Best Algae and Seaweed for Nutritional Supplements

Buyers' Guide

Best Algae and Seaweed for Nutritional Supplements

Date published:
October 2, 2023

As the global trend to improve health and wellness intensifies, consumers are becoming more aware about the nutritional benefits of algae and seaweed. This has positioned them as valuable, natural ingredients for the nutritional supplements industry. For businesses aiming to meet this increased demand, understanding the applications and potential uses of algae and seaweed as nutritional supplements is an important first step for both product development and procurement departments.

This comprehensive B2B Buyers’ Guide covers four specific types of algae and seaweed ingredients and their roles in the supplement landscape. Designed for product development professionals and procurement teams, this guide not only provides insights into nutritional highlights, potential applications, and current market trends, but also offers sourcing tips for companies looking to procure transparent and trustworthy algae and seaweed for the nutritional supplements market. Our goal is for this buyers’ guide to help businesses confidently integrate algae and seaweed into their nutritional supplement offerings.

IMPORTANT: For clarity purposes, there are two general categories of algae - macro-algae and micro-algae. Macro-algae is commonly known as seaweed and predominantly grows in oceans and other marine environments.  Micro-algae are typically unicellular organism and grows in both freshwater and the ocean. We use the words algae and seaweed interchangeably throughout the guide.

Our Top Picks
Algae-based Omega-3

Best for Brain and Heart Health


Best for General Health Supplements

Irish Moss

Best for Immune Support and Digestive Health


Best for Antioxidant Supplements

Algae-based Omega-3

Algae-based Omega-3


Best for Brain and Heart Health

Skip the fish and go directly to the source…

Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for some of the most important parts and processes in our bodies, such as maintaining our heart, brain, and eye health, as well as promoting the health of our immune system and regulating inflammation responses. Fish, often touted for their omega-3 content, actually derive these essential fatty acids from their diet, with algae being their principal source. While fish oil has traditionally been the go-to source for omega-3, most fish oils are refined to remove contaminants and heavy metals making it more difficult for the body to absorb. As a result, there is an increasing interest among consumers to go directly to the source and consume a cleaner, more pure form of omega-3 directly from algae. The two main omega-3 fatty acids that come from fish and algae and their primary benefits are:

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Primary Benefits
EPA - eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Heart health
  • Joint health
  • Reduce inflammation in the body
DHA - docosahexaenoic acid
  • Brain health
  • Eye health

With their unique health advantages, algae-derived EPA and DHA are swiftly carving a niche in the nutritional supplement market. Algae used for omega-3 are grown in tanks, which means that no fishing practices are needed and the omega-3 have never come into contact with the pollutants and contaminants in the ocean. Algae-based omega-3s can serve as a cleaner, purer, and more potent form of omega-3 suitable for everyone. Algae-based omega-3s are most commonly extracted from a handful of different species of micro-algae. Below is a summary of the most common species and main nutritional features:

Species Main Nutritional Feature
Schizochytrium High in DHA content
Crypthecodinium cohnii High DHA content
Nannochloropsis High EPA content
Phaeodactylum tricornutum High EPA content

  • Cleaner and purer vs fish oils.
  • More potent and bioavailable than fish oils; ensures efficient absorption by the body1.
  • No "fishy" aftertaste.
  • More sustainable - removes the fish from the process.
  • Can be more expensive than commercial fish oils.
  • Limited production capacity.
  • Requires controlled growing conditions to ensure high quality.

Top supplement applications for algae-based omega-3

The potency and versatility of algae-derived omega-3 make it a sought-after ingredient in various health-focused supplements. Below are potential applications for using algae-based omega-3.

  • Heart Health Formulations: Using EPA in products has been proven to reduce triglyceride levels and support overall cardiovascular health. 
  • Brain and Cognitive Boosters: Given the significant role of DHA in brain health, supplements targeting cognitive function and memory can prominently feature this ingredient.
  • Joint and Inflammation Support: The anti-inflammatory properties of EPA make it valuable in formulations aiming to alleviate joint pain and inflammation.
  • Eye Health Supplements: DHA plays a crucial role in vision, making algae-based omega-3 a valuable ingredient for formulations targeting eye health.
  • General Daily Supplements: Combining EPA and DHA to support overall health can be used for a variety of general daily-use supplements.

