EPA-rich algae oil
The EPA-rich algae oil in our products comes from Phaeodactylum tricornutum, a diatom microalga grown at our own farm. Phaeodactylum is a primary producer of omega-3 EPA in nature, as the basis of the marine food chain in the ocean. Our EPA-oil naturally contains other healthy substances as well, including xanthophylls and fucoxanthin. We prefer to leave the oil in its most natural, unprocessed form. Hence, you might notice a seaweedy smell and the dark orange colour from the natural carotenoids in the oil. All of these substances add to the nutritional value of this precious oil. This ingredient is unique on the market and can only be found in Simris products. Nowhere else.
DHA-rich algae oil
The omega-3 DHA in our products comes from Schizochytrium sp. algae, which produce DHA naturally. We currently grow EPA algae at our farm. Pending expansion of the farm, we plan to begin our own production of DHA as well; in the meantime, our DHA oil is sourced from a European supplier. Good to know: There exist industrially evolved Schizochytrium sp. variants that produce both DHA and EPA through a process called mutagenesis. This process involves both chemical treatment and radiation. The ingredients produced by mutagenesis can be found widely among algae omega-3 brands on the market. Simris never uses these kinds of strains. We prefer the natural varieties of different algae rather than lab-created industrial variants. Hence, we blend the natural DHA oil extracted from Schizochytrium sp. algae with the natural EPA oil from the algae grown at our own farms.
Astaxanthin is a powerful, crimson-red antioxidant produced naturally by Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae as a protective substance. Astaxanthin from algae is what gives flamingos their pretty pink feathers, and is the reason why salmon and many seafoods are pink or reddish. Both the supplements and fish farming industries often use synthetic astaxanthin, which is cheaper than natural astaxanthin from algae and less potent. Needless to say, Simris uses only natural astaxanthin from Haematococcus algae, grown at our friends' facility in Gustavsberg in Sweden (who were in fact the first to develop this amazing marine carotenoid!).
Why oil blend
Why do we use an oil blend rather than pure algae oil? Algae oils are natural products and, as such, the amounts of EPA and DHA will vary per harvest. Since we need to ensure there is always the same amount of omega-3 EPA & DHA in each capsule, we blend the algal oils in correct amounts together with ALA-rich, cold-pressed, organic flaxseed oil. Apart from standardization of the levels of omega-3 EPA & DHA, this also increases the total, full-spectrum omega-3 content, which is important for a truly potent product. Also, the oil blend provides necessary antioxidants to protect the freshness of the omegas.
Organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil
The organic, cold-pressed flaxseed oil in our products comes from Gunnarshög Gård, an oilseed farm that has been owned by the Nilsson family since 1897, located just five minutes from our algae farm. Flaxseed oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the shorter omega-3-fatty acid found in land-based plants. By adding flaxseed oil to our EPA and DHA from algae, we get a full-spectrum product with an exceptionally high total amount of omega-3s. The extra amount of omega-3 ALA supports a healthy omega-6/omega-3 ratio. Due to its high omega-3 ALA content, we think that flaxseed oil is a superior choice compared to cheaper oils such as olive, canola or sunflower oil that are found in most other products on the market.
There is a tiny amount of sunflower oil in our products, which makes up no more than 1/10th of what's inside our softgel capsule. The sunflower oil is part of the DHA algae oil we currently source from a European supplier (see the section on "DHA-rich algae oil" for more details). Some people are concerned about the omega-6 content in sunflower oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential to our health; however, most modern diets result in an imbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio by providing too much omega-6 compared to omega-3. Therefore, it is advisable to increase our dietary omega-3 intake. Due to the tiny amount of sunflower oil and the high total omega-3 content in our products, there is no reason for concern. In fact, most healthy vegetable oils have a substantially higher total omega-6 content than our oil blend.
Omega-3s are delicate substances with powerful functionality and, as such, they are also sensitive and susceptible to degradation by oxidation. They can easily turn rancid when exposed to air, light and heat, or general aging. Apart from losing their functionality, the degradation products that result from aging omega-3 fats are not healthy. For this reason, omega-3 products need to be protected by antioxidants to preserve their integrity during their shelf life. To do this, we have chosen the best natural, vegan antioxidants available for our oil blend.
The vitamin E in our oil blends comes in the form of natural, mixed tocopherols. In fact, vitamin E is a healthy feature by its own merit, especially for your skin and nails.
