What is “Nature’s Marine Superfood”?
Nutrient profiles formed by nature
- Complete omega-3 fatty acid profile
- Retention of other essential nutrients
- Synergistic physiological activity
Superfood definition: A naturally formed nutritional complex that exceeds the physiological capacities of purified, isolated nutrients.
Is it accurate to refer to Steward’s fish-derived health formulas as “marine superfoods”? We are confident that the facts support this description. As a starting point in this discussion, it is important to establish that most fish-derived products are highly refined and only focus on the fatty acid, or omega-3 component. Highly refined products often contain an artificially manipulated fatty acid profile in order to favor higher levels of one specific omega 3, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This may be a suboptimal approach to health promotion as the human body is dependent on both EPA, DHA, and other fats in order to express radiant health and proper function. The human body requires both EPA and DHA, and another omega-3 fatty acid called docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) which plays a unique and essential role in human health. Highly refined and concentrated omega-3 products do not typically contain appreciable levels of DPA. Steward marine superfoods are minimally processed; therefore, they deliver an unaltered, natural, and complete range of essential fatty acids and other critical nutrients.
The fish species from which marine lipid formulas are made have a significant impact on not only the omega-3 profile, but also the presence of other nutritional factors that promote robust health. Ninety percent of highly refined omega-3 products utilize anchovies (and to a lesser extent, sardines) as the input raw material. Anchovies are usually about 18 percent EPA, 12 percent DHA, and contain negligible levels of DPA. Omega-3 rich tissues in the human body—for example the brain, eyes, and red blood cells—are built with much higher levels of DHA than EPA. Further, anchovy-derived oil is devoid of other nutritional factors that contribute to vibrant health. Steward utilizes premium, restaurant-grade, wild-caught Alaskan cod and salmon that our fishing vessels harvest from the Bering Sea. These fish species contain full range omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, DPA), immune-supporting fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins D2, D3, and vitamin A congeners), naturally occurring astaxanthin in the case of salmon, and significant levels of naturally formed pro-resolving mediators (including 18-HEPE, 17-HDHA, and 14-HDHA). Once ingested, these nutrients synergize to keep your immune system strong and support your overall health and wellbeing.
Steward marine superfoods are not stripped of nutrients naturally present in fish by a harsh manufacturing process. Our marine superfoods deliver robust, natural nutrient complexes in their unaltered form. Trust your health to nutrient blends designed and built by nature!
How are marine superfoods made?
In order to produce a marine lipid complex, or superfood, that retains its original, nature-formed nutrient profile, one factor stands out above all others: The waters from where the fish are harvested must be extremely clean and pure. Clean oceans mean clean fish, and clean fish do not have to be extensively processed to remove environmental toxins such as heavy metals and PCPs. It's the industrial processing that will alter natural lipid profiles and remove various vitamins and nutrients that would be better retained in the final product. The Bering Sea is clean and is perhaps the most pristine body of water on planet Earth.
Second, the fish must be harvested in a manner that does not induce high levels of damage and oxidation. Our custom designed fishing vessels utilize a Marine Stewardship Council certified line catch technology that boards one fish at a time to be immediately processed. Our crews process and flash freeze the catch literally within minutes. Unfortunately, lower quality fishing enterprises allow catch to lie in the hold of their ship for hours or days, leading to unnecessary oxidation, bruising, and decay. When the fish are flash frozen, enzymatic breakdown and oxidation comes to an emphatic halt. Fish that are gently caught and immediately frozen taste better and do not require over processing when making healthy marine lipids from the cut offs.
Finally, in order to meet exacting international standards—for example, the GOED Monogram and California Prop 65—Steward utilizes a proprietary gentle cleaning process that does not alter the natural lipid profile or remove other beneficial nutritional factors. Everything, including the vegetables we prepare at home, will benefit from a gentle scrubbing.
What will marine superfoods do for me?
Steward marine superfoods deliver essential nutrients that contribute to a vast array of physiological activities in all cells and organ systems. Keep in mind that every category of health support, such as cardiovascular or immune, requires the participation of a network of nutritional factors―never only a single vitamin, fatty acid, or mineral. To find out more about how our marine superfoods will support your health, please click here.
So that is the story of Steward marine lipid superfoods! We harvest our fish from the super clean Bering Sea in custom boats that allow immediate processing and flash freezing of our fish. The filet components are sold to high-end restaurants and food distributors around the globe. What’s left, the cut offs, are rendered and minimally processed. The result? Pure, unaltered, nutrient-dense marine superfoods that are going to have a tremendous impact on your health.
Health benefits of Steward marine superfoods
A quick word about the importance of healthy immunity
The human immune system is an extraordinarily complex and intricate combination of organs, cells, and signaling factors. Our immune systems can be roughly compartmentalized into two categories; innate and acquired. The innate immune system is made up of the organs, cells, antibodies, and signaling proteins such as cytokines that we are born with. The acquired, or adaptive immune system, largely refers to the immune components, primarily various antibodies, that our immune cells make in response to exposure to pathogens such as viruses and bacteria over the course of our lifespans.
A critical consideration regarding immune function is that it must be balanced. In this instance, balanced refers to supporting the immune system’s capacity to fight foreign pathogens (viruses and bacteria) and to vigilantly patrol the body in search of aberrant cell growth and tissue damage, while at the same time to not get “stuck” in the attack mode. When our immune system becomes overly aggressive, it can cause significant damage to healthy tissues.
