Most people think that the way to make sure you have enough omega 3s in your diet is to either eat fatty fish a few times a week or take a fish oil supplement.
For those of us who don’t eat fish, this could be seen as a bit of a problem, but the good news is that getting your recommended omega-3 intake is just as easy for vegans as it is for omnivores!
What is it?
There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are essential to good health:
- ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid) is beneficial for hair and nails and can be easily added to a plant-based diet by eating flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and leafy vegetables. Note – It is best to grind these seeds as this way they will be better absorbed by the body and easily digested.
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) not only helps with brain function, but also with heart and eye health and your general mood, which is why omega-3 intake is often recommended for patients with depression. DHA is not that easy to find in food, which is why it is often lacking in omega DHA and it can be detrimental to your health if you are.
- Finally, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) together with DHA protects the body from skin diseases such as dandruff, cares for the organs and acts as an insulation against heat loss for the body.
How to get enough
As mentioned above, the best way to get enough of your ALA is to eat plenty of ground chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
DHA and EPA are found in algae oil (which this study has shown to be nutritionally the same as salmon for DHA), as well as in algae such as nori and wakame. By eating these types of sea vegetables, we are going straight to the source and where our fishy friends get their omega 3s from!
What if you don’t get enough
When you lack omega-3s, you may experience dry, bumpy, flaky skin, depressed moods, brittle nails, dry, easy-to-crack hair, or even “brain fog”.
None of these are good and all are avoidable if you pay more attention to eating naturally occurring omega 3s.
Why is it important in winter?
Omega 3 protects our skin from the harsh weather that can leave the skin feeling raw, sore, and quite red! It also relieves joint pain as it promotes fluidity and flexible joints that can suffer more in the cold months.
People with seasonal affective disorders can find winter difficult. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2010, researchers found that omega-3 supplements can actually produce results similar to medical antidepressants in patients, which could help make the winter months more tolerable for those with SAD.
Can I take vegan food supplements?
As we know, it is now easier than ever to be vegan, which means it is easier than ever to make sure our omega-3 levels are being replenished!
Vegan omega-3 supplements are not only cruelty free, they are also better for us health. Standard fish oil often contains traces of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) that were used to make electrical appliances a few decades ago (although it is now banned), but traces can still be found in the ocean.
PCBs are also linked to some types of cancer and can have negative effects on the immune and nervous systems. Fish can also often be contaminated with mercury, which we do not want to ingest at all!
Vegan omega-3 supplements provide all of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids without the cruelties or health risks associated with consuming fish or fish oil.
One company pioneering vegan-friendly Omega 3 is Nothing Fishy, which uses algae that are sustainably grown in a controlled environment to make its vegan Omega 3 tablets, which include DHA.
You want to promote sustainability in every possible way. That’s why your capsules are even delivered in a recycled glass that can be used over and over again.
If you want to try vegan cruelty free Omega 3 (and we recommend it!), Visit Nothing Fishy website at: www.nothingfishy.co and see how great you can feel.
About the author
Rachida Brocklehurst is a journalist and copywriter who runs the vegan website thegreenv.com and also writes the fabulous Vegan City Guides in Vegan Food & Living magazine. She currