CBD. He helps produce in-person events at SupplySide West and SupplySide East trade shows and conferences, including the wildly popular Ingredient Idol game show, as well as Natural Products Expo West and Natural Products Expo East and the NBJ Summit. He was a board member for the Hemp Industries Association.

Education / Past Lives

In previous lives Todd was on the other side of nature from natural products — natural history — as managing editor at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He's sojourned to Burning Man and Mount Everest. He graduated many moons ago from the State University of New York College at Oneonta.


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