DHA potential health benefits

  • DHA Benefit #1 - Brain health: DHA is a primary structural component of the brain. Adequate levels of DHA are essential for proper brain development and function, especially during fetal development and infancy.2
  • DHA Benefit #2 - Vision support: DHA plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health of the retina, potentially helping prevent age-related macular degeneration and supporting overall eye health.2

EPA potential health benefits

  • EPA Benefit #1 - Heart health : EPA is known for its anti-inflammatory effects which may reduce the risk of heart disease3.
  • EPA Benefit #2 - Joint health: EPA is known for its anti-inflammatory effects which can benefit conditions like arthritis and other joint-related problems4.

What products can algae-based omega-3 replace?

Algae-based omega-3s are an efficient, sustainable source of omega-3. It is a clean, pure product grown in unpolluted environments, thus not containing heavy metals and contaminants often found in fish. Given the animal-free sourcing and potent health benefits, algae-derived omega-3 is an attractive alternative to a variety of incumbent omega-3 supplements.

  • Traditional Fish Oil Supplements: Algae-based omega-3s offer a direct source of EPA and DHA made without involving a fish, making it a fitting replacement for conventional fish oil capsules and liquids.
  • Krill Oil Supplements: While krill oil has gained popularity as another marine source of omega-3s, algae-based supplements present a cleaner and purer plant-based alternative that bypasses the marine animal food chain altogether.
  • Flaxseed Oil Supplements: Though flaxseed oil contains ALA, a type of omega-3, it doesn’t directly provide EPA and DHA. Algae-based omega-3 fills this gap by offering direct sources of these crucial fatty acids5.

What types of businesses can use algae-based omega-3 as supplements?

As health trends lean towards high quality, clean, and more planet-friendly products, many companies are looking to algae-based omega-3. Rich in direct sources of EPA and DHA, it can be used by a variety of businesses in the nutritional supplement industry.

  • Wellness Brands: Recognizing the broad health benefits of EPA and DHA, brands can offer algae-based omega-3 supplements for general well-being.
  • Vegan and Plant-Based Product Lines: Brands catering specifically to vegan or environmentally-conscious consumers may prioritize algae-sourced omega-3.
  • Nutritional Supplement Retailers: Both physical and online stores can feature this supplement given the growing demand for high quality, clean, and more planet-friendly products. 
  • Specialized Supplement Brands: Those focusing on heart health, cognitive function, or joint support can create specific products with different ratios of EPA and DHA to create products with specific health benefits. 
  • Formulators and Private Label Manufacturers: Algae-based omega-3s used for the supplement industry are grown in tanks in highly controlled environments. When grown in this manner, algae can be manipulated by external factors such as temperature, oxygen and light exposure, allowing formulaters to create custom formulations and solutions for their customers based on their stated objectives.



Best for General Health Supplements

Spirulina has carved its place as a powerful superfood as it sought-after for its all-around nutritional profile. Consisting of 60-70% protein by dry weight and encompassing all essential amino acids, it offers a robust, complete protein source8. This micro-algae, while popular among health enthusiasts, has a broader potential in the nutritional supplements space. Spirulina provides businesses a prime ingredient to boost the nutrition of their supplement offerings.

  • Offers a complete protein profile.
  • Contains an impressive array of vitamins and minerals.
  • Highly adaptable to various supplement formats, from powders to capsules.
  • Requires sourcing from reputable vendors to guarantee quality.
  • Consistency in product can vary among suppliers; regular batch testing is recommended.

Top supplement applications for spirulina

As businesses navigate changing consumer preferences, spirulina emerges as a versatile ingredient for many different nutritional supplement applications. Its adaptability is evident in the array of formats it seamlessly integrates into, catering to both traditional and more unique product lines.