Ascorbyl palmitate is a form of vitamin C. Some ascorbyl palmitates are made of animal ingredients, but ours is vegan. It contains a tiny amount of RSPO certified palm wax. There are legitimate concerns about the sustainability of palm oil and its byproducts. The amount of ascorbyl palmitate in our blend is negligible, as part of the DHA oil that we currently still source from a European supplier.
The rosemary extract we add to our oil blend comes from the Gunnarshög Gård family farm, just as our flaxseed oil does. It is a powerful antioxidant due to the natural aromatic compounds found in rosemary, and also helps improve the odor and taste of the oils.
Protecting our delicate omega-3 oils is of the utmost importance to ensure their functionality and prevent the formation of harmful degradation products. Omega-3 fatty acids are very sensitive to oxygen, light and heat, and can easily turn rancid. For this reason, omega-3 oils need to be protected. A high-quality softgel capsule is the best and most practical solution to ensure this important protection. The vegan softgel material of our capsules is an excellent barrier against oxygen, meaning that each daily serving of omega-3 will be fresh without having been exposed to air at any time.
We advise caution with omega-3 oils provided in bottles. These do not offer proper protection against air and oxygen, and therefore need to be consumed quickly after opening. We have also seen an increase in cellulose-based capsules on the market. While these are free from carrageenan (see our section on carrageenans for more details) and can work well for powders and certain liquids, they do not work as a proper barrier against oxygen for the delicate omega-3 oils. Should you want to take your omegas in pure oil form or if you choose to avoid carrageenan, we suggest you opt for a high-quality softgel product and cut the capsules open to ensure you are consuming fresh oil. And always check expiration dates diligently.
The glycerol in our softgel material acts as a humectant, a substance used to retain moisture. A gel is, in essence, a starch-based material that holds water molecules. In order to keep our softgels supple and strong and protect them from drying out and becoming brittle, the gel needs to hold its inherent moisture. This is the role of glycerin in the softgel shell of our capsules. Glycerol is a slightly sweet, syrupy liquid used in many different foods. Glycerol can come from both animal and vegetable sources. Needless to say, we have ensured the glycerol in our capsule shells is vegan.
Carrageenan (red algae extract)
Carrageenan is a vegan alternative to gelatin. The carrageenan in our softgel capsules helps the corn starch form a strong gel. The amount is tiny, but makes all the difference to create a natural, plant-based alternative to gelatin. Carrageenans are a specific group of gel-forming starches extracted from algae that are used widely in the food industry and are considered to be safe for consumption. As a natural product from edible algae, they have been used for hundreds of years as a stabilizer and thickener of foods. Technically, carrageenan is a dietary fiber.
Carrageenans exist in different forms and are either filtered from the algae with water or extracted with alkali (potash). They can be further processed in different ways, depending on their use in different foods. To date, there are no viable alternatives to carrageenan in vegan softgel capsules, which is why we use it in our products (just as any other vegan brand). For us, using an animal ingredient is not an option, especially considering that carrageenan is a safe and natural product from algae.
Carrageenan and safety
We are aware that there are concerns about the safety of carrageenan, in particular in natural health circles. For this reason, we have investigated the science thoroughly. While food-grade carrageenans have been shown to be safe through centuries of traditional use and numerous scientific studies, there are concerns in certain health circles. Degraded carrageenan (also called poligeenan) has indeed been found to alter the gut microbiota, and could trigger inflammatory bowel diseases. This has caused confusion regarding the safety of carrageenan as well. However, poligeenan (degraded carrageenan) is very different to the carrageenan used in vegan softgels.
Due to the concerns about carrageenan and its reputation in natural health circles, many brands choose to write “red algae extract”, “euchema seaweed” or similar in their ingredient list instead of the technical ingredient name, carrageenan. As we are aware that some people want to avoid carrageenans in their diets, we prefer to state “carrageenan" on our ingredient labels, for the sake of transparency. We don’t want to mislead you by using fancy names.
If you are concerned about the small amount of carrageenan present in the softgel material of our capsules, you can easily cut them open with a sharp knife and consume the oil directly. The choice should always be yours when it comes to decisions about your health, and we are here to help.
Sodium carbonate, also called ash or simply soda, is an acidity regulator. It is an alkaline salt widely used in the food industry and in baking. Sodium carbonate ensures the proper pH balance in the softgel capsule shell material.