Key nutrients for balanced immune activity
Omega-3 fatty acids and pro resolving mediators: Thirty years of research shows that omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in promoting balanced immune activity. Studies have discovered that omega- 3 fatty acids have inflammation calming effects due to their capacity to convert into anti- inflammatory prostaglandins. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the production of inflammatory prostaglandins by reducing the quantity of fats in cellular membrane that are more likely to contribute to the inflammatory cascade.(1) Omega-3 fatty acids are also converted into anti- inflammatory cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD). The endocannabinoid system is emerging as a significant regulatory pathway of immune activity and therefore of inflammation.
Recent investigations have focused on the role of omega-3 metabolites called specialized pro-resolving mediators, which are various classes of reduced omega-3 fatty acids that communicate directly with immune cells to effect healthy and balanced immune activity(2). There are several active classes of resolving mediators that are formed from specific omega-3 fatty acids. Subgroups of specialized pro resolving mediators: resolvins, lipoxins, maresins, and protectins. These are the families are active resolving mediators that are constantly being formed throughout the human body in order to resolve inflammation and promote healing. While Steward marine superfoods contain trace amounts of these active compounds, they deliver much higher levels of the precursors to active mediators, these are the 18-HEPE, 17-HDHA, and 14-HDHA metabolites that we refer to as pro-resolving mediators. These “intermediate” compounds are one the continuum from the omega-3 starting point, towards becoming active specialized pro resolving mediators (see figure #1). Supplementing the diet with pro resolving mediators as well as omega-3 fatty acids, may ensure the body has adequate raw material to keep the immune system balanced and effective.
Vitamin D: Research shows vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk for viral infections, including respiratory tract infections, by reducing production of proinflammatory compounds in the body. Increased vitamin D in the blood has been linked to support for numerous organ systems. Vitamin D is converted in the body to an active form, 25 hydroxyvitamin D, that is utilized by immune cells to communicate a restraining of immune activity(3). Vitamin D also plays a critical role in maximizing immune vigilance.
Vitamin A: Required for many biochemical roles, this micronutrient is crucial for maintaining vision, promoting growth and development, and protecting epithelium and mucus integrity (immune barrier) in the body. Also known by its various forms, retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid, vitamin A is well known for its critical role in enhancing immune function. Vitamin A is involved in the development of the immune system and plays regulatory roles in cellular immune responses and humoral (cytokine) immune processes. This essential nutrient has demonstrated a therapeutic effect in the presence of various antigens (4).
Key nutrients for preserving healthy brain function
Omega-3 fatty acids: The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are critical for healthy brain function and development throughout all stages of life. DHA comprises 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the brain and 60% of the PUFAs in the retina of the eyes. Both EPA and DHA play important roles in the developing baby’s brain. Several studies have correlated pregnant women’s fish intake or fish oil supplementation with higher scores for their children on tests of intelligence and brain function in early childhood (5).
When animals are fed diets without omega-3 fatty acids, the amount of DHA in their brains decreases, and they tend to experience deficits in learning and memory. In older adults, lower levels of DHA in the blood have been associated with smaller brain size, a sign of accelerated brain aging (7, 8).
Several studies have indicated that healthy omega-3 levels may influence brain function in people with more mild types of cognitive impairment or age-related decline (8). Recent studies also indicate that omega-3 fatty acid consumption may help promote a positive mood (9).
Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin has long been primarily associated with bone health. In the last twenty years or so, research has revealed that this essential nutrient plays a critical role in virtually every organ system, often related to the key role played by vitamin D in balancing immune function. We now understand that vitamin D is essential for brain formation, structure maintenance, function, and longevity. Brain cells manifest vitamin D receptors and vitamin D's biologically active form (1,25 hydroxyvitaminD3) has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of various protein debris. Recent studies have confirmed an association between mood, clear thinking and vitamin D deficiency. (10)
Key nutrients for preserving healthy vision
- Eye: Omega-3 and vitamin A
- Heart: Omega-3 and vitamin D
- Joints: Omega-3, vitamin D, and pro-resolving mediators
- James, et al. “Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Mediator Production.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000; 71(1): 343S-348S.
- Norling et al. “Resolving Inflammation by using Nutrition Therapy: Roles for Specialized Pro- Resolving Mediators” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017 Mar; 20(2): 145–152.
- Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, et al. Evidence that vitamin D supplementation could reduce risk of influenza and COVID-19 infections and deaths. Nutrients. 2020;12:988;
- Huang et al. “Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System” J Clin Med. 2018 Sep; 7(9): 258.
- Oken et al. “Maternal Fish Consumption, Hair Mercury, and Infant Cognition in a U.S. Cohort” Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Oct; 113(10): 1376–1380.
- Dyall et al. “Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA” Front Aging Neurosci. 2015; 7: 52.
- Tan et al. “Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging” Neurology. 2012 Feb 28; 78(9): 658–664.
- Mazereeuw G et al. “Effects of ω-3 fatty acids on cognitive performance: a meta-analysis” Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jul;33(7):1482.e17-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.12.014. Epub 2012 Feb 3.
- Mocking et al. Meta-analysis and meta-regression of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for major depressive disorder
- Anjum et al. “The Role of Vitamin D in Brain Health: A Mini Literature Review” Cureus. 2018 Jul; 10(7): e2960. These fatty acids are also vital for the maintenance of normal brain function throughout life. They are abundant in the cell membranes of brain cells, preserving cell membrane health and facilitating communication between brain cells (6).