Calanus finmarchicus, a new source of omega-3 fatty acids – Environmentally responsible and good for our health
OUD-BEIJERLAND – Calanus oil is a new and special form of omega-3 fatty acids and is only recently available as a dietary supplement.
Calanus oil is obtained from Calanus finmarchicus (zooplankton) from the clean waters of the Northern Atlantic. This oil is special because the omega-3 fatty acids are in the form of wax esters and because of its red colour.
Calanus oil has long been used as a food source in Atlantic salmon farming. For the first time, this special oil is now available in the United Kingdom as an active ingredient in a dietary supplement.
Calanus finmarchicus is present in very large numbers in the North Atlantic and adjacent seas. The biomass of zooplankton in northern seas is estimated at 300 million tons, many times larger than the biomass of fish in these waters. Only a minute quantity of 0.1% is harvested annually. The catch is under the supervision of the Norwegian government.
Healthy for us
The wax esters in calanus oil (esters of a fatty acid and a fatty alcohol) contain not only the well-known polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), but are also rich in stearidonic acid (SDA). The omega-3 fatty acid SDA hardly occurs in fish oil.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition suggests eating a minimum of 450mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids per day such as EPA and DHA.
The form of the omega-3 fatty acids is at least as important as the quantity taken. Calanus oil contains a form of omega-3 fatty acids that is well-absorbed and has specific, beneficial properties for our health.
In a comparative study, as much EPA+DHA was absorbed from calanus oil as from a concentrated fish oil supplement, despite the fish oil’s twice higher content of EPA+DHA.
Fatty acid sensors in the intestines
The difference in function between omega-3 fatty acids from calanus oil and fish oil is probably due to the slower digestion of wax esters than that of ethyl esters or triglycerides from fish oil. In the digestion of wax esters, free fatty acids are probably mainly released lower in the intestines. These intestinal regions are richest in receptors that react to free fatty acids, the so-called fatty acid sensors FFA4 (Free Fatty Acid receptor 4), also known as GPR120.
Research into these receptors is relatively new and has increased significantly in a short time. A reduced function of FFA4 may be an important factor in obesity, insulin resistance and inflammatory processes.
EPA, DHA and SDA are potent activators of FFA4, suggesting the action of calanus oil starts already in the intestines.
Calanus oil naturally contains the antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ which gives the red colour to the oil and is good for the stability of the oil.
Safe for the environment
The origin of this calanus oil is known precisely. There is no question of overfishing.
The fishery is conducted in a sustainable and ecologically sound manner and yields virtually no unnecessary by-catch. Because the Calanus finmarchicus is low in the food chain and is caught in clean waters, the oil contains almost no heavy metals, PCBs and other contaminants. This contrasts with other marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
The extraction of calanus oil takes place without any chemical treatments.
Debut in the European Union
In December 2017, the European Union authorised the use of Calanus finmarchicus oil as an ingredient in dietary supplements.
Springfield has the scoop in the EU and is the first to introduce NourSea calanus oil. This omega-3 fatty acid supplement is now available in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
NourSea calanus oil is available at pharmacies and health food stores in packs of 60 capsules containing 500 mg of oil per capsule.