Originating from the borage family, this biennial plant with its striking purple flowers is native to western and southern Europe, northern Africa and south western Asia. In November 2009 the European Commission acknowledged that refined echium seed oil complies with the Novel Food Legislation granting it novel food status and therefore making Echiomega the most effective omega-3, -6 and -9 oil that is now available to vegetarians and vegans.
Echiomega is a vegetarian omega 3 which offers a unique combination of essential fatty acids and, unlike other oils, is particularly rich in ALA, SDA and GLA (Figure 1). Because of the shortfall in omega-3 intake and concerns regarding sustainability of many fish species there has been great scientific interest in finding sustainable sources of plant sourced omega-3 oils that are capable of significantly raising levels of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
SDA is easily converted to EPA
Because EPA is the major precursor to the formation of anti-inflammatory products known as eicosanoids, it is essential that a plant sourced oil is able to produce satisfactory amounts to ensure the health needs of the body are met. ALA is at the top of the omega-3 pathway and converts to EPA through several enzyme mediated steps. However, only 2-5% of ALA converts to EPA and this inefficiency is caused by the ‘rate limiting’ actions of
the enzyme Δ6-desaturase. Any oil that contains significant amounts of SDA will overcome this problem, as Δ6-desaturase is not needed to convert SDA to EPA. Indeed, it has been shown that the conversion of SDA to EPA is 5x more effective than that of ALA, the predominant omega-3 found in flaxseed oil.
The benefits of GLA
In addition to Echiomega’s high SDA content, this unique oil is also a significant source of GLA. Known for its anti-inflammatory actions in the area of skin and for its benefits with both premenstrual syndromes and health joints, the GLA in Echiomega adds to the unique anti-inflammatory properties of this novel oil.
The synergy between SDA and GLA
Both SDA and GLA are precursors to anti-inflammatory products through their conversion to EPA and DGLA. However these two important fatty acids work in synergy not only to increase the production of anti-inflammatory products, but through the ability of GLA to ensure higher levels of EPA are produced from SDA. Indeed, studies show that GLA and SDA combined result in significantly higher levels of EPA than SDA on its own. Furthermore, EPA in turn prevents the formation of inflammatory products arising from omega-6 AA via the conversion of DGLA offering excellent benefits for the function of the cardiovascular system and for optimal brain function .
The health benefits of Echiomega
Considering the unique anti-inflammatory properties of Echium seed oil, Echiomega provides numerous health benefits (Figure 3). The combination of ALA, GLA and SDA in Echiomega provide powerful anti-inflammatory actions that ensure optimal support of the cardiovascular, immune and inflammatory pathways.