Rapid EPA uptake with algal oil

Microalgal EPA absorption and bioavailability is better than krill, argues David Hart, VP Marketing at Qualitas Health

Algae cells

A study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease showed that on a gram-by-gram basis, the algal oil in Almega PL offers better EPA omega-3 bioavailability than krill oil.1 Almega PL, manufactured by Qualitas Health, is a vegetarian, EPA-rich, polar lipid-structured omega-3 oil. Sourced from a researched strain of microalgae selected for its high level of EPA omega-3 and unique polar-lipid structure, Almega PL contains omega-3 fatty acids with phospholipids and glycolipids that provide superior absorption and digestibility.

Qualitas Health develops high-value vegetarian food supplements and pharmaceutical ingredients based on microalgae. With deep experience and expertise in algae cultivation and extraction gained from the biofuels sector, Qualitas has developed a unique and proprietary technology for strain selection, sustainable algae farming, harvesting and oil processing. This allows for the effective production of premium omega-3 algae oil for a wide range of applications.

Qualitas has developed a unique and proprietary technology for strain selection, sustainable algae farming, harvesting and oil processing

Study Background

The long-chain n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have well-researched human health benefits. For environmental sustainability, alternatives to fish and krill as sources of EPA and DHA are needed. Oil from the microalga Nannochloropsis oculata contains a significant amount of EPA conjugated to phospholipids and glycolipids and no DHA. Krill oil contains EPA and DHA conjugated to phospholipids. The study compared the appearance of fatty acids in the blood plasma of healthy humans after consuming a high fat meal accompanied by either algal oil or krill oil.


Ten healthy males aged 18–45 years consumed a standard high fat (55g) breakfast followed by either algal oil (providing 1.5g of EPA and no DHA) or krill oil (providing 1.02g of EPA and 0.54g of DHA). All participants consumed both oils in a random order and separated by a 7-day washout period. Blood samples were collected before breakfast (baseline) and at several time points up to 10 hours after taking the oils. Plasma fatty acid concentrations (g/mL) were determined by gas chromatography.


The concentration of EPA was higher with algal oil than with krill oil at several time points. The maximum concentration of EPA was higher with algal oil (P = 0.010) and both the area under the concentration curve (AUC) and the incremental AUC for EPA were greater with algal oil (P = 0.020 and 0.006). There was no difference between oils in the AUC or the incremental AUC for DHA.


Study researchers concluded that the algal oil in Almega PL results in greater concentration of EPA in plasma than krill oil, even taking into account the different EPA contents of the two oils. This difference, the researchers suggested, may relate to the different chemical constituents of the two oils, namely the presence of glycolipids. The results showed that the polar-lipid rich algal oil in Almega PL is a good source of EPA in humans, offering superior absorption and bioavailability of EPA compared with krill oil.


1. M.L. Kagan, et al., “Acute Appearance of Fatty Acids in Human Plasma – A Comparative Study Between Polar-Lipid Rich Oil from the Microalgae Nannochloropsis oculata and Krill Oil in Healthy Young Males,” Lipids Health Dis. 2013 Jul 15; 12: 102. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-12-102.