Learn All About Vegan Omega-3 Supplements. Do They Work?

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How many people (or articles) have you seen blabbering on about how vegans don’t get enough nutrients? I’m sure Omega 3 often makes it on that list. But if you’ve read my previous articles about similar nutrients like protein and collagen, you’ll know that’s not true. 

This time I will talk about vegan Omega 3. Is there really such thing? How can vegans get enough of it? Are there supplements that really work?

I know you’ll probably have more questions than that so I’ll make sure to go over the most important ones. No sugar coating, no white lies!

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Omega 3: Its Roles & Benefits In Human Health

This nutrient is a fatty acid, to be exact. Specifically, it pertains to one of the many types of fatty acids, with the others known as Omega 6, 7, and 9. However, unlike Omega 7 and 9, our body cannot produce its own Omega 3 and 6, which is why they are “essential fatty acids”.

The Omega 3 fatty acid is necessary for the integrity of the cell membranes that contain the cell receptors. These membranes and receptors are where the production of hormones and regulation of genetic function begin. Without enough Omega 3, these functions on the cellular level may be compromised.

Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids 

1. Essential

-fatty acids our body cannot produce from scratch, so a dietary source is a must.

  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

2. Non-essential

– the ones our body can produce on its own from other fatty acids.

  • HTA (hexadecatrienoic acid)
  • SDA (stearidonic acid)
  • ETE (eicosatrienoic acid)
  • ETA (eicosatetraenoic acid)
  • HPA (heneicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DPA (docosapentaenoic acid)
  • tetracosapentaenoic acid
  • tetracosahexaenoic acid

Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) that you must balance with Omega 6, another PUFA. Omega 3 or n-3 is known as the anti-inflammatory fatty acid, while Omega 6 or n-3 is pro-inflammatory.

A higher level of n-6 may predispose you to a multitude of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. On the contrary, higher levels of n-3 (or lower ratio) are known to provide the following benefits to human health:

  • Fight against depression and anxiety
  • Prevent eye or vision problems
  • Promote fetal and infant brain health 
  • Reduce triglyceride levels
  • Prevent dangerous blood clot and plaque formation in arteries
  • Reduce and fight inflammation in general
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase levels of good cholesterol
  • Reduce ADHD symptoms among children
  • Reduce resistance to insulin
  • Combat autoimmune disease
  • Alleviate symptoms of mental disorders
  • Fight alzheimer’s disease and mental decline
  • May help to prevent or decrease risk against certain cancers (colon, breast prostate)
  • Lower asthma risk in children and young adults
  • Reduce fats in the liver in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Improve overall bone and joint health by boosting calcium absorption
  • Alleviate severe menstrual pain
  • Improve quality of sleep 
  • Promote healthy skin

Incredibly long, don’t you think so too? That gives you an idea how important it is to have Omega 3s in your diet!

The Omega 3 fatty acid is necessary for the integrity of the cell membranes that contain the cell receptors. These membranes and receptors are where the production of hormones and regulation of genetic function begin. Without enough Omega 3, these functions on the cellular level may be compromised.

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How Much Omega 3 Do You Need?

There is no official RDA for Omega fatty acids. However, as an estimate, health organizations suggest a combination of EPA and DHA with a 250-500mg total each day. Keep in mind though, that you will also have to consider your Omega 6 intake to make sure you’re in the ideal ratio. Or somewhere near at least. 

In general, most sources suggest an Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio of 4:1 as the baseline for a good balance. Lower ratios of 3:1 and 2:1 are said to help prevent and even alleviate health disorders. 

Now, are you wondering why there has to be a ratio?

This is because there is only one type of enzyme that processes both PUFAs for absorption. When there is competition for the same enzyme, then a compromise is inevitable. So if you have too much Omega 6, your body may not absorb Omega 3 properly, and vice versa.

In general, most sources suggest an Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio of 4:1 as the baseline for a good balance. Lower ratios of 3:1 and 2:1 are said to help prevent and even alleviate health disorders.

How Can Vegans Get Omega 3?

Now the most important question of all! What can we, vegans, include in our daily diet to make sure we have enough Omega 3?

But before that, let me talk about the misconceptions you’ve probably heard of already.

When it comes to adding Omega 3 in your diet, it’s important to consider the essential ones. Yes, the ones that our body cannot synthesize independently. These are the fatty acids ALA, EPA, and DHA

I’ve seen and heard a lot of anti-vegans say that vegan sources of Omega 3 only have ALA. Well that’s not really true. If we’re talking about nuts and seeds as sources of Omega 3, then yes you only get ALA. 

While some would believe that it’s okay since ALA can help the body synthesize EPA and DHA, it’s still quite a long shot. This is because only 5-10% of ALA can turn into the other two essential Omega 3s, at the most. 

That’s quite low, right? Moreover, a higher ratio of Omega 6 and 3 will easily reduce this conversion rate at an even lower percentage! But if you think I’ll suggest to stuff yourself with ALA-rich food… no I won’t do that!

Too much ALA is not really the answer. You’ll only end up with health risks!

But don’t lose hope yet! The ocean gods have sent the answer! All while making sure their precious fishies are safe! 

Guess what that is? ALGAES and SEAWEEDS!

Just like fish oils, the most popular sources of Omega 3, algaes and seaweeds are also rich in DHA and EPA! 

So in addition to ALA-rich nuts and seeds, make sure you also have sea plants in your diet. Think of nori, crispy seaweed, spirulina, and also chlorella. They are the best vegan food sources of Omega 3!

Now if you think you can’t consume these everyday, there are also supplements that you can count on. Vegan ones, yes! 

Okay, I know you’ll have new questions at this point.

Do Vegan Omega 3 Supplements Work?

Is plant-based Omega 3 as good as fish oil? Or, is vegan DHA as good as fish oil?

Countless arguments insist that the best omega 3 source is fish oils. But do you know why fishes are rich in omega 3? That’s because their diet consists mainly of algae

Also, there are studies that show algaes are actually extremely rich in EPA and DHA. More importantly, the rise in demand for Omega 3 supplements has made fish sources no longer sustainable.

Now to determine if algae sources are as good as fish oils, let’s look at the bioavailability. This pertains to the actual usefulness of the source-specific nutrient once it is inside the body. Can the body absorb it in significant amounts?

The answer is YES! A food science nutrition study of vegetarian Omega 3s done in 2014 can, in fact, back it up. As it reveals, ALA from nut and seed oils unfortunately do not turn into DHA. However, there were 3 other studies that show how the consumption of algae oil has led to a significant increase in DHA levels!

This means: vegan Omega 3 supplements from algae DOES work, and yes they can compete with fish oil! Actually, algae supplements may even be better!

According to algae researcher Dr. Scott Doughman

Algae oil is more concentrated in omega-3s and in DHA and is thus better formulated for human metabolism.”

This is why, if you’ll notice, Omega 3 supplements from fish oils have a higher recommended dose. Omega 3 supplements from algae have lower doses because of their higher concentration. So even if they’re more expensive, you won’t need as much!

In summary, here’s how they compare against each other:

Algae Oil Supplements

Pros

  • More sustainable
  • No fishy aftertaste and odor
  • Higher concentration

Cons

  • More expensive

Fish Oil Supplements

Pros

  • Cheaper
  • Lower concentration 

Cons

  • Not sustainable
  • Leaves a fishy aftertaste, burp, and odor

Just like fish oils, the most popular sources of Omega 3, algaes and seaweeds are also rich in DHA and EPA!

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FAQs

1. Do chia seeds have omega 3? 

Yes, and in high amounts! In fact, 75% of the fats in chia seeds are Omega 3, with Omega 6 making up 20%. However, these are mostly ALAs only so make sure to also consume foods with DHA and EPA.

2. Do leafy greens have Omega 3? 

Yes. In particular, leafy greens are rich in ALA, one of the 3 essential Omega 3 fatty acids.

3. Does peanut butter have Omega 3? 

It does but only in small amounts, it contains more of the Omega 6 linoleic acid. Peanut butters who claim to be high in Omega 3 are only fortified.

4. Does coconut oil have omega 3?

No, but it does contain medium chain fatty acids, which coconut oil is abundant with. 

Vegan Omega 3 Supplements

These supplements, as you might expect, mostly come from algaes, nuts, and seeds. Are you ready to choose?

Vegan Omega 3 Supplements With Algae

Since algaes are the best source of vegan Omega 3, it’s only given that they are also the most in-demand. If you’re worrying about heavy metals, as with anything from the vast seas, don’t worry! Most manufacturers grow their own algae in laboratories where they can control the conditions. Yes, that means no contaminations! 

If you’re looking for vegan Omega 3 DHA + EPA, this list includes that too!

Brand: NuTru O-Mega Zen3 + EPA 

Source: microalgae oil

Omega 3 Content:

  • DHA 300+mg
  • EPA 150+mg

Others: 

  • Contains carrageenan
  • No gluten
  • No artificial ingredients

Brand: Nordic Naturals Algae Omega 

Source: microalgae

Omega 3 Content:

  • EPA 195mg
  • DHA 390mg
  • Other Omega 3s 130mg

Others:

  • Non-GMO
  • Hexane-free
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Contains carrageenan

Brand: Garden Of Life Minami Algae Omega 3 

Source:  algae oil

Omega 3 Content:

  • DHA 500mg

Others:

  • With astaxanthin
  • Gluten-free 
  • Contains soy
  • Contains carrageenan

Brand: Ovega-3 

Source: algal oil

Omega 3 Content:

  • DHA 270mg
  • EPA 135mg

Others:

  • Contains carrageenan

Brand: Source Naturals Vegan True Non-fish Omega 3

Source: algal oil

Omega 3 Content:

  • DHA 360mg
  • EPA 180mg

Others:

  • No yeast, gluten, or wheat
  • Contains carrageenan
  • No preservatives

Brand; Deva Vegan Non-Fish Omega 3 DHA-EPA 

Source: microalgae oil 

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 180-210mg
  • EPA 90-120mg

Others:

  • Contains carrageenan
  • Yeast-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Hexane-free

Brand: Deva Vegan Omega 3 Non-Fish Delayed Release DHA-EPA 

Source: microalgae oil 

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 120-140mg
  • EPA 60-80mg

Others:

  • Yeast-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Hexane-free

Brand: Amala Vegan Omega 3 DHA+EPA 

Source: algae oil

  • DHA 120mg
  • EPA 72mg
  • DPA 13mg

Others:

  • With Vitamin E
  • Delayed release
  • Yeast-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Hexane-free 
  • Non-GMO 
  • No artificial ingredients
  • Contains soy

Brand: Freshfield Naturals Vegan Omega-3 DHA 

Source: marine algae

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 240mg
  • DPA 25mg

Others:

  • Contains carrageenan
  • Non-GMO

Brand: Testa Omega-3 Algae Oil DHA+EPA  

Source: seaweed extract and algae oil

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 250mg
  • EPA 125mg

Others:

  • Contains carrageenan
  • Toxin-free

Brand: Nested Naturals Vegan Omega-3 

Source: algal oil and green tea extract

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 200mg 
  • EPA 100mg
  • Polyphenols 100mg

Others:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Sustainably-sourced
  • No GMOs, gluten, or soy

Brand: Together Health Omega 3 

Source: algae oil

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 207mg
  • EPA 123mg
  • DPA 22mg

Others:

  • No artificial additives
  • Sustainably grown
  • No wheat, yeast, gluten, or soya
  • Non-GMO
  • Safe for pregnancy
  • Gentle on stomach
  • Contains carrageenan

Brand: Opti3 Vegetology Omega 3 EPA & DHA 

Source: microalgae

Omega 3 content:

  • DHA 532mg
  • EPA 326
  • DPA 58mg

Others:

  • With vitamin d3
  • Hexane-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Safe for kids and pregnant women

Since algaes are the best source of vegan Omega 3, it’s only given that they are also the most in-demand. If you’re worrying about heavy metals, as with anything from the vast seas, don’t worry! Most manufacturers grow their own algae in laboratories where they can control the conditions. Yes, that means no contaminations!

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Vegan Omega 3 Supplements Without Carrageenan

Carrageenans from red seaweeds are often found in soft gel capsule preparations of supplements. If you’re allergic to it or it irritates your digestive system, here are the vegan Omega 3 supplements you can get instead: 

Brand: Deva Premium Vegan Flaxseed Oil Omega 3 

Source: organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed flaxseed oil

Omega 3 content: 

  • 1000mg flaxseed oil with 55% ALA

Others:

  • Yeast-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Hexane-free

Brand: Deva Vegan Omega 3 Non-Fish Delayed Release DHA-EPA 

Source: See above

Omega 3 content: See above

Others:See above

Brand: Sports Research Plant-Based Flaxseed Oil With ALA Omega 3 

Source: cold-pressed flaxseeds

Omega 3 content:

  • ALA 720mg

Others:

  • No soy
  • Gluten-free
  • Wheat-free

Brand: Amala Vegan Omega 3 DHA+EPA 

Source: See above

Omega 3 content: See above

Others: See above

Brand:Nested Naturals Vegan Omega-3  

Source: See above

Omega 3 content: See above

Others: See above

Brand: Opti3 Vegetology Omega 3 EPA & DHA 

Source: See above

Omega 3 content: See above

Others: See above

Vegan Omega 3-6-9 Supplements

Do you want all the Omegas you can get? Try these ones then!

Brand: Purity Products Omega 3-6-9 

Source: flaxseed, oil, borage oil, olive oil, pomegranate oil, and sacha inchi oil

Omega 3 content:

  • ALA 500mg
  • LA 170mg
  • GLA 10mg
  • Oleic acid 680mg​

Other Features:

  • Non-GMO
  • Contains carrageenan
  • Contains soy

Brand: Maryruth Organics Omega 3-6-7-9 Vegan Gummies 

Source: pectin-based from mango, peach and apricot

Omega 3 content:

  • Omega 3- 253mg
  • Omega 6- 70.49mg
  • Omega 7- 6.75mg
  • Omega 9- 90.9mg

Other Features:

  • Non-GMO
  • Bariatric-friendly
  • Free from gluten, wheat, yeast, soy, and sugar
  • Paleo, keto, and celiac-friendly

Now, you might ask: what is the best vegan omega 3 supplement?

Well that depends on your current diet and your nutritional needs. And of course, if you have sensitivities, intolerance, and allergies, you must add that in the equation too. I’d say it’s the best one if:

  • It complements your diet (choose lower dose supplements if you already consume Omega 3 foods)
  • It suits your health profile (you might want to check with your doctor first if you have health issues)
  • It fits your budget

Omega 3 is a fatty acid vital to health, but the supplement form isn’t for everyone. 

BONUS: To learn more about how you can get adequate Omega 3 in your system, check out the video below!

Who Should Not Take Omega 3 Supplements?

Individuals who are:

  • Diagnosed with clotting disorders 
  • Taking antihypertensive, anticoagulant, or antiplatelet medicines
  • Pregnant or nursing (unless supplement is pregnancy-safe)
  • Below 18 years old (unless supplement is child-friendly)
  • Planning or are scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure

Conclusion

Vegan Omega 3s from algaes are an excellent addition to your diet to make sure you get all the essential fatty acids. 

Just remember that you don’t really need a lot of Omega 3 as long as you keep your Omega 6 in check. It’s the ratio that really matters, and not exactly the amount.

Are you taking Omega 3 supplements? Which vegan brand do you trust? Let me know in the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.

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