ALGAL OIL Overview Information
Algal oil is an oil from marine algae that is rich in certain omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Certain algae species are grown in agriculture specifically to produce algal oil. It can be made from a variety of species, including Crypthecodinium, Nannochloropsis, Schizochytrium, Prototheca, and Ulkenia. The fatty acids in the oil might reduce swelling and help with brain function.
People use algal oil for improving thinking skills, physical performance, autism, ADHD, depression, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Don't confuse algal oil with specific types of algae, such as blue-green algae, brown algae, chlorella, or laminaria. Also, don't confuse algal oil with DHA or EPA from other sources such as fish oil, krill oil, or cod liver oil. These are not the same.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Taking DHA-enriched algal oil by mouth doesn't seem to improve cognitive function or reading ability in most children.
- Fractures. Taking algal oil by mouth doesn't seem to reduce the risk of fractures in older adults.
- Physical performance in elderly adults. Taking algal oil by mouth doesn't seem to improve muscle strength in older adults.
ALGAL OIL Side Effects & Safety
When taken by mouth: Algal oil rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is likely safe. It's been used safely for up to 4 years. Algal oil rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is possibly safe. It's been used safely for up to 3 months. Most side effects are mild and might include fishy burps and stomach symptoms.
Taking high doses of algal oil providing more than 3 grams of DHA and EPA daily is possibly unsafe. High doses might slow blood clotting and increase the chance of bleeding. The FDA recommends limiting intake of DHA and EPA to no more than 3 grams daily, with no more than 2 grams daily from a dietary supplement.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Algal oil that is rich in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is likely safe when taken by mouth when pregnant or breast-feeding. Algal oil is included in some prenatal vitamins and infant formulas as a source of DHA. If it is taken while breast-feeding, DHA levels in the breast milk increase. Most experts recommended consuming 300 mg of DHA daily while pregnant and breast-feeding. This can be met by eating 8-12 ounces of seafood weekly during pregnancy, and 4-8 ounces weekly while breast-feeding. Those who are nutrient deficient or who do not eat fish may need to take a supplement such as algal oil. There isn't enough reliable information to know if algal oil rich in EPA, another type of omega-3 fatty acid, is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Infants and children: Algal oil rich in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is likely safe for infants and children. Algal oil is included as a source of DHA in some infant formula. It is generally recognized as safe for this use. Algal oil has also been used safely for up to 4 years in children 7 years and older in daily doses that provide 30 mg/kg of DHA. There isn't enough reliable information to know if algal oil rich in EPA, another type of omega-3 fatty acid, is safe to use in infants and children. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Aspirin-sensitivity: Some algal oil contains DHA. DHA might affect your breathing if you are sensitive to aspirin.
Bleeding conditions: Some algal oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. DHA alone does not seem to affect blood clotting. But taking algal oil in doses providing more than 3 grams daily of EPA and DHA might increase the risk of bleeding.
Difficulty breathing in preterm infants: Some algal oil contains DHA. DHA might worsen breathing in preterm infants who already have difficulty breathing.
Diabetes: Some algal oil contains DHA. DHA might increase pre-meal blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Low blood pressure: Some algal oil contains DHA. DHA can lower blood pressure. This might increase the risk of blood pressure becoming too low in people who already have low blood pressure.
ALGAL OIL Dosing
Most algal oil products contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Some products also contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Algal oil is included in many different types of products as a source of DHA, including infant formula and prenatal vitamins. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.