How Do Vegetarians Get Their Omega 3 Fatty Acids If They Don’t Eat Fish?
Promising research shows results for vegetarians who need more Omega 3 in their diet
Everyone needs Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet, including vegetarians and vegans. Unfortunately for those who do not eat some of the foods high in Omega 3 like fish, this isn’t so easy.
Fish and other seafoods are the principal source of the 2 most important of the essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA. There are other sources of DHA and EPA, however there is far more of these 2 essential fatty acids in oily fish than there is in other foods.
Certainly there are Omega 3 fatty acids found in other food sources. Primary amongst those, in the past, have been beef and eggs.
However changes in modern farming practices have reduced the amount of the Omega 3 fats in beef and eggs to almost nothing. That’s because the Omega 3 fats come from the diet of the animal, and if the animal, or fish, or bird isn’t eating food containing any Omega 3 then they won’t have any to pass on to you.
Beef cattle that eat grass get their Omega 3 fats from the grass. Fish get their Omega 3 fats from the algae that they eat, (or from eating other smaller fish containing Omega 3) and chickens get their Omega 3 from their food as well and pass this along in their eggs.
But beef cattle are now primarily fed on grain, and there is no Omega 3 fats in grain. The same applies to chickens, there is now no Omega 3 fatty acids in their feed and hence almost none in their eggs.
And of course if you’re a vegetarian you won’t be eating beef, chicken or eggs anyway, at least not if you’re a vegan.
So if you’re a vegetarian, and your body requires an adequate intake of the Omega 3 fats for good health, as it does, what do you do?
Well of course you could take high quality fish oil supplements containing DHA and EPA, but if you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan and don’t eat fish then you won’t be taking capsules containing fish oil.
There are certainly plant sources containing Omega 3 fats, probably the most well-known is flax seeds. However what is less well known is that flax seeds contain a different form of Omega 3 fat called ALA, and ALA, to be effective, needs to be converted into DHA and EPA in the body, and this is an extremely inefficient process. Some estimates are that less than 5 percent of ALA is converted into EPA and perhaps even less than 1 percent is converted into DHA.
So whilst it is true that flax seed oil contains high levels of Omega 3 fats, this is in the form of ALA and the resultant benefits to your health are very limited.
There are now some studies suggesting that the oil from Echium seeds contains another form of Omega 3 fat, called SDA, and that this is much more effectively transferred into EPA and DHA.
There are also suggestions that SDA also has some anti-inflammatory effects of it’s own, and is therefore more healthy for the body on its own that ALA is.
There is no doubt that getting an adequate supply of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA is more of a problem for vegetarians and vegans than it is for people who eat fish, or who can take fish oil supplements.
But for those who cannot, promising research may now well be demonstrating that there is a viable alternative for them, and that Echium seed oil capsules may well provide that alternative.
But more work needs to be done. When it is, and it is reported, we will bring it to you.
To read more about Echium seed oil click here.Written by - Omega 3 Fish Oil
Tagged with: vegetarian Omega 3
Filed under: Vegetarian Omega 3
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