DHA Vegetarian 90 Veggie softgels by NOW Foods

DHA Vegetarian 90 Veggie softgels

DHA Vegetarian - 90 Veggie Softgels
Item catalog number: 1609

NOTE: David is not recommending this particular product until we learn more about the strain of algae used. I do recommend DHA in general.

This product is made from DHAid™ Algal Oil (from Ulkenia sp.) by the company Lonza Ltd. from Switzerland. Ulkenia sp. consists of 35-40% DHA.

Here is some company history. Nutrinova/Celanese (Germany) produced a DHA-rich oil from Ulkenia sp. sold under the name of DHActive. In 2005 Lonza Ltd. (Switzerland) acquired Nutrinova’s DHA business and sells the DHA oil (under the name DHAid) as a vegetarian source of omega-3 DHA which was since approved to be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in January 2010 [220, 221].

So why the concern? The following comes from the chapter:

ALGAE-DERIVED POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS: IMPLICATIONS FOR HUMAN HEALTH
by Ruairi Robertson, Freddy Guihéneuf, Matthias Schmid, Dagmar B. Stengel, Gerald Fitzgerald, Paul Ross and Catherine Stanton

In this section (pasted below), they describe commercial aspects of vegetarian DHA production. As you can see if you read this, we do need to to be concerned about genetic engineering and other factors when we select a vegetarian DHA product.

Personally, I would rather just use these products (even though I am vegetarian):

These superfoods might have lower DHA concentrations but they are much more natural, as will be clear when you read the info below.

3.3.2. Strain Development: Selection, Mutagenesis and Metabolic Engineering (book chapter)

Apart from metabolic reorientation by modifying growth conditions or applying external stresses, strain selection, mutagenesis and metabolic engineering are other promising approaches to increase the production of long-chain PUFA in microalgae. Strain selection - Algal strains suitable for commercial production will need to be able to tolerate variations in temperature, light, salinity and pathogen load, and native strains are unlikely to have all of the characteristics needed for either industrial production. 26  Ruairi Robertson, Freddy Guihéneuf, Matthias Schmid et al.

There is therefore a need to domesticate wild-type strains through extensive breeding and selection for generation of both adequate yield and quality of biomass [264]. Thus, it is primordial to isolate and select algal strains that grow quickly and produce high levels of PUFA partitioned in TAGs, if possible. In this context, the marine microalga I. galbana has been the subject of a phenotypic selection programme (without artificial mutagenesis, involving two stages of single selection) for an EPA-rich strain by Molina-Grima et al. (1995) [265]. EPA content continuously increased from 2.4% dry weight of the “parent” culture to an average value of 5.3% (in the final stage).

Mutagenesis - In combination with selection, mutagenesis can also be used in order to obtain a substantially increased production of PUFA [242, 266] and/or TAGs [267]. Using UV-light as a mutagenic agent, an isolate strain of P. lutheri was obtained, which contained EPA and DHA levels (in % dry biomass) respectively 32.8% and 32.9% higher than those of the control native strain [266]. Similarly, a chemical mutagenesis approach has been applied by Iskandarov et al. (2011) on the AA-rich microalga P. incisa which resulted in selection of a mutant deficient in AA and rich in DGLA and, thus, ∆5-desaturase defective [242].

Metabolic engineering - Genes encoding key enzymes involved in lipid metabolism pathways and PUFA biosynthesis have been identified in several microalgal species. For example, algal genes coding for the acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACCase), catalyzing the first committed step in fatty acid biosynthesis, the carboxylation of acetyl-CoA to malonyl-CoA, and the FAS complex; also, acyltransferase genes involved in phospholipid and TAG formation have been identified in several species and characterized using heterologous sytems [194]. Some genes encoding for elongases and desaturases involved in omega-3 PUFA biosynthesis have also been isolated, such as the elongase (pavELO) and the ∆4-desaturase (Pldes1) from P. lutheri [198, 199]. Based on such recent progress, it may be possible in the future to modify the metabolic pathway for the more efficient production of high-value products such as PUFA in microalgae [201]. Indeed, recent developments in marine algal genomics and genetic transformation tools for several microalgal species [268] allow the consideration of metabolic engineering approaches to enhance growth performance, increase or modify lipid content and fatty acid composition [269]. One such approach for microalgae may be an increased production of EPA or DHA by over-expressing at least some of their elongases and desaturases; and/or to inhibit PUFA degradation caused by β-oxidation [227].


DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is a major building block of cell membranes. It can be found in high concentrations especially in the brain, nerve tissue, and in the retina of the eye and is therefore essential for the development and maintenance of these cells and organs throughout life. NOW® Vegetarian DHA is produced from naturally occurring microalgae via a patented fermentation process. Vegetarians and people who do not eat fish have a limited intake of DHA, so the use of NOW® Vegetarian DHA offers an attractive option in order to achieve optimal intake.*

Supplement Facts

Serving Size: 2 Softgels
Servings Per Container: 45
Amount Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories   10    
Calories from Fat   10    
Total Fat   1 g   2%*  
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)   400 mg    

Other Ingredients:

DHAid™ Algal Oil (Ulkenia sp.) blend [with sunflower oil and natural mixed tocopherols (from soy)] and Vegetarian Softgel Capsule [modified potato starch, glycerol, potato starch, sorbitol, euchema seaweed, mono & diglycerides of fatty acids, carnauba wax].

Not manufactured with wheat, gluten, milk, egg, fish, shellfish or tree nut ingredients. Produced in a GMP facility that processes other ingredients containing these allergens.

Caution: For adults only. Consult physician if taking medication or have a medical condition. Keep out of reach of children.

Do Not Eat Freshness Packet. Keep in Bottle.

Store in a cool, dry place after opening. Please Recycle.

DHAid™ is a purely vegetarian omega-3 DHA and a trademark of Lonza Ltd, Switzerland.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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