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Ecology: which are the best supplements when it comes to respecting the environment?

Supplement manufacturers are also acting to safeguard our beautiful blue planet. Discover the most eco-friendly supplements for helping to reduce your carbon footprint and impact on the world’s ecosystems.
Adult handing on planet Earth to a child
Opt for more eco-friendly supplements to help save the planet and safeguard the lives of future generations.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2021-04-21Commentaires (0)

Why choose environmentally-friendly supplements?

With the reality of global warming, the depletion of natural resources and the extinction of certain species, environmental concerns are now taking center stage (1-2). With current economic and social models seemingly incompatible with a stable environment, new initiatives are required from all business sectors to respond effectively to tomorrow’s challenges.

Accordingly, certain supplement manufacturers are choosing the path of ecological transition, offering new, ‘greener’, formulations. This involves a range of measures: limiting animal-source products, prioritising short supply chains , switching to organic and sustainable farming methods …

Supplements sourced from sustainable fishing

The sea’s an infinite resource, right? Well no, not really. Practices such as overfishing, bottom trawling and continuing to fish threatened species all damage the natural regeneration of marine ecosystems. In response, sustainable fishing aims to safeguard the long-term survival of our marine resources. It advocates more selective fishing, respecting what’s ‘in season’, and only using methods that do not damage aquatic environments. An initiative which ecologically-produced supplements seek to promote!

An example of this? Omega-3 supplements. Marine-source EPA and DHA polyunsaturated fatty acids are primarily extracted from oily fish (3). Using sustainable fishing methods ensures that quotas and strict specifications are adhered to. Supplements made with Friend of the Sea® certified fish oils(such as Super Omega 3) are thus actively supporting the preservation of marine habitats.

A smart alternative to sardines and mackerel, the marine genus calanus represents a major biological resource in terms of biomass. Fished from Arctic Sea waters, this zooplankton species is actually part of the bioeconomic strategy of Scandinavian countries. Its heart-healthy oil is becoming an increasingly important ingredient in omega-3 supplementation (as evidenced by the product Arctic Plankton Oil) (4).

Less well-known, palmitoleic acid (omega-7) is a monounsaturated fatty acid which is relatively rare in the animal and plant kingdoms (5). Found in macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn berries, it is also present at significant levels in anchovies. Prioritising sustainable, and ideally wild, fishing (as is the case with the fish extract Provinal® used to makePalmitoleic Acid) is a smart ecological choice.

Plant-source supplements (100% vegan)

More generally, the use of animal products on a massive scale takes a heavy toll on our environment. In French agriculture, for example, 75% of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming alone. Deforestation is also a problem in many countries: forests are cleared to create new grazing areas or to cultivate grain for livestock feed.

Supplement suppliers are today seeking to effect change by offering 100% vegan formulations, giving pride of place to plant substances (such as in the products CDP Choline, Cran-Max® and Triple C).

Vitamin D supplements made from animal-source products? Can do better! Though vitamin D3 products normally rely on cod liver oil or lanolin from sheep wool, innovative vegan formulations are now appearing on the shelves (6). Some manufacturers are choosing to leave animals in peace, and are instead turning to non-GMO marine algae (such as in the product Vegan D3).

Certain suppliers are going even further, re-evaluating harvesting techniques. By preserving the integrity of a plant’s main stems and roots, species have a chance to regenerate. The Devil’s claw used in the supplement Super Harpagophytum has thus been picked in this controlled, sustainable way, by members of the Khwe tribe, using traditional methods. As a reminder, this plant is recognized for helping to support appetite and digestive health.

Going organic and local for ‘greener’ supplementation

Over-use of pesticides, chemicals, GMO … There’s no place for these various practices in organic farming which seeks to safeguard both biodiversity and human health (7). Just as more and more of us are choosing to ‘eat organic’, an increasing number of organic, supplements are now part of this movement (such as Organic Moringa Leaf).

Locavores (those who try to eat food produced relatively locally) can also be assured that short supply chains are a priority too. By reducing the transport-related energy footprint, eliminating the ‘middle man’ where possible, and restoring the social link, ‘locally-produced’ supplements succeed in reducing their impact on the environment while supporting regional economies.

Sustainably-produced palm oil

And let’s not forget palm oil. Faced with ever-increasing demand, thousands of acres of forest are being cleared every day in South-East Asia and Africa in order to grow these famous palm trees. This is producing a domino effect which impacts on local flora and fauna: the most striking example of this is the rapid extinction rate of orangutans, deprived so brutally of their natural habitat (8).

Predominantly made from unsustainable palm oil, supplements containing P.E.A. (a bioactive fatty acid) serve to maintain this catastrophic situation. Fortunately, some supplement manufacturers have chosen to use palm oil from sustainable sources – such as the product P.E.A, which contains RSPO-certified oil (grown in accordance with specific criteria laid out by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).

References

  1. Naeem S, Chazdon R, Duffy JE, Prager C, Worm B. Biodiversity and human well-being: an essential link for sustainable development. Proc Biol Sci. 2016;283(1844):20162091. doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.2091
  2. Rossati A. Global Warming and Its Health Impact. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2017;8(1):7-20. doi:10.15171/ijoem.2017.963
  3. Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):1-7. doi:10.3945/an.111.000893
  4. Schots PC, Pedersen AM, Eilertsen KE, Olsen RL, Larsen TS. Possible Health Effects of a Wax Ester Rich Marine Oil. Front Pharmacol. 2020;11:961. Published 2020 Jun 26. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.00961
  5. Frigolet ME, Gutiérrez-Aguilar R. The Role of the Novel Lipokine Palmitoleic Acid in Health and Disease. Adv Nutr. 2017;8(1):173S-181S. Published 2017 Jan 17. doi:10.3945/an.115.011130
  6. Jäpelt RB, Jakobsen J. Vitamin D in plants: a review of occurrence, analysis, and biosynthesis. Front Plant Sci. 2013;4:136. Published 2013 May 13. doi:10.3389/fpls.2013.00136
  7. Mie A, Andersen HR, Gunnarsson S, et al. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. Environ Health. 2017;16(1):111. Published 2017 Oct 27. doi:10.1186/s12940-017-0315-4
  8. Giam X. Global biodiversity loss from tropical deforestation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017;114(23):5775-5777. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706264114
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