Nutrients 2013, 5(4), 1301-1315; doi:10.3390/nu5041301
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Alternative Sources of Omega-3 Fats: Can We Find a Sustainable Substitute for Fish?

1 Discipline of Nutrition, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand 2 Auckland Cancer Society Research Center, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand 3 Nutrigenomics New Zealand, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 March 2013; in revised form: 29 March 2013 / Accepted: 2 April 2013 / Published: 18 April 2013
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Abstract: Increasing demand for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) containing fish oils is putting pressure on fish species and numbers. Fisheries provide fish for human consumption, supplement production and fish feeds and are currently supplying fish at a maximum historical rate, suggesting mass-scale fishing is no longer sustainable. However, the health properties of EPA and DHA long-chain (LC) omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) demonstrate the necessity for these oils in our diets. EPA and DHA from fish oils show favourable effects in inflammatory bowel disease, some cancers and cardiovascular complications. The high prevalence of these diseases worldwide indicates the requirement for alternative sources of LC-PUFA. Strategies have included plant-based fish diets, although this may compromise the health benefits associated with fish oils. Alternatively, stearidonic acid, the product of α-linolenic acid desaturation, may act as an EPA-enhancing fatty acid. Additionally, algae oils may be a promising omega-3 PUFA source for the future. Algae are beneficial for multiple industries, offering a source of biodiesel and livestock feeds. However, further research is required to develop efficient and sustainable LC-PUFA production from algae. This paper summarises the recent research for developing prospective substitutes for omega-3 PUFA and the current limitations that are faced.
Keywords: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); omega-3; inflammation; dietary fatty acids; fish oils; stearidonic acid; algae

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lenihan-Geels, G.; Bishop, K.S.; Ferguson, L.R. Alternative Sources of Omega-3 Fats: Can We Find a Sustainable Substitute for Fish? Nutrients 2013, 5, 1301-1315.

AMA Style

Lenihan-Geels G, Bishop KS, Ferguson LR. Alternative Sources of Omega-3 Fats: Can We Find a Sustainable Substitute for Fish? Nutrients. 2013; 5(4):1301-1315.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lenihan-Geels, Georgia; Bishop, Karen S.; Ferguson, Lynnette R. 2013. "Alternative Sources of Omega-3 Fats: Can We Find a Sustainable Substitute for Fish?" Nutrients 5, no. 4: 1301-1315.

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