Does Vegan Omega 3 Actually work?
If you're vegan, you may be wondering if you need to take an omega 3 supplement. After all, omega 3 fatty acids are typically found in fish and other animal products. But there are plenty of vegan-friendly sources of omega 3's, including chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts. So is vegan omega 3 actually beneficial? The science-backed answer is a resounding "yes!"
What Are Vegan Omega 3s?
Omega-three fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that's critical for maintaining cell membranes, reducing inflammation, and supporting cognitive health. The body can't produce omega-threes on its own, so we have to get them from our diet.
Why Do They Matter?
There are three main types of omega-three fatty acids: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). ALA is found in plant-based foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, while EPA and DHA are found in animal products like fish and eggs.
EPA and DHA are the two omega-threes that are most associated with health benefits, but the body can convert a small amount of ALA into EPA and DHA. This conversion is less efficient in people who don't eat animal products, which is why vegans may need to get omega-threes from other sources.
Vegan Omega-Three Supplements Can Boost Brain Health.
One of the most well-known benefits of omega-threes is their ability to support cognitive health. Numerous studies have linked omega-three intake to improved brain function, including better memory and decreased risk of age-related cognitive decline.
How Can You Get Vegan Omega 3s in Your Diet?
There are a number of different ways to get vegan omega 3s in your diet. Here are a few of the most common sources:
- Supplements: Vegan omega-three supplements are typically made from algae, which is a rich source of EPA and DHA.
- Fortified Foods: Some plant-based milks, yogurts, and juices are fortified with omega-threes.
- Plant-Based Oils: You can also get omega-threes from plant-based oils like flaxseed oil and hempseed oil.
- Nuts and Seeds: As mentioned earlier, nuts and seeds like flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are good sources of ALA.
Omega Threes Can Also Help Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal immune response that helps protect the body from infection and injury. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to a number of health problems, including heart disease, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases.
Omega-threes are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, which is why they're often recommended for people with inflammatory conditions like Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Do Vegan Omega-Threes Actually Work?
As mentioned earlier, EPA and DHA are the two omega-threes that are most associated with health benefits, but the body can convert a small amount of ALA into EPA and DHA. This conversion is less efficient in people who don't eat animal products, which is why vegans may need to get omega-threes from other sources.
While the body's conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is not very efficient, vegan omega-three supplements can still provide some benefits. A 2012 study found that taking an algal-derived omega-three supplement for 12 weeks improved memory and reaction time in vegetarians.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Taking Omega 3 Supplements?
While omega-three supplements are generally considered safe, they can interact with certain medications. If you're taking blood thinners or other medications, talk to your doctor before taking an omega-three supplement.
How Do You Choose the Right Vegan Omega 3 Supplement for You?
If you're considering taking a vegan omega-three supplement, it's important to choose one that's high in EPA and DHA. You may also want to look for a supplement that's certified by an organization like the Vegan Society or Choose Cruelty Free.
When it comes to omega-threes in general, there are plenty of vegan-friendly options available. Whether you get your omega-threes from supplements, fortified foods, plant-based oils, or nuts and seeds, you can rest assured that you're getting all the benefits these essential fatty acids have to offer.
Fortified Vegan Foods Rich in Omega 3's.
While some people prefer to take supplements, others get their omega-threes from fortified vegan foods. Here are a few examples of vegan omega-three-rich foods:
- Fortified Milk: There are a number of plant-based milks that are fortified with omega-threes. Look for brands that contain at least 100mg of DHA per serving.
- Fortified Yogurt: You can also find vegan yogurts that are fortified with omega-threes. As with milk, look for brands that contain at least 100mg of DHA per serving.
The Bottom Line.
So there you have it! Vegan omega-threes are definitely beneficial, and there are a number of different ways to get them in your diet. Whether you take a supplement or eat foods that are fortified with omega-threes, you can rest assured that you're getting all the benefits of this essential nutrient.
If you're vegan, you may need to supplement your diet with omega three's. However, there are plenty of vegan sources of this essential nutrient. Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian to see if an omega-three supplement is right for you.
Do you take a vegan omega-three supplement? Let us know in the comments below!