While evidence for the efficacy of omega-3 remains unclear, the market for omega-3 supplements grew more than ten times its size from 2002 to 2014, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. There are several reasons for this heightened growth:
Science — Following the cultural shift, countries now spend more research dollars on the effects of natural supplements. These findings then generate even more research and heighten interest in these natural ingredients.
Medical Advancements — Researchers have learned a lot about infant neurodevelopment, injury recovery, and diseases in recent decades. Part of this new information suggests omega-3 and fatty acids could be highly beneficial.
National Diet Trends — Rising rates of obesity, cancer, and other health conditions have pushed consumers to eat better and adopt special diets. As a result, more consumers are using supplements to ensure they get a healthy daily dose of fatty acids, probiotics, and other nutrients that were almost unheard of thirty years ago.
Increasing Disease Rates — Instances of conditions such as dementia, arthritis, and age-related macular degeneration, as well as ADHD and cancer, have significantly increased. This increase has motivated consumers to find preventative measures and treatments. Omega-3s are one of these preventative substances.
Death Rates — A joint research project between Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated omega-3 deficiency deaths totaled an estimated 72,000 to 96,000, which makes it the country’s sixth biggest killer. In comparison, trans fats are the seventh most common killers in the country. These facts further drive the societal panic to find preventative measures and treatments for omega-3-related conditions.
Omega-3 Oil Market
Most consumers get their daily dose of 0.5g to 1.6g of omega-3s through omega-3-rich foods like fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, plant oils, and fortified foods. However, they’re supplementing their diets with oils. These include:
- Fish Oil and Cod Liver Oil — In fish, omega-3s are the free fatty acids phospholipids and triglycerides, which are easily absorbed by the body. Fish oils, however, generally contain mostly triglycerides unless it’s processed fish oil. This processing transforms omega-3s into ethyl esters, which are very difficult for the body to absorb. Newer supplements convert ethyl esters back into reformed triglycerides in an attempt to maintain ingredient efficacy.
- ALA Oil – Harvested from plants, ALA contains alpha-linolenic acid, which must be converted to EPA and DHA omega-3s.
- Krill Oil — Krill contains phospholipids and triglycerides, is low in contaminants, and is an effective antioxidant.
- Green-Lipped Mussel Oil — In addition to phospholipids and triglycerides, mussel oil contains the fatty acid eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA).
- Mammalian Oil — Triglycerides, phospholipids, and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) are all found in mammalian oil.
- Algal oil — It contains high concentrations of the omega-3 DHA and lacks environmental contaminants.
For nutritional supplement brands, in creating their own private label Omega-3 supplements these trends are important to understand what consumers are asking for.