Best Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
Whether you're vegan or vegetarian, the best vegan omega-3 supplements can help you get all the fatty acids your body needs from plant sources. Bustle spoke with a plant-based dietician and co-author of The Healthspan Solution, Julieanna Hever, to learn more about looking for a vegan omega-3 supplement. Below, I’ve included the supplements she personally recommends, plus three more picks that meet her dosing criteria.
For some people who take dietary supplements, switching to vegan omega-3s can be difficult. “The main ingredients in many omega-3 supplements can be problematic,” Hever says. “Flaxseed and chia are generally very high in fat. These ingredients may have an impact on your blood cholesterol levels and triglycerides.” While both of these ingredients have excellent anti-inflammatory properties, Hever adds that they're high in fat, so they can't be combined with anything else in your daily intake.
“The best Vegan omega 3 supplement is DHA Omega 3 capsules, which are both EPA and DHA,” Hever tells Bustle. “These are higher than other vegan omega 3s, which are typically supplemented as EPA only.”
Vegans don't consume fish or seafood. There are other products containing omega-3 fatty acids vegans can consume Omega 3 from other sources, such as avocado, nuts and certain algae products. Not only are fish sources of omega-3s more concentrated, the main omega-3 species in fish, EPA, is closer to the plant source of DHA (called ALA). While people who consume EPA often fail to receive the full amount of DHA they need, Hever explains that “EPA is just as important for brain development, and is needed for our brain's ability to make stress-
What Is Omega 3?
An omega 3 fatty acid is a long-chain fatty acid found in plant foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocado. Generally speaking, omega-3s provide benefits:
- All-round health boost.
- Keep your brain functioning as normal as possible.
- Help fight inflammation.
- Help reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- and improve muscle growth.
Here are my top picks for vegan omega-3 supplements: Top Vegan Omega 3 Supplements If you've already made the switch to veganism or are thinking about going vegan, I'd encourage you to buy your supplements from a plant-based company. They know how to make their products in the best way possible, and I've worked with some of them personally.
Omega-3 is virtually the most essential type of fatty acid. It is often categorized under triglycerides as well. The main source of Omega-3 in the diet is through aquatic invertebrates, which receive this vital fatty acid from their diet source, which is algae.
Those people who chose not to include carnivorous elements in their diet lack this fatty acid greatly and show reduced levels of regulatory fatty acids in their system. Any small reduction in the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to disturbance in many regulatory mechanisms of the body, thus creating an imbalance in the homeostatic state.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of long-chain fatty acids that are key to our health and are essential for maintaining a healthy brain, heart, and nerves.
- They are usually found in oily fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, anchovies, sardines, and algae.
- The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).
- The EPA and DHA are plant-based
- Plants and algae also make ALA.
Why are they important for vegetarians? Vegetarians can sometimes have a hard time getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids due to their foods. Instead, supplements can be a safe and effective alternative. This is especially important for a healthy brain, heart and nerves.
Importance Of Taking Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
Just like with eating vegan, making sure you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from food or supplements is essential to optimal health. “This is the one nutrient that has no prescription and is essential in virtually every part of your body,” Hever tells Bustle. “You cannot live without these!”
Vegan omega 3s are a critical component for the brain, eye, and heart health, keeping healthy immune systems and reducing the risk of heart disease and arthritis. Also, Vegan Supplements are best for heart health and your hair and skin. Most dietary omega 3s — like those found in flax and hemp seed oils — are EPA and DHA.
“The number one question I get asked by patients is how to get enough omega-3 in their diet. You can easily get 400-500 mg of EPA and DHA in the form of oily fish or supplement, but sadly the FDA does not recognize fish oil as a supplement,” says Hever. So for the average American, she recommends about 400 mg of EPA and DHA per day for optimal health.
Hever doesn't recommend plant-based products, which don't contain the full amounts of the fatty acids omega 3s and, if eaten over a long period of time, can potentially raise your LDL or “bad” cholesterol and lower your HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. The EPA and DHA found in most supplements come from algae oils extracted and heated or partially heated, and the body breaks them down.
Hever explains that people with diabetes are at increased risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and should strive to get as much omega 3s as they can from food. As a bonus, these healthy fats can help your body resist weight gain and burn more fat in the gym.
People with diabetes should take a couple of tablespoons of kelp capsules a day, and, as I mentioned above, those with other conditions that may be at risk for hypoglycemia should take more, Hever explains. In addition, nature Made Ultimate Omega capsules contain an EPA and DHA supplement, which help maintain good lipid levels, balance out inflammatory markers, support the growth of new cells, and inhibit your liver’s ability to create glucose.
Health Benefits Of Omega 3
The reason it’s so important to take a vegan omega 3 supplement because dietary sources of the fatty acid don't meet the recommended daily levels of these essential fatty acids. According to Hever, a typical vegan would need to take 15 to 25 grams per day of EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, respectively) for optimal health.
So, how do plant-based Omega 3s add up? What’s the catch? There are some serious health benefits associated with consuming non-vegan omega 3 supplements. Here’s one reason that a vegan omega-3 supplement is a smart move: Heart health: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a potent blocker of fatty acid receptors on the surface of cardiac muscle cells.