  • General Health Supplements: As a trusted staple in the supplement market, Spirulina capsules, tablets, and powders offer businesses a straightforward approach to delivering spirulina's robust health benefits to their customers. Their familiar form ensures easy integration into consumers' daily routines, guaranteeing a consistent and measured intake.
  • Liquid Extracts: Spirulina liquid extracts cater well to the fast-paced lives of consumers. This format simplifies intake for those wary of pills or powders and provides a way to offer a more potent, pure product than many dried options.
  • Gummies and Chews: Gummies and chews present a nice twist on traditional supplements. They allow businesses to tap into a wider consumer segment as this format is more approachable and is fun to consume for people that otherwise do not consume supplements. They can provide a nice blend of taste, texture, and health benefits.

Spirulina potential health benefits

  • Spirulina Benefit #1 - High protein content: Spirulina is about 60-70% protein by dry weight and contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete and rich protein source.
  • Spirulina Benefit #2 - Nutrient dense: Spirulina is incredibly nutrient-rich. It provides a substantial amount of vitamins like A, B1, B2, and B3, along with essential minerals such as copper and iron6.
  • Spirulina Benefit #3 - Antioxidant: Spirulina contains phycocyanin, an antioxidant that helps boost your immune system.
  • Spirulina Benefit #4 - Muscle strength and endurance benefits: There's evidence suggesting that spirulina can improve muscle strength and endurance, beneficial for those involved in regular physical activities as it is a complete protein source7.

What products can spirulina replace?

Spirulina is a commonly-used ingredient for nutritional supplements as it can enhance or completely redefine traditional supplement offerings.

  • Protein Powder Replacement: Spirulina can be used as an alternative to soy, whey, or other protein powders.
  • Ingredients in All-Around Multivitamin Supplements: Spirulina carries loads of essential vitamins and minerals that can replace many ingredients in commercial multivitamin formulations that are much less robust.
  • Synthetic Iron Supplements: Spirulina’s rich iron content provides businesses with a chance to divert from synthetic iron supplements, promoting a more organic uptake of the mineral6.
  • Ingredients in Detox and Cleansing Supplements: Known for its detoxifying properties, spirulina can serve as a core ingredient to detox supplements. Its ability to bind with heavy metals and aid in their removal from the body provides a natural solution for those looking to cleanse9.

What types of businesses can use spirulina as supplements?

A wide variety of businesses can leverage spirulina's complete nutritional profile to enhance a product’s nutritional value and develop additional trust among their customers.

  • Health and Wellness Retailers: Stores that prioritize holistic health can incorporate Spirulina products due to its all-around, versatile health benefits.
  • Specialized Supplement Manufacturers: Businesses producing niche supplements targeting specific health targets can incorporate spirulina for specific benefits into their formulations.
  • Sports Nutrition Suppliers: Spirulina's protein content and nutritional properties make it a favored ingredient for businesses catering to athletes.
  • Speciality Ingredient Distributors: Distributors focused on speciality ingredients can offer spirulina in many forms to their customers.
Irish Moss

Irish Moss


Best for Immune Support and Digestive Health

Irish moss has surged in popularity due to its unique gelling qualities, dense nutritional composition, and recent endorsements from celebrities and influencers like Kim Kardashian10. Dating back to the late 1800s, sea moss was originally touted as, “food as the new medicine” as it is abundant in vitamins and minerals as well as rich in antioxidants. Fueled by social media and increased consumer demand for natural products, Irish sea moss is seeing a new wave of popularity—and additional health claims from well-known, influential celebrities and personalities. As sea moss has recently come back into the cultural zeitgeist, there is a lack of conclusive scientific evidence to support some of the newer health claims.

For clarity - sea moss is a generic term used to describe different species of red algae, most notably Irish moss—formally known as Chondrus crispus—most commonly harvested along the Atlantic coasts in the Americas and Europe. Brands often use the term, “sea moss” to refer to other types of red algae sourced from the Caribbean called Gracilaria. It is important for businesses to understand this point as these species contain different properties and nutritional profiles. We will use the term, “sea moss,” but we are referring to the species Chondrus crispus.

  • Versatile application, suitable for various supplement formats.
  • Rich source of essential minerals like zinc, iodine, calcium, and magnesium11.
  • Familiar among consumers due to celebrity endorsements and recommendations.
  • Need a reputable source to ensure product safety and metal contents.
  • Can have variability in nutrient concentration.
  • Requires proper prep/processing to eliminate impurities.
  • Some consumers might experience mild allergic reactions12.

Top supplement applications for sea moss

As businesses seek ingredients and products that resonate with consumer wellness trends, sea moss stands out as a, “new kid on the block” due to the recent popularity surge across social media. Irish sea moss can be used in a variety of formats - gels, raw, extracts, and powders - allowing businesses to use it for a wide range of applications and products.

  • Digestive Health Supplements: Sea moss has traditionally been used to relieve sore throats and respiratory conditions as it soothes the mucous membranes of the body. This makes it a hero ingredient for supplements targeting digestive health.
  • Immune Boosting Formulations: With its soothing properties, sea moss can be incorporated into immune-boosting supplements, offering consumers added protection during flu seasons or stressful times.
  • Skin Health Formulations: The gelling properties of sea moss when boiled can be beneficial for the skin when applied topically. It helps to soothe and hydrate the skin and can potentially alleviate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. 
  • Thyroid Health Supplements: Given its high iodine content, sea moss can be a cornerstone ingredient for thyroid health supplements.

Sea moss potential health benefits

  • Sea Moss Benefit #1 - Supports gut health and digestion: Sea moss is a good source of prebiotics, which are fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics can help to improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation13.
  • Sea Moss Benefit #2 - Boosts immunity: Sea moss contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help to boost the immune system. Irish sea moss is also a good source of iron, which is essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body and fighting off infection13.
  • Sea Moss Benefit #3 - Supports thyroid health: Sea moss contains iodine, which is an essential mineral for thyroid function. Iodine helps the thyroid gland produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, and energy levels14.
  • Sea Moss Benefit #4 - Reduces inflammation: Sea moss contains antioxidants and other compounds that help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is a root cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis15.

What products can sea moss replace?

Sea moss, with its wide-ranging nutritional spectrum, presents businesses an opportunity to reimagine and upgrade traditional supplement offerings.

  • Digestive Aids: Due to its prebiotic properties, sea moss can be an alternative to standard digestive supplements, offering a natural route to gut health.
  • Iodine Supplements: With its rich iodine content, sea moss can be an organic substitute for traditional thyroid support supplements.
  • Skin Health Enhancers: The anti-inflammatory and hydration benefits of sea moss suggest its potential as a replacement for many skin health supplements.

What types of businesses can use sea moss as a supplement?

Sea moss’ recent surge in popularity and multifaceted nutritional benefits can significantly uplift product offerings for a variety of businesses.

  • Health and Wellness Retailers: Those emphasizing comprehensive health can diversify their shelves with sea moss-based products.
  • Beauty and Skincare Brands: With its potential skin-enhancing attributes, sea moss can be a staple for businesses crafting beauty and skincare supplements.
  • Specialized Supplement Manufacturers: For businesses concentrating on niche segments, like digestive health or mineral supplementation, sea moss can be incorporated as a key ingredient.
  • Bulk Ingredient Wholesalers and Distributors: By adding sea moss to product portfolios, wholesalers can differentiate their offerings and help their customers in the supplement industry stay on top of emerging trends.



Best for Antioxidant Supplements

Astaxanthin is derived primarily from both salmon and micro-algae and stands out for its intense antioxidant properties16. Growing scientific interest in its health benefits has resulted in astaxanthin gaining recognition in the broader dietary supplements market. Recent media attention and testimonials have further elevated its status among health-conscious consumers.

  • Exceptional antioxidant properties, often cited as being exponentially stronger than vitamin C or vitamin E17.
  • Supports skin health and offers protection from UV damage.
  • Naturally derived; preferable for clean-label products.
  • Suppliers need verification to confirm formulations and  potency18.
  • Costlier than other common antioxidants.
  • Primarily sourced from one specific algae; potential supply chain limitations.

Top supplement applications for astaxanthin

Astaxanthin's unique antioxidant profile and performance-enhancing properties makes it a favorite among both general wellness and athletic-focused supplement applications. It can be delivered in several formats - gels, powders, extracts - and used as both an ingredient and end product.

  • General Antioxidant Supplements: Due to its superior antioxidant capabilities, astaxanthin can be a stand-alone supplement or be incorporated into broader antioxidant formulations to bolster their efficacy. It is fat soluble so consuming it alongside healthy oils increases absorption in the body and overall benefits.
  • Cardiovascular Health Supplements: Astaxanthin can play a role in supporting heart health by reducing oxidative stress, making it a potential ingredient in cardiovascular wellness supplements.
  • Brain Health Boosters: Emerging studies suggest astaxanthin may offer neuro-protective benefits19, positioning it as a valuable ingredient in supplements targeting cognitive health and memory enhancement.
  • Exercise or Performance Supplements: Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are recognizing astaxanthin for its potential to improve muscle recovery and boost endurance, making it a sought-after ingredient in performance-enhancing supplements.

Astaxanthin potential health benefits

  • Astaxanthin Benefit #1: Powerful antioxidant: Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and lead to a variety of health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease19.
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #2: Supports heart health: Astaxanthin has been shown to improve cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and protect the heart from damage. Astaxanthin may also help to lower blood pressure21.
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #3: Boosts immunity: Astaxanthin can help to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells and natural killer cells. Astaxanthin may also help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can weaken the immune system21.
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #4: Improves cognitive function: Astaxanthin has been shown to improve cognitive function by protecting the brain from damage caused by free radicals and inflammation. Astaxanthin may also help to improve memory and learning19.
  • Astaxanthin Benefit #5: Improves exercise performance: Astaxanthin can potentially improve exercise performance by reducing muscle fatigue and increasing endurance. Astaxanthin may also help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise23.

What products can astaxanthin replace?

With its robust antioxidant profile, astaxanthin stands as an alternative to several mainstream supplements. Consumers looking for more natural and effective sources of health support may turn to astaxanthin as a superior option.

  • Beta-carotene and General Antioxidant Supplements: With its heightened antioxidant capabilities, astaxanthin can offer a more potent alternative to traditional antioxidant supplements. While astaxanthin and beta-carotene are both carotenoids, astaxanthin has shown to have a much stronger antioxidant activity than beta-carotene24. Some studies show it is up to 20x stronger25
  • Post-Workout Supplements: Astaxanthin's potential in aiding muscle recovery can make it a preferred choice for athletes over traditional recovery aids.
  • Common Immune Boosters: Astaxanthin's role in supporting immune function may make it a more effective choice than standard immune-boosting supplements.

What types of businesses can use astaxanthin as a supplement?

Here are the types of businesses that can incorporate astaxanthin into their product offerings.

  • Health and Wellness Retailers: General health and wellness retailers can sell standalone astaxanthin supplements in different forms - from capsules to extracts.
  • Specialized Supplement Manufacturers: For businesses concentrating on both niche supplements, Astaxanthin can be incorporated as a key ingredient.
  • Cosmetics and Skincare Brands: Due to its ability to protect the skin from oxidative stress and inflammation, astaxanthin is incorporated into various cosmetic and skincare products, such as creams, serums, and lotions, to improve skin elasticity, hydration, and appearance 
  • Sports Nutrition Brands: With benefits related to muscle recovery and joint health, brands catering to athletes can introduce astaxanthin in their recovery supplements.
  • Pharmaceutical Companies: Astaxanthin can be used for its potential therapeutic applications, particularly due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be explored for potential roles in managing conditions like cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and inflammatory disorders.
Nutritional Highlights

Each type of algae and seaweed carries its own unique benefits relative to other species. Below are the nutritional highlights each species is most well-known for.

  • Algae-based Omega-3: Brain and cardiovascular support - Offers essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA, crucial for maintaining cognitive and heart health.
  • Spirulina: Complete protein source - High protein content of 60-70% in dry form; rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Irish Sea Moss: Immunity and digestion support - due to its gelling qualities, it carries the unique property of soothing the mucous membranes of the body to improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.
  • Astaxanthin: Cellular protection - potent antioxidants that protect against cellular damage.

DISCLAIMER: The nutritional content of algae and seaweed can vary widely based on growing conditions, harvesting time, processing methods, and geographic location. When purchasing, businesses should have the product tested and verified by a third-party.

Side-by-Side Comparison
Ingredient name Why we picked it Highlights Best fit for
Algae-based Omega-3 Best for Brain and Heart Health Cleaner and purer than fish oils; much more planet-friendly. Brands looking for planet-friendly and/or plant-based omega-3 options.
Spirulina Best for General Health Supplements Many different formats; high customer recognition. All supplement businesses.
Sea Moss Best for Immune Support and Digestive Health Versatile; trending due to celebrity and athlete endorsements. Brands and formulators looking to stay at the forefront of consumer trends.
Astaxanthin Best for Antioxidant Supplements Strong antioxidant profile; scientific data to support health claims. Businesses looking to offer higher quality, more premium supplements.
Product Examples and Use Cases
Company Product Ingredient Used Function of Ingredient
Elm and Rye Sea Moss Supplement Irish Sea Moss Iodine source, heart health, and digestive health.
Nutriana Organic Sea Moss Irish Sea Moss Supports immune system, thyroid, and heart health.
TrueSeaMoss Variety of Sea Moss Products Irish Sea Moss Various functions.
Nordic Naturals Vegan Prenatal DHA Micro-algae oil Source of DHA for fetal development and healthy pregnancy.
iwi Life Omega-3 Sport Micro-algae oil Higher DHA source to support post-exercise muscle recovery.
now Foods Spirulina Tablets Spirulina Source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Transparent Labs Prebiotic Greens Spirulina and Chlorella Source of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Heavy-metal detoxification.
Versus Green and Blue Spirulina Capsules Green and Blue Spirulina Extract Protein and antioxidant source, energy and immune system boost.
Double Wood Supplements Astaxanthin Softgels Astaxanthin Antioxidant to support skin, gut, ocular, and immune health.
Turner New Zealand Astaxanthin Power Astaxanthin Energy boost, skin health benefits, and muscle function support.
Top Trends

Below are top trends in the nutritional supplements market businesses should pay attention to when thinking about incorporating algae and seaweed into their products and overall strategy. Many of these trends are being driven by consumer preferences, which have major implications for the B2B world of nutritional supplements.

Increasing demand for plant-based sources of protein and omega-3s

The global shift towards more planet-friendly, clean diets is driving demand to find alternative sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Algal sources such as spirulina are rich in protein and have been recognized as a complete source, containing all the essential amino acids. Certain micro-algae are rich in omega-3s, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are usually associated with fish, but algae offers a plant-based alternative making them highly attractive for more conscious consumers. As fish receive EPA and DHA directly from algae, using algae-based omega-3s allows producers to bypass the fish and go directly to the source.

Consumers want to know what is in their products and have supply chain transparency

As consumers become more conscious about the origins of their products, there's a growing demand for supply chain transparency for the products they consume. They want to know what is in the products they buy, where they come from, and who is involved in making the products. Algae and seaweed play well into this trend as the supply chains are in the formation stage allowing for businesses to demand transparency when purchasing.

Emergence of algae and seaweed as nootropic ingredients

The nootropic market, which focuses on supplements that boost cognitive function, has witnessed steady growth. Many different species of algae have been associated with neuroprotective properties and may enhance brain function. Incorporating these algae into nootropic formulas adds another layer of appeal for consumers who are keen on enhancing mental clarity, focus, and overall cognitive health.

Consumers want products that improve both human and planetary health, but will not compromise on quality or benefits

Consumers are increasingly looking for products and companies that are dedicated to improving human and planetary health. Algae and seaweed are perfect candidates for this trend due to the nutritional benefits and low environmental impact of production. While consumers are getting serious about this point, they are not willing to compromise on the overall quality of the product. Businesses will only see success using seaweed and algae in their supplements if they have proven results and stand out from the competition.  

Personalized nutrition is a perfect fit for algae

With the move towards personalized nutrition where dietary choices and supplements are tailored to an individual's unique needs, algae and seaweeds offer a plethora of options. Their diverse nutrient profiles mean that they can be combined to match a person's specific nutritional requirements, making them ideal candidates for the personalized nutrition trend.

Birth of the, ‘Values-based Consumer’  

With endless options on the market for nearly everything, consumers are looking to buy products from companies that match their personal values. This trend of, “values-based consumerism” means people are choosing to buy things that reflect what they believe in and care about. A deep desire across every consumer is supporting local economies. Algae and seaweed are a perfect fit for this trend as businesses that purchase these ingredients have a direct effect on farmers, their families, and local communities where it is grown. Telling this story will be an important point of differentiation for businesses going forward.  

The rise of algae and seaweed in beauty supplements

The "beauty from within" trend is part of the growing nutricosmetics market, which focuses on enhancing skin youthfulness through supplements and functional foods and beverages. Algae and seaweed supplements, rich in antioxidants like astaxanthin, are gaining attention in this market. Their rise in popularity has been further boosted with endorsements from health experts and celebrities alike, notably Kim Kardashian who has praised the benefits of Irish sea moss. With such momentum and endorsements, algae and seaweed supplements are solidifying their presence in the beauty and health sectors.


Q: Is algae the same as seaweed?

There are two general categories of algae - macro-algae and micro-algae. Macro-algae is commonly known as seaweed and predominantly grows in the ocean and marine environments.  Micro-algae is a unicellular organism and grows in both freshwater and the ocean. Both seaweed and micro-algae can be grown wild, through outdoor cultivation, or by  controlled indoor agricultural methods by using bioreactors.

There are over 72,000 different species of algae, but less than 20 are commonly used across different industries.

Q: What product formats are algae and seaweed available in?

They come in a variety of formats. Fresh, frozen, dried, powdered, and flakes. There are also a variety of extracts in both liquid and powdered form that are available. Your target application and nutritional profile will be the driving force on what format and species to purchase. 

Q: What are the primary health benefits of algae and seaweed supplements?

They are rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. Many claim they support immune function, main brain, eye, and heart health, enhance gut health, assist with detoxification, and help in weight management. 

Q: How are algae and seaweed supplements typically consumed?

These supplements are available in various formats including capsules, tablets, powders, and tinctures. The consumption method often depends on personal preference, with some opting to mix powdered forms, while others prefer the convenience of capsules or tablets. Due to the increased interest from consumers in using algae and seaweed, there are more creative products coming to market in the form of gummies and daily nutrition bites.

Q: How do algae and seaweed and supplements compare in price to other health supplements?

Prices can vary based on the variety, processing method, and quality. Generally, while some algae supplements like astaxanthin can be on the higher end due to their potency and extraction costs, many algae and seaweed products can be competitively priced, especially when considering their rich nutrient profiles and growing market demand.

Q: What's the shelf life of these seaweed and algae-based ingredients?

Dried forms generally have a longer shelf life, often up to two years if stored in cool, dark conditions. Fresh or rehydrated forms might have a shelf life of a week to a month, depending on the specific ingredient and storage conditions. 

Q: Is seasonality a concern when sourcing these ingredients?

It depends. For seaweed that is grown in the ocean, there are specific growing and harvesting seasons that vary by type of seaweed and region of the world. Availability can vary with the seasons. However, many suppliers might have storage facilities that allow them to offer products year-round. There are many types of algae that are grown in indoor controlled settings and are harvested year-round. 

Q: What questions should I ask suppliers to ensure a consistent and reliable supply chain for algae and seaweed?

Inquire about their harvesting or cultivation cycles, production capacities, backup sourcing strategies, and how they handle demand surges. You should also require heavy metal testing and a certificate of analysis to be completed by a 3rd party. This will give you an idea of their reliability during market fluctuations.

Q: Can suppliers typically provide samples for R&D and initial product testing?

Most established suppliers will be able to provide small samples for testing purposes. It’s crucial to conduct preliminary tests with these samples to ensure the ingredient aligns with the product's development goals before placing large orders.

Q: Where can I procure reliable algae and seaweed for my business?

There is a lack of standards and guidelines when it comes to procuring and using algae as a supplement. As a result of this and the variability in quality that exists, we recommend either: 1) Work directly with a seaweed/algae farmer or processor with deep knowledge of their products; or 2) Work with a strategic sourcing specialist with experience in algae. They can help save you a tremendous amount of time, ensure product quality, and help you navigate the waters in this emerging industry. 

Q: What other types of algae and seaweed ingredients can be used as nutritional supplements?

Other notable algae and seaweed used for supplementation include chlorella, kelp, and bladderwrack. Extracts from certain algae are also gaining traction for their unique nutritional profiles, such as fucoxanthin from brown seaweeds. As always, sourcing from reputable suppliers ensures the best quality and purity for supplementation purposes.

B2B Procurement Tips

Be clear on the end application

There are no set industry standards or guidelines that have been established when sourcing algae and seaweed. As each species of algae and seaweed carry different properties and tastes, it is important for businesses to have a good idea of the end application and properties they are seeking. This will determine the best type of algae and format for any specific use case.

Take time to really understand your supply chain

It is critical for businesses to take time to understand the supply chain when making a purchasing decision. Algae and seaweed have high variability when it comes to nutritional content and potential contaminants.  It is important that when sourcing algae and seaweed that you can confirm nutritional content and that the supplier has the product tested for certain metals and contaminants by a verifiable 3rd party. It is also important to understand the cultivation method as it will help you determine what factors to take into account when purchasing. Algae and seaweed can be cultivated offshore or on-land, as well as through indoor controlled environments.

Build trust and transparency into your supply chains

There are endless supplement options on the market today. A quick search on Google or Amazon will have you feeling overwhelmed. Many commercially-available supplement options contain low quality ingredients, unclear formulations, and no transparency around their supply chains. The supplement craze has turned more into a game of marketing vs being serious about improving human health and performance.  If you dive deeper into the industry, the most successful supplements companies take the time upfront to research and source the highest quality ingredients and refine their formulations based on intended outcomes they are seeking. They also build trust with their customers on being more transparent around their ingredients, supply chain, and production process.

Build quality control into your contract

When issuing a purchase order or a longer-term supply contract, make sure to outline specific conditions and requirements around nutrition and product safety. This will ensure the supplier is meeting your quality standards before accepting the product.

Focus on recurring orders vs spot purchases

Due to market fluctuations and seasonality of growing seasons for many types of algae and seaweeds, it is much better to set up longer-term supply contracts well ahead of time with suppliers. It will allow you to establish a consistent price and build a more robust supply chain. It will also allow the supplier to plan ahead and invest in their own growth so they can bring costs down.  

Diversify the supplier base

If your business is just starting to purchase algae and seaweed, it is recommended to working with 3-4 suppliers to find the best fit. There are farmers and processors that have different goals on what customers they are set up to serve and growth they want to achieve. You want to find the options that are the best fit for your broader strategic goals. Lastly, by diversifying the supplier base upfront, it allows businesses to create resiliency in their supply chains.

Use a third party escrow service

When purchasing algae and seaweed, it is recommended that buyers use a 3rd party escrow service, especially when sourcing internationally. This is often something many folks overlook, but due to the variability of quality, using a third party escrow service allows the buyer to protect money and ensure the product meets their standards.

If you are looking for more information on sourcing or procuring algae and seaweed, feel free to contact Cultured Supply to talk with a procurement specialist to gain access to our network of dependable suppliers.

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