Microalgae are microscopic algae. They are single-celled algae that may exist independently or in colonies. They are comprised of the unicellular algal species, e.g. green algae, diatoms, and dinoflagellates. Microalgae produce a variety of compounds to help in the adaptation and survival of different environmental conditions. Many marine microalgal strains have oil contents of between 10–50%, (w/w) and produce a high percentage of total lipids (up to 30–70% of dry weight). Strains from the Schizochytrium limacinum contain a DHA percentage of between 30–40% of total fatty acids.

Marine microalgae are a natural source of fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. Currently, the principal source of EPA and DHA for human consumption is marine fatty fish such as salmon, mullet and mackerel. However, global catches have been in decline since the late 1980s and the number of overfished stocks has been increasing exponentially since the 1950s. Furthermore, the presence of chemical contaminants (e.g. mercury) in fish oil can be harmful to consumers. In addition, fish oil is not suitable for vegetarians and the odour makes it unattractive. For all these foresaid reasons an alternative source is developed and scientific analyzed.

Microalgae are the initial EPA and DHA producers in the marine food chain and can naturally grow fast under a variety of autotrophic, mixotrophic and heterotrophic culture conditions with high long chain ω-3 fatty acid production potential. Other microalgal products are used as food additives, animal feed (including aquaculture), vitamins, pigments, pharmaceutical compounds, cosmetics and potentially as a biofuel source.

Microalgae vs. phytoplankton:

Microalgae are members of the larger group of phytoplankton. However, there are references wherein microalgae and phytoplankton are considered synonymous. They are important in the ecosystem as they serve as the primary producers of an aquatic food chain.

Microalgae vs. macroalgae:

Microalgae and macroalgae are the two major types of algae based on cellularity. Microalgae are unicellular algal species that may either live singly or in colonies. Macroalgae are multicellular algal species. They are commonly called seaweeds because they can grow profusely at any time.

Algae omega-3 vs. fish omega-3

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is Omega-3 fatty acid, and it is naturally occurred in cold-water ocean fish (including salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish etc. ), marine foods (krill etc.) and algae.

Fish and marine foods aren’t able to produce Omega-3, so they get it by eating microalgae. The problem with depending on fish for omega 3 fatty acids is that ocean fish populations have been gutted from overfishing and also ocean fish may be contaminated with heavy metals and pollutants.

Fortunately, studies show that seaweed and algae deliver the same omega 3 levels as fish, but it is absorbed by the body almost twice as efficiently as from fish or krill oil.

This means that if you consume an equal amount of omega-3s from each source, your body will get more out of the algae oil with a very high brain-friendly ratio, than it would from the fish or krill oil.

Fish type

USDA (2013). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Every Micoil plus Omega-3 bottle is equal to :

(bottle of 255ml owns 2400mg Omega-3 / 100gr)


1,41 gr Omega 3 / 100 gr of sardines, which are equal to 20 fish filets

80 sardine fillets


0,80 gr Omega 3 / 100 gr of anchovies, which are equal to 28 fish filets

197 anchovy fillets


1,03 gr Omega 3 / 100 gr of salmon, which are equal to 2 fish filets

11 salmon fillets

With the growth of biomarine technology, algal oils have been seen as advantageous in terms of sustainability, sensory properties, and quality of Omega-3 oil supplementation.

Algal oil also comes with the added benefits of avoiding the depletion of fish population and the contamination of mercury and other toxins.

As a conclusion, fish oils are still a good option, but for Vegans, or those who are opting for a more environmental food product, algal oils can be a better option.

Algae Omega-3 & brain function

Algae Omega-3 (DHA – docosahexaenoic acid) works in the brain by supporting its neurons.

Ample DHA in the brain ensures neurons are sufficiently fluid and flexible, which is necessary for them to communicate with one another. Good communication between neurons is foundational to healthy brain function, good cognition, a brain that is calm and alert, for proper brain development in children, and for healthy brain aging in adults.

DHA also inhibits brain’s cell degeneration. DHA has also been shown to improve both short-term and long-term memory and at the same time it reduces brain inflammation. Reducing brain inflammation is important because this is at the root of so many common problems, including depression, fatigue, memory loss, and brain fog. Brain fog is responsible for the rapid brain aging, raising the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Published scientific papers for microalgae

  1. Khan, M. I., Shin, J. H., & Kim, J. D. (2018). The promising future of microalgae: current status, challenges, and optimization of a sustainable and renewable industry for biofuels, feed, and other products. Microbial Cell Factories, 17(1).
  2. 10.2 What are Algae? EGEE 439: Alternative Fuels from Biomass Sources. (2018). Retrieved December 15, 2019, from website:
  3. Tocher DR, Betancor MB, Sprague M, Olsen RE, Napier JA. Omega-3 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, EPA and DHA: Bridging the Gap between Supply and Demand. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 4;11(1):89. doi: 10.3390/nu11010089.
  4. Adarme-Vega, T.C., Lim, D.K.Y., Timmins, M. et al. Microalgal biofactories: a promising approach towards sustainable omega-3 fatty acid production. Microb Cell Fact 11, 96 (2012).

Published scientific papers for algal oil & brain function.

  1. Innis, S.M., (2007). Dietary (n-3) Fatty Acids and Brain Development, The Journal of Nutrition, 137 (4):855–859,
  2. Neubronner J, Schuchardt JP, Kressel G, Merkel M, von Schacky C, Hahn A. (2010). Enhanced increase of omega-3 index in response to long-term n-3 fatty acid supplementation from triacylglycerides versus ethyl esters. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;65(2):247-54. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.239. Epub 2010 Nov 10. PMID: 21063431.
  3. Arterburn LM, Oken HA, Bailey Hall E, Hamersley J, Kuratko CN, Hoffman JP. (2008). Algal-oil capsules and cooked salmon: nutritionally equivalent sources of docosahexaenoic acid. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Jul;108(7):1204-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.04.020. PMID: 18589030.
  4. Davis BC, Kris-Etherton PM (2003). Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):640S-646S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.640S. PMID: 12936959.
  5. Charles, C.N., Msagati, T., Swai, H., & Chacha, M., (2019). Microalgae: An alternative natural source of bioavailable omega-3 DHA for promotion of mental health in East Africa. Scientific African,6,e00187. ISSN 2468-2276,
  6. Paniagua-Michel, J., (2015). Chapter 16 – Microalgal Nutraceuticals. Editor(s): Se-Kwon Kim, Handbook of Marine Microalgae. Academic Press: 255-267,ISBN 9780128007761.
  7. Astiasarán, I., & Ansorena, D., (2009). Chapter 19 – Algal Oils. Editor(s): Robert A. Moreau, Afaf Kamal-Eldin, Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils. AOCS Press : 491-513. ISBN 9781893997974.
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