Healthy growth despite communications challenges
Omega-3 fatty acids are fats commonly found in marine and plant oils. They are considered essential, meaning they cannot be synthesized by the human body, and are vital for normal metabolism. Omega-3 has benefits in terms of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, developmental disorders, psychiatric disorders and cognitive aging. The health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily EPA and DHA, were discovered in the 1970s by researchers studying the Greenland Inuit Tribe, who consumed large amounts of fat from fish, but displayed virtually no cardiovascular disease.
Although Omega-3 fatty acids have been known as essential to normal growth and health since the 1930s, awareness of their health benefits has dramatically increased since the 1990s. Today, Omega-3 products are a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing more than 15% annually.
There is certainly a buzz in the market with numerous advancements both at a business level and scientific innovations in delivery mechanisms enabling the development of new product categories. However a complex ingredient such as omega-3 presents a number of challenges. At Vitafoods 2013 HealthGauge spoke to Dr Atle Skattebøl, M.D., PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Epax and Greg Weatherhead, Lead Application Scientist, Croda. Both felt that consumers are aware that omega-3 is good for them, however for both consumers and many scientists, we are only now discovering exactly why the omega-3s are as beneficial as they are. The strength of the omega-3 market stems from strong scientific studies that gradually trickle down to consumers through the media.
Dr. Rob Winwood, Scientific Communications Manager, Nutritional Lipids, DSM Nutritional Products, shares his perspective on the ingredient and the market: