Vegan omega: Free Spirit Group extends algae oil supplement line to infants and children
Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA are key to brain and eye development in children. Although, DHA is widely considered the master omega because the body can readily convert DHA to EPA and other omega-3 forms.
According to Dave Dane, managing director of the Free Spirit Group, algae oil is an alternative for the common omega-3 sources such as fish or krill oil.
“With these sources, there may be concerns with heavy metal pollution, overfishing, and unsustainable practices.
“Ultimately for parents, it’s the purity and safety that are the most important factors for their babies.”
megaOmega uses a wild strain of Chromista microalgae Schizochytrium sp, grown in the US. It is cultured in pure water in quality controlled indoor tanks to eliminate contamination.
The algae oil is then extracted using a patented water extraction method without the need for solvents, hexanes or alcohol.
“We're the only company that utilises this patented method, with other companies doing extraction in different ways using enzymes, solvents or mechanical. We use a gentle water pressure that allows the microalgae to release its oil,” Dane explained.
This extraction method ensures the product is 100% algae oil, free from contaminants and creates lesser waste.
According to Dane, there are other companies worldwide using this species of microalgae in their products. However, they tend to modify the omega-3 proportion such that the DHA and EPA ratio more closely resembles that of fish oil, which is typically 3:2.
For megaOmega, its microalgae oil is 100:1 in terms of DHA and EPA ratio.
The company recommends a serving size of 0.5mL for newborns to 2 years old (250mg/day), and 1mL for children 2 to 4 years old (500mg/day).
Dane said the intake of megaOmega for babies will not affect their diets which may also include formulas and foods that already come fortified with DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids.
“It is very difficult to take too much DHA. In a lot of therapies for adults, they're using up to 3000mg DHA in interventions.”
This algae oil for babies is an extension to its adult supplement, which comprise of liquid and soft gel algae oil.
Dane explained that the supplement for babies is similar to the adult version, except without the lemon peel oil, which is added for flavouring.
“For adults, some people consume the pure oil as it is, which has a slight marine taste, so we added organic lemon peel oil for flavouring. For babies, the algae oil is recommended to be mixed into formula, juice, or dairy products, which can mask the taste of algae oil.”
He told us the baby supplement came in a smaller bottle, with a calibrated dropper, making it easy for parents to give their kids the exact dose.
megaOmega’s supplements also contain natural tocopherol (vitamin E) as an antioxidant to ensure a shelf life of two years.
The Free Spirit Group only started selling algae oil in 2019. Before that, it was selling essential oils and seed oils such as argan, prickly pear and sea buckthorn. This business has since been acquired by Byron Bay Love Oils.
It retails on megaOmega’s online store, health food stores, organic stores, and skincare practitioners across Australia. The firm has seen online business doubled over the past year.
It also ships internationally, with interest from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. It is now looking for distributors to expand abroad.