Essential Tips for Vegetarian Omega 3 fatty acid sources

Omega-3 fatty acids are key to healthy ageing throughout life. A few of the omega 3 benefits include fetal development, cardiovascular function, and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Types of  omega-3 fatty acids

  1. alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) It is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet. Our Body breaks ALA into EPA and DHA and then these are used for various purposes.

 

  1. eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) It is the most important of the omega-3 fatty acids. It helps reduce cellular inflammation in the body.

 

  1. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) It is a key component of all cell membranes. It is found plenty in the brain and retina. The brain consists of about 65 % fat and out of this 50 % is DHA.

 

Various vegan omega 3 foods

I have listed a few vegetarian foods which can fulfil the body’s need for omega-3 fatty acids. It is  in  milligrams per serving of ALA

 

  • Flaxseed oil,                                      1 tbsp  726mg
  • Chia seeds,                                        1 ounce has   5060mg 
  • Hemp seed,                                       3tbsp has 2600mg
  • English walnuts,                              1 ounce has 2570mg  
  • Flaxseed, whole,                              1 tbsp has 2350mg 
  • Canola oil,                                         1 tbsp has 1280 mg
  • Soybean oil,                                      1 tbsp has 920 mg
  • Black walnuts,                                  1 ounce has 760 mg
  • Mayonnaise,                                     1 tbsp has 740mg
  • Refried beans,                                  ½ cup 210 mg
  • Kidney beans,                                  ½ cup 100 mg
  • Baked beans                                     ½ cup 70 mg
  • Bread, whole wheat,                       1 slice 40 mg
  • Milk, low-fat (1%),                          1 cup 10 mg
  • Seaweed and algae EPA and DHA content varies depending on the type of algae and the particular product.

 

Vegan Omega 3 supplements

According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH) the USA,

Your body can’t produce essential fatty acids such as ALA. Thus, food and beverages are the only means you can consume it.

Furthermore, your body converts some  ALA into small amounts of  EPA and DHA.

So, getting EPA and DHA from dietary supplements is an effective way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body.

Algae oil

If you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, algae oils are an excellent source of omega-3s for you.

It is beneficial for you to choose an omega supplement with both DHA and EPA .

ALA supplements

Flaxseed, chia seed, and hemp seed supplements contain only the plant-based omega-3 ALA, which is not enough on its own. But still, they can be a super healthy addition to the diet.

 

ALA supplements are not a substitute for fish or algae oil. Also, certain plant-based omega -3 supplements, such as algae may include gelatin.

Gelatin is not suitable for vegetarians and vegans. You should check the label carefully.

 

Why do you need EPA and DHA?

EPA

  • Help reduce cellular inflammation
  • Help reduce neuro-inflammation (depression, ADHD, brain trauma)
  • Maintains a healthy cardiovascular system
  • Useful in the mental development of children
  • May be useful for burning excess fat before it gets stored
  • Helps joint health

 

DHA

  • Helps reduce the entry of enlarged LDL particles into the muscle
  • Can decrease blood triglycerides and increase HDL
  • Essential for a functional nervous system
  • Fights inflammation
  • Supports muscle recovery
  • Can lower blood pressure

 

What are some effects of omega-3s on health?

A lot of studies are being conducted throughout the world to understand how omega-3s  affect human health. The research has shown the following results. 

 

Cardiovascular disease

Many studies show that taking EPA+DHA supplements as part of a healthy eating pattern. They help to keep your heart healthy and may protect you from some heart problems.

Getting more EPA and DHA from foods or dietary supplements lowers triglyceride levels, for example.

 

Whether omega-3 supplements protect you from most heart problems is not clear.

However, the supplements did appear to reduce the risk of heart attacks, especially among African Americans and those who didn’t eat fish very often.

 

Infant health and development

Research says women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume 300–900 mg EPA+DHA per day.

 

A study also found that children had better problem-solving skills at 9 months old. Where the pregnant mother was taking EPA+DHA supplements.

 

Another study shows a better eye and hands coordination in a cognitive assessment of children 2.5 y. Where the mother was taking EPA+DHA supplements during pregnancy.

 

Cancer prevention

Some studies suggest that people who get more omega-3s from foods and dietary supplements may have a lower risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

However,  clinical trials in progress will help clarify whether omega-3s affect cancer risk.

 

Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive function

Research shows that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to be deficient in DHA.

Supplementing them with EPA+DHA reverses this deficiency. Also, improve cognitive functioning in patients with very mild symptoms.

There are conflicting data on the use of omega-3 fatty acids’ cognitive function.

 

Unintended weight loss is a problem that many patients with  Alzheimer’s disease may face. EPA+DHA supplementation has a positive effect on weight gain in patients with  Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Age-related molecular degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a major cause of vision loss among older adults.

Studies suggest that people who get higher amounts of omega-3s from the foods they eat may have a lower risk of developing AMD.

 

Taking omega-3 supplements, once someone has AMD,  does not slow down vision loss or keep the disease from getting worse.

 

Dry eye disease

Dry eye disease occurs when tears don’t provide enough moisture, causing eye discomfort and vision problems.

Some studies show that getting more omega-3s from foods or supplements—EPA and DHA—helps relieve symptoms of dry eye disease. Yet  some studies showed conflicting results.

Further research is needed to know the effects of omega-3s on dry eye disease.

 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

RA causes chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.

Some clinical trials have shown that taking omega-3 supplements may help people with RA may need less pain-relief medication.

It is not clear if the supplements reduce joint pain, swelling, or morning stiffness.

 

Other conditions

Researchers are studying whether taking omega-3 dietary supplements may help lessen some of the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, childhood allergies, and cystic fibrosis. But more research is needed to understand the potential benefits of omega-3s for these and other conditions.

 

Can omega-3s be harmful?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 3 g/day of EPA and DHA combined, including up to 2 g/day from dietary supplements.

Any side effects of taking omega-3 supplements in smaller amounts are usually mild. They include an unpleasant taste in the mouth, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, headache, and smelly sweat.

 

Conclusion

Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital component of the diet as they can minimize inflammation and keep the body healthy

 

We need to include all three main types of omega-3 in the diet. Vegetarians can meet their needs using plant-based sources and algae supplements.

 

You must talk to your doctor before making dietary changes or using supplements.

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