Omega 3 fatty acids are used to make drugs, foods, and cosmetics that can benefit your skin, heart, brain, and joints. Our bodies cannot produce enough omega 3 fatty acids, so it's important to have them in our diet. However, if you don't eat many plants, getting the recommended daily dose of omega 3 can be difficult.
Hever explains that a plant-based diet can make you less healthy because it lacks the essential amino acids we need to stay healthy. “Plant foods don’t contain much of the essential amino acids (essential to building proteins and repairing tissue), and we need those to get the essential fatty acids our bodies produce, like omega 3 fatty acids,” she tells Bustle.
Omegas 3, called ω-3 fatty acids, are essential to your health and well-being because they promote eye and brain function, reduce inflammation, and support the nervous system. A proper intake of omega-3s has been linked to better functioning in brain regions related to memory, attention, learning, and mood. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids per day in all individuals.
Omega 3 From Plants
Hever says that Vega Uno is a strong vegan omega-3 supplement. “You don’t need much to get good amounts, and this product is more plant-based than most of the others on the market,” she says. Another product is the Kaptur Healthy Indulgence Vega Uno.
This other Vega Uno product boasts better taste than its partner brand, and Hever says it’s “more of a concentrated ingredient to make sure that you get good amounts and good flavonoids.” I prefer this product because the flavour is much more palatable for me. It tastes a little bit less like spinach and kale and a bit more of a banana-type flavour. Truvida Everyday Pure Omega-3 Oil is a go-to supplement for Hever for everyday use.
If you're vegetarian or vegan, you may want to consider a vegetarian omega-3 supplement like Capsugel Hemp Omega-3 Plus, a plant-based omega-3 rich in vegetable fats. “It has a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than flax and chia, and more omega-3's than walnuts and flax,” Hever tells Bustle. Hemp is one of many plants that have been used for centuries.
Omega-3s are super important because your body can’t produce them on its own. According to Hever, just two to three grams of Omega-3 fats can prevent heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and even some types of cancer.
This includes both the fats (cholecalciferol and alpha-linolenic acid) and the EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) found in plant-based foods like oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. The specific plant-based omega-3s that Hever prefers to use are EPA/DHA, Kwangsuyong MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) and cannabis Sativa (THC).
“Each of these supplements is made of mostly plants, which are great for gut health and have the added benefit of the beneficial cannabinoids, the psychoactive part of the plant,” explains Hever. However, she says that CBD alone isn't as powerful as the plant-based Omega-3.
More and more brands are adding plant-based omega-3s to their supplements because it's much easier and cheaper than extracting animal-based omega-3s from fish or marine sources.
What If I Have An Allergy?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released new recommendations for how much omega-3 we need in our diet. If you have an allergy to certain fish, soy, or other plant-based omega-3s (e.g. a serious peanut allergy), or you’re taking other medication, Hever recommends speaking to your doctor first. “Some allergens do not tolerate certain omega-3s.
Certain reactions to fish may occur, triggering a withdrawal from taking a fish oil supplement. Also, if you have food allergies to seafood, it’s vital that you avoid fish oil supplements,” she says. So, how much Omega-3 do we need? According to Hever, everyone needs a daily dose of fatty acids (ones that aren’t found in animal foods) to survive.
Hever explains that vegan omega-3s don't contain omega-6s, the so-called “bad fats,” and may actually have a protective effect on the immune system. So, if you have a food allergy or have noticed your immune system in overdrive after eating certain food products, a vegan omega-3 supplement is a great supplement to take.
How Many Vegan Omega-3s Do I Need? To get the amount you need, Hever recommends taking an omega-3 supplement every three to four hours. Your average person needs around 1.8 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Hever says your age and sex are both significant factors in determining how much omega-3 you need. For example, on average, a 22-year-old woman needs 18 mg of EPA and DHA per day; a man of the same age needs 29 mg.
How Do You Know Whether A Vegan Omega 3 Supplement Is Right For You?
“It’s important that a plant-based omega-3 supplement is ‘pure' and contains no natural food sources. The most popular omega-3 supplements that come from fish oil — EPA and DHA — are the best of the breed but can cause side effects like heartburn or stomachaches if you eat them in large doses. “The one thing you should look for when buying a vegan omega-3 supplement is something that contains a blend of EPA and DHA rather than just one particular type of omega-3.
Because we know EPA and DHA have different roles within the body, they should be taken from different plants. In addition, omega-3 supplements are not health foods per se — people taking them as pills aren't necessarily getting all the benefits they're supposed to provide.
“The best vegan omega-3 supplement should be vegan, must be distributed as a supplement, and contain at least 400 IU per serving,” Hever tells Bustle. (Hever's dose recommendations range from 400-700 IU per day.) “Vegan omega-3 supplements should also contain essential fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as well as essential amino acids (IRA), vitamin A and vitamin C,” Hever adds.
And when you are talking about vegan omega-3 supplements, you want ones that are labelled plant-based. This is important because plant-based omega-3s, unlike animal-based omega-3s, are water-soluble and therefore won't get stuck in your digestive tract. Vita-Robate is a vegan, plant-based source of omega-3s that Hever recommends for her patients.
How To Choose Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
First, a quick primer on how you're supposed to go about choosing a vegan omega-3 supplement: A rule of thumb is to go with plant-based sources since many are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
For those worried about contaminating their supplements with animal fat, Dr. Martens recommends adding extra vitamins and minerals, like vitamin E and vitamin D, to a vegan omega-3 supplement. In addition, some supplements contain meat-derived omega-3s, such as EPA and DHA, which have already been absorbed in the body and can’t be used for any other purpose than as a source of omega-3s.
Hever's recommendations tend to fall into two categories: those with omega-3 fatty acids that are vegan and those that are vegan and gluten-free. She says both are good options, but if you're looking to go further, you can look into fish oil supplements. Her go-to? The Scientifico Titanium, a non-dietary omega-3 supplement available in both capsule and liquid form, which Hever says provides “about six grams of EPA and DHA, and 10 percent to 15 percent of your daily intake” from plant sources.
Another type of vegan omega-3 supplement Hever recommends is those fortified with EPA and DHA, both of which are considered omega-3 fatty acids with “proven effects on cardiovascular health, prostate health, cardiovascular inflammation, and anti-ageing.”
The Best Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
DHA: This fish oil supplement from Frontier Laboratories contains the purest DHA available in the market today, with 2,000 mg per serving (compared to 1,000 mg per serving in the company's fish oil products). DHA is one of the most common omega-3 fatty acids and, according to Hever, is the one you should be taking in the most quantity.
“Taking at least 1,000 mg of DHA daily — plus the amount required to meet the recommended daily intake — is an extremely healthy way to add DHA to your diet,” she says. 5 grams per day, daily: This vegetarian supplement from Spectrum Nutritional offers the purest fish oil I've ever tasted. At 3.5 grams of DHA per serving, it has five times more DHA than a typical fish oil supplement.
In Hever’s opinion, you should be taking at least 3 grams of plant-based omega 3s (e.g. flaxseed, chia seeds, hempseed, and macadamia nuts) at least 3 times a week. Vegan omega 3s are more than the same fatty acids found in fish oil. They also contain plant sterols and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which are great for your heart and brain, she explains. The supplement she recommends is 8 grams of sunflower seed oil and is the recommended amount recommended by the FDA and Health Canada, she explains.
Geeza's, a popular brand of sunflower seed oil, has a product that meets her guidelines and is pretty reasonably priced, she adds. She also mentions that Veg source makes high-quality, protein-rich sunflower seed oil.
Budget For Omega-3 Supplements
Hever's favourite vegan omega-3 supplement is Intelliseed's Vegan CoQ10. A study published in the journal Nutrition Metabolism found that among the eight pre-pubescent boys in the study who consumed CoQ10 supplements, the researchers observed a “statistically significant reduction” in their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, suggesting that CoQ10 plays an important role in cholesterol management.
For men, 25 milligrams is the recommended dosage. And if you're vegan or vegetarian, keep in mind that CoQ10 isn't part of the standard omnivore’s vitamin menu because the pharmaceutical company CoQ10 was sold off by its parent company, Pfizer, in 2005.
The plant-based Omega 3s by Planetary price ranges from $23.00 for a 12-day supply of 300 milligrams of Vitamin D, 100 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid, and 50 milligrams alpha-linolenic acid.
When it comes to choosing the right plant-based omega-3 supplement, Hever says the name of the game is the dose. “As with anything, the higher the dose, the better the absorption,” Hever explains. “If you're starting on plant-based omega 3s, it's probably best to start with a lower dose and work up from there.” When it comes to plant-based omega-3 supplements, Hever says the name of the game is the dose. “As with anything, the higher the dose, the better the absorption.”
It's also worth noting that Hever's omega-3 recommendations differ from The American Dietetic Association, which recommends less than 1 gram of omega-3s per day, to see what you need. And her omega-3 recommendations also differ from the European Food Safety Authority and Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), which recommend 2-3 g per day.
Vegan-friendly Omega-3 supplements can be a key component in helping you reach optimal levels of vitamin D and omega-3s, which play a key role in health and wellness. Try adding more plant-based omega-3 supplements into your diet to achieve optimal levels, or if you want to add a plant-based omega-3 supplement to your existing regimen.
If you're already vegan or vegetarian, nothing stops you from taking omega-3 supplements in the amount of 3 grams a day for maximum absorption. The highest quality plant-based omega 3 supplements are readily available at many natural health stores and are covered by insurance! Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Now that you’ve learned about omega-3 supplements, you can be sure to get enough of the beneficial nutrients in your daily diet. So go out there, follow your vegan dreams, and be well. Happy living!
I trust you enjoyed reading the article on the best vegan Omega 3 supplements. Please stay tuned. There are more blog posts to come very shortly.
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Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me your questions, experience and remarks about the best vegan Omega 3 supplements in the comments section below. You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.
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