Ahilflower oil offers you a vegetarian option for omega-3 fatty acids.
A new plant-based essential fatty acid dervived from Ahiflower (Buglossoides arvensis) oil is now available to healthcare practitioners and patients. Developed over 12 years from selected wild oilseed cultivars, the resulting dietary oil offers rich and biologically advanced essential fatty acids from a non-genetically modified crop.
A recent randomized, double-blind, controlled human clinical trial published in the British Journal of Nutritional Science showed that Ahiflower oil converts to omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in circulating cells up to four times more efficiently than flaxseed oil. This is due to its highly available omega-3 stearidonic acid (SDA) content (18–20 percent). SDA is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid with many cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory health benefits.
Ahiflower oil is also a source of anti-inflammatory gamma linolenic acid (GLA), and it offers a clean-label, vegan pathway to meeting omega-3 recommended daily intakes. Ahiflower oil combines the anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil and evening primrose or borage oil in a clean tasting product with no fishy burps, leading to greater patient compliance.
In addition, Ahiflower oil is now available to U.S. practitioners in vegan softgels through a range of brands and distributors.
A closer look at SDA
Dietary SDA is commercially available only from vascular plant origins, although it occurs naturally at low levels (0.5 to 2 percent) in edible oily fish. Metabolically, SDA is synthesized from dietary alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a more widely abundant omega-3 found in some seed and nut oils such as flax and chia.
ALA is converted to SDA by delta- six desaturase (Δ6D), an enzyme originating in the liver. While critical to the synthesis of long-chain omega- 3s, this enzymatic conversion is particularly inefficient in humans. SDA is then converted to the well-known omega-3 EPA. Cellular membranes require unsaturated fatty acids to be incorporated as phospholipids to maintain proper fluidity, porosity, and integrity and to serve as reservoirs of anti-inflammatory response mediators.
While SDA is itself a product of ALA metabolism, direct dietary SDA intake offers an efficient way to synthesize EPA from non-marine sources.
As such, SDA has been dubbed a “pro-EPA” omega-3 fatty acid as it bypasses the Δ6D rate-limiting step in humans that causes plant-derived ALA sources to convert poorly to the more elongated omega-3s of EPA, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Clinical studies have shown that while SDA does not convert to DHA to any significant degree, SDA converts to EPA in tissues and circulating cells up to five times more efficiently than ALA. Further, as SDA is less unsaturated than EPA and DHA, it is more stable, less prone to oxidation, and more amenable in applications where fishy off-flavors pose challenges to consumer acceptance.
Supply and sustainability
Recently, the FDA granted Ahiflower oil with “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status with no objections in the U.S. Ahiflower oil may be consumed in foods and dietary supplements at daily intake rates up to 2.25 grams SDA, or about 11 to 12 grams of Ahiflower oil per day.
An effective daily dose of Ahiflower oil is about 2.3 to 3 grams, providing the internationally recommended daily equivalent of 200 to 250 mg of EPA, as compared to the 5.6 to 11.2 grams of flaxseed oil needed to achieve the same EPA conversion benefit.
Moreover, Ahiflower oil has none of the ecological impact on marine fisheries that fish oil consumption causes. In fact, one acre of Ahiflower crop yields the same amount of oil as about 80,000 sardines.
In 2014 and 2015, one of the Peruvian anchoveta fisheries and the U.S. west coast sardine fishery were closed due to plummeting fish stocks. And the Peruvian fishery is responsible for supplying about 70 percent of the world’s omega-3 fish oil, as reported by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA (GOED).
This event underscored the growing need for an “all-in” approach to supplying omega-3 fatty acids from marine, algal, and plant sources.
Diverse new omega-3 nutritional sources are needed to address long- term demand and respond to consumers who cannot or will not eat marine animal products.
In 2013, the GOED reported that in 12 industrialized countries, 220 million consumers had stopped taking marine- derived omega-3 supplements due to sustainability concerns. This is a large and expanding patient base that healthcare practitioners can now address with Ahiflower oil.
SDA clinical evidence
SDA has an emerging body of scientific and clinical research, supporting health benefits that are aligned with and in some cases independent of omega-3 ALA, EPA, and DHA findings. This is true in both topical and ingestible SDA applications. Recent peer-reviewed references include the following benefits or activities associated with SDA:
- Anti-obesity. SDA can suppress adipocyte (fat cell) differentiation.2
- Anti-diabetes (Type 2). SDA can suppress Type 2 diabetes biomarkers.3
- Anti-inflammation. Plant SDA oil decreases intestinal prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) sequestration and reduces endogenous production of COX- derived arachidonic acid metabolites.4
- Coronary artery disease prevention. Plant SDA oil sources decrease cholesterol blood fractions and triglycerides, benefiting people at risk for CHD/CVD.5,6
- Anti-carcinogenesis. SDA reduces the growth of human breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. SDA also enhances the chemosensitivity of canine lymphoid tumor cells. And SDA enhances the anti-tumor activity of doxorubicin in human prostate cancer cell lines.7,8,9
Long-term prospective studies investigating the health effects of SDA consumption have yet to be conducted. However, preliminary studies indicate that SDA has beneficial effects on various biomarkers of disease, particularly relating to cardiovascular and inflammatory pathways. This only enhances the recognized anti- inflammatory benefits of Ahiflower oil’s gamma linolenic acid.
As healthcare practitioners respond to concerns about the sustainability, traceability, purity, and sensory appeal of omega-3 nutrition sources, Ahiflower is a novel and highly responsive omega-rich alternative.
Greg Cumberford is a 25 year botanical natural products industry executive and vice president of strategic initiatives with Nature’s Crops International. He can be contacted through ahiflower.com.
- Lefort N, et al. Consumption of Buglossoides arvensis oil is safe and increases tissue long-chain n-3 fatty acid content more than flax seed oil. J Nutr Sci. 2016;5(2):1-12.
- Rong Y, et al. Stearidonic acid suppresses adipocyte differentiation by decreasing adipogenic gene expression.FASEB J. 2011;25(1):777.33.
- Banz W. et al. Stearidonic Acid: Is There a Role in the Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus? J Nutr. 2012;142(3):635S-6404S.
- Surette M. Dietary omega-3 PUFA and health: stearidonic acid-containing seed oils as effective and sustainable alternatives to traditional marine oils. Mol Nutr Food Res.2013;57:748-759.
- Kuhnt K, et al. Dietary echium oil increases long-chain n-3 PUFAs, including docosapentaenoic acid, in blood fractions and alters biochemical markers for cardiovascular disease independent of age, sex, and metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2014;144(4):447-460.
- Harris WS. Stearidonic acid as a “pro-eicosapentaenoic acid. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2012;23(1):30-34.
- Subedi K, Yu HM, Newell M, et al. Stearidonic acid-enriched flax oil reduces the growth of human breast cancer in vitro and in vivo. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015;149(1):17-29.
- Pondugula RS, Ferniany G, Ashraf F, et al. Stearidonic acid, a plant-based dietary fatty acid, enhances the chemosensitivity of canine lymphoid tumor cells. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 2015;460(4):1002-1007.
- Trebelhorn CH, et al. Plant-based omega-3 stearidonic acid enhances antitumor activity of doxorubicin in human prostate cancer cell lines. J Cancer Res Ther. 2014;2(9):132-143.