Omega-3 fatty acids from micro-algae
It is scientifically proven that Omega-3 have fatty acids beneficial to human health. Fish is considered to be a particularly good source of these substances. But there are many people who consume no animal products and fish production and fish catch is also a burden on the environment. An alternative vegan source for healthy Omega-3 fatty acids may be micro algae.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential substances for the human diet. They are so essential to life and cannot be manufactured by the body itself. Especially fish is a good Omega-3 source. But there is also a plant-based, eco-friendly Alternative: micro-algae. A new study by researchers shows the ends of the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg (MLU).
Nutrients for human consumption
As the MLU in a recent communication, writes, there are micro-algae already for several decades the focus of research – first, as a raw material for alternative fuels, in recent times, but increasingly as a source of nutrients for the human diet.
They are produced mainly in open ponds in Asia. This represent a risk for possible contamination. In addition, some types of algae in closed systems, in so-called Photobioreactors.
“We wanted to find out whether micro algae, produced in Germany in the area of photobioreactors, is an environmental friend could be a more economical source of important nutrients than fish,” explains Susann Schade from the Institute for Agricultural and nutritional Sciences MLU. So far, this production was compared to the method often only with the cultivation in ponds, and cut off in the process due to higher pressures on the environment are often worse.
“How high are these environmental effects are the production of Algae for human consumption, however, has hardly been investigated, especially not under the climatic conditions as they prevail in Germany,” such a Pity.
Significant Environmental Impacts
In their recently in the journal “Journal of Applied Phycology” published study, the researchers developed researchers therefore model, in order to determine the site-specific environmental effects.
“We have compared the CO2-balance of nutrients from microalgae and fish. In addition, we have analyzed how both of these food sources, the levels of acidification or Nutrient in the aquatic favor,“ explains Dr. Toni Meier, Director of the innovation office nutriCARD at the MLU.
The scientists were able to show that the micro-algae cultivation, in principle, comparable environmental costs such as fish production. “But if we include the environmental effects on the available amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, so fish from aquaculture performs especially bad,” explains Schade.
The advantage of algae cultivation is according to the experts, the low area consumption, even infertile soils can be used. In contrast, need to have both open ponds as well as the cultivation of animal feed for aquaculture very large areas.
In particular, in Germany the popular species of fish such as salmon and Pangasius, which are mostly derived from aquaculture and are therefore associated with considerable environmental pressures. However, the Alaska Pollock caught in the wild shows for all environmental indicators, lower values than the micro algae.
Significant relief for the world’s oceans
“Micro-algae should not and can not replace fish as a food completely. But if micro-algae as a food would establish, we would have an additional excellent eco-friendly source of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids,“ says Meier.
The algae are already used now as a dietary Supplement in powder or tablet form and as an additive to foods such as pasta or cereal. For one, the already existing gap in the global supply of Omega-3 could be fatty acids is reduced and, on the other, this would mean a significant relief for the world’s oceans. (ad)