6 Facts About Algae You Never Knew

6 Facts About Algae You Never Knew


There’s a good chance that you’ve seen algae floating along the top of a pond or lake, but have you tried eating it yet? Of course, you shouldn’t eat the green stuff floating along the top of the water. 

However, when you get it from the right source, algae may be a beneficial addition to your diet.

What Is Algae?

Algae can offer many potential benefits for our health and the environment. Discover the most interesting facts about algae that you didn’t know.

Algae is a plant-like organism that lives in aquatic environments. Algae is “plant-like” in the sense that it undergoes photosynthesis and has a green compound called chlorophyll, just like any other typical plant. However, the emphasis on “like” lies in the fact that algae does not have leaves, stems, or branches.

Still, algae is a fascinating organism. Algae can refer to anything from seaweed to small single-celled organisms that can be found in any area of water that receives sunlight, or the phototrophic zone.

6 Fascinating Facts About Algae

You may have seen algae accumulate at the top of a pond or move around in a part of the ocean, but you probably haven’t recognized the amount of potential that lies within it. 

These facts will change how you look at algae and leave you with a brand-new appreciation for this plant-like organism.

1. There Are Many Types of Algae

Do you like snacking on seaweed? Have you ever had a spirulina shake? If either of these is a yes, then you have eaten algae. Algae is an impressive family of plant-like organisms, as there are so many different types. 

In fact, there may be anywhere from 30,000 to over one million different species of algae in the world. With such an impressive number, it is difficult to scratch the surface of the specifics.

Still, we know that algae can take many forms, and this makes a difference in our diet. With so many different types of algae, they can also offer different nutritional benefits.

For example, Spirulina is rich in protein, vitamin B12, and antioxidants. Meanwhile, a type of algae called Nannochloropsis offers similar benefits but is particularly rich in healthy fats. Then there is Chlorella. Chlorella is green algae, but whether it is actually a type of algae is still up for debate since it is more considered cyanobacteria.

Regardless, there are also different types of algae of different colors that offer different antioxidant powers. For example, the alga Haematococcus pluviaris produces a deep red pigment called astaxanthin that has extreme antioxidant properties.

2. It Can Replace Fish Oil Supplements

Do you have a bottle of fish oil supplements on your counter? Well, you won’t need another one after you read this. Many people embrace fish oil and krill oil supplements as a way to promote heart health, cognitive function, and more. Many consider fish and krill to be the only sources of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Algae contains the same omega-3 fatty acids as fatty fish, offering both EPA and DHA. As a result, algae can help support healthy blood pressure and overall heart health, on top of several other potential benefits. That said, the next time someone tells you to take your fish oil, you can tell them that you have something better.

Algae may be more than just a replacement for fish oil supplements but may be the all-around better choice. The omega-3 fatty acids in algae have an absorption rate 1.7x higher than those found in fish or krill oil. This higher absorption rate means that your body can better put the omega-3 fatty acids to work and use them more efficiently to support your bodily systems.

3. Algae Is Highly Nutritious

Now you know that algae is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it might help to know that it doesn’t stop there. As we mentioned earlier, there are many different species of algae, but they all have a range of nutritional benefits. One of the most common features of algae and algae supplements is its impressive antioxidant content.

Antioxidants are compounds that can support healthy cells in the body by maintaining their integrity during exposure to free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can lead to premature cell damage and the rapid aging of cells. Some of the antioxidants found in different algae types include lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, and beta-carotene, among many others.

Many forms of algae are rich in a wide range of other vitamins and minerals as well. Some of the vitamins you can find in algae include vitamins B12, C, E, and K. On top of these vitamins, algae also contains minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and iodine.

4. Algae Could Solve Climate Change

Whether algae can singlehandedly solve climate change might be up for debate, but there is no arguing that it can certainly help. Algae is instrumental in an interesting process called carbon capture. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas responsible for contributing to the rise of global temperatures in climate change.

However, during photosynthesis, algae helps capture the carbon in the atmosphere and use it to produce energy. After algae captures the carbon, the algae is then eaten by krill, and the carbon becomes waste in the form of pellets that drop down to the seafloor, keeping them out of the atmosphere for good.

The algae releases oxygen back into the atmosphere throughout this process, providing two benefits in one. In fact, algae in the ocean produces as much as an unbelievable 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere.

5. Algae Is Super Sustainable

Algae is even more impressive as an alternative to fish or krill oil. Of course, since algae is entirely plant-based, it doesn’t require the capture of any ocean creatures. By shifting to algae as a society, we can help to promote the repopulation of fish and reduce the harmful effects of overfishing.

On top of it being a more humane alternative to fish or krill oil, producing algae is surprisingly sustainable in itself. At iwi life, the production of our algae is no more complicated than it has to be. Our production process starts with just three key resources — sunlight, CO2, and salty water from underground aquifers.

Since our growing ponds are out in the middle of deserts, our algae does not take up any nutrient-rich soil that can be used to grow other crops. On top of that, we recycle nearly all of the water that we use throughout the harvesting process to keep our operations as sustainable as possible.

Altogether, algae requires very few resources to grow, and the process is easily repeatable, making it a much better option for obtaining omega-3s and nutrition than more environmentally harmful choices like fish and krill.

6. Algae May Be the Future

Algae is great for its omega-3 benefits, but it may do much more than serve as an omega-3 supplement in the future. Between its sustainability and impressive density of nutrients, algae may become a staple food in a matter of a few decades. 

As the world population continues to grow, the world is going to continue to need solutions for sustainable food growth. After all, animal agriculture doesn’t seem capable of being sustainable enough to support billions more people as the world population continues to grow.

Algae might just be the answer to this difficult dilemma. Algae that can be eaten by humans can have anywhere from 27 to 70 percent protein content. As the world looks for protein-dense foods that can sustain large numbers of people without taking up significant resources to produce, algae seems like a strong glimmer of hope.

See The Magic of Algae for Yourself

Algae can offer many potential benefits for our health and the environment. Discover the most interesting facts about algae that you didn’t know.

Altogether, algae is a fascinating aquatic plant, and it offers plenty of potential to support us in our day-to-day lives, especially moving into the future. Still, there are plenty of ways we can embrace algae's powers today. With iwi life, you can easily make algae a part of your daily routine thanks to our daily omega-3 supplement.

By taking algae, you not only support your everyday health and wellness, but you also support the environment and take a step toward a more sustainable future. Explore our complete family of iwi life omega-3 supplements to see how you can get the best of both worlds from a once-daily softgel.


Acute appearance of fatty acids in human plasma – a comparative study between polar-lipid rich oil from the microalgae Nannochloropsis oculata and krill oil in healthy young males | BioMed Central

Oxygen levels - Understanding Global Change | Berkeley


Developing algae as a sustainable food source | Frontiers

1 of 3

join the iwi life community at @myiwilife