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The Eskimo effect


The market for nutritional supplements is booming. The spectrum is broad, and the quality of the products on offer varies just as much. But consumers should have better access to high-quality products, especially when it comes to food. Alkoxides from Evonik can be used in the production of omega-3 fish oil concentrates. They meet the high quality standards of the health sector.


Fat is healthy - or can be, at least in the case of "good" fats. Scientists have known of the existence of such good fats since the last century. They discovered that Eskimos very rarely suffer from cardiovascular disorders and also enjoy a high life expectancy. At first glance this seemed very unusual, given that their diet is characterized by little vitamin-rich food. More often than not, their diet consists of oily fish and fatty whale and seal meat rather than fresh fruit and vegetables. Scientists believed that the extraordinarily good health of the Eskimos could be traced back to the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) und eocosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish with high fat content. This was later confirmed by further scientific studies.

Health fatty acids

"Numerous studies support the hypothesis that the consumption of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as those contained in fatty species of fish like salmon, tuna, herring or in fish oil supplements, reduces the overall mortality rate as well as the occurrence of various cardiovascular diseases," states the Bonn-based German Nutrition Society (DGE), for instance. According to a study published in 2006, consuming between 150 and 500 milligrams of DHA/EPA a day can reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases by around 30 percent. The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can also help to reduce the level of elevated blood fat. A great many scientific studies acknowledge the beneficial health effects of EPA and DHA, which, for example, are said to improve eyesight and cognitive performance.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for humans. The human body cannot produce sufficient quantities of it itself, however, and it must be regularly ingested with food. Doctors and nutritionists therefore recommend eating fish twice a week. As most people cannot make such drastic changes to their diet consistently, more and more people are turning to dietary supplements or food enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. Certain prescription medications, such as treatment for lowering blood fat levels, also contain omega-3 fatty acids. There is a particular demand for the use of omega-3 fatty acids in this area, because they increase the effectiveness of the synthetic active ingredient Statine, as it is called. Omega-3 fatty acids also play a major role in healthy aging. This is why high-quality food tailored to the special requirements of elderly people or geriatric patients will become even more important in the future.

High quality standards

Evonik is a major supplier in this health market. The specialty chemicals company supplies sodium ethoxide as a solid and in liquid form as an ethanolic solution to companies in the pharmaceutical sector and manufacturers of nutritional supplements, who use the alkoxide as a catalyst in the transesterification of fish oil to produce omega-3 fatty acid ethel esters. The transesterification process cleans the substances and frees them from contaminants. "“Of course, our customers can also expect this from our products," says Dr. Matthias Wiehn, Research & Development Manager at Evonik in Lülsdorf, Germany. As a member of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED), the association of worldwide leading omega-3 producers, Evonik is obliged to meet high quality standards.
The demand for nutritional supplements and functional food is expected to grow even more in the future. A joint research study carried out by the Frauenhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging and the Technische Unioversität München and commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) also came to the same conclusion. The reason lies in global social trends: People are getting increasingly older, they eat too much and consume too many calories. These developments call for companies to also develop new and adapted nutritional concepts and solutions. Evonik is playing its part in this.

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