On January 11, 2013

Nutrition Update: Functional fatty acids

The latest research on omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and similar functional petfood ingredients, and why they are important to pet diets

Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to have numerous health benefits for pets, just like they do for humans. Numerous clinical studies have proven the health benefits of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, vital components in every cell membrane supporting cell survival, growth, renewal and other critical functions. Health-promoting effects of EPA and DHA are found in several vital organs, including the heart, kidney, liver, joints, brain, eyes and skin, and are beneficial to maintaining a healthy coat, according to Aker BioMarine, producers of Qrill Pet, an omega-3 supplement derived from krill.

According to BioMarine 's research, compared to healthy subjects, animals who are overweight and obese have an increased level of signaling molecules (endocannabinoids) that influence appetite and emotional state. Krill phopsholipid omega-3s have been shown to decrease the level of these signaling molecules. This can have a positive effect in the regulation of food intake in obese animals, says the company.

The omega-3 fatty acids in Qrill Pet are mainly in phospholipid form. The omega-3s in most petfoods are primarily derived from oily fish, providing omega-3s in triglyceride form. Phospholipid omega-3s are the building blocks of cell membranes and have a higher uptake into the cell membranes, according to BioMarine. Being water dispersible makes them gentler on the pet's stomach and more readily absorbed by the body. Elevated concentrations of omega-3s in vital organs, such as the brain, eyes and liver, are observed when delivered as omega-3 phospholipids compared to omega-3 triglycerides.

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