Fish oil has been a health buzzword for many years, but DHA produced by microalgae – also called algal DHA – may work even better. Part of this may be that fish oil often contains saturated fats. Researchers have determined that algal DHA can significantly reduce triglycerides levels.
Microalgae DHA studied
Research from New York’s Rockefeller University has determined that DHA sourced from microalgae lowers serum triglycerides and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in overweight adults, and reduces VLDL particle size. This conclusion was confirmed by a new meta-study from the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, which found that algae-derived DHA lowers serum triglycerides in healthy persons.
In the Rockefeller University study, 35 overweight or obese adult volunteers took either two grams of algal DHA per day or a placebo. The DHA group had significantly lower triglyceride levels, and lower levels of VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
Furthermore, the particle sizes of all the cholesterol types within the DHA group were greater, including their HDL-, LDL- and VLDL-cholesterol. Other research has found that smaller sized cholesterol particles are associated with cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries.
Meta-study shows algal DHA increases good cholesterol
The newer meta-study from the Cleveland Clinic analyzed the results of eleven clinical studies that included 485 healthy volunteers. In these studies, triglyceride levels were significantly lower in the algal-DHA groups, and HDL/LDL levels were higher among healthy persons.
In one of these, researchers from Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich tested 114 men and women who were given either algal DHA or a placebo for 8 weeks. Their blood levels of LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol were tested along with their triglycerides levels. After the eight weeks, those who were given the algal DHA had an average of 23 percent reduction in triglycerides.
Meanwhile, the patients also had significant increases in HDL-cholesterol – which is considered the “good” cholesterol. The researchers concluded that the DHA supplementation improved their cardiovascular health.
Other research has established that the DHA derived from algae has the same beneficial effects and safety as DHA derived from fish oil. The body stores this long-chain fatty acid in the form of DHA, and converts DHA to EPA as needed.
DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Microalgae species Crypthecodinium cohnii, Nitzschia laevis and Schizochytrium spp. all produce algal DHA. The DHA microalgae are not genetically modified according to the leading producer. Algal DHA is also good for the brain according to other research.
Bernstein AM, Ding EL, Willett WC, Rimm EB. A Meta-Analysis Shows That Docosahexaenoic Acid from Algal Oil Reduces Serum Triglycerides and Increases HDL-Cholesterol and LDL-Cholesterol in Persons without Coronary Heart Disease. J Nutr. 2012 Jan;142(1):99-104.
Neff LM, Culiner J, Cunningham-Rundles S, Seidman C, Meehan D, Maturi J, Wittkowski KM, Levine B, Breslow JL. Algal docosahexaenoic acid affects plasma lipoprotein particle size distribution in overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2011 Feb;141(2):207-13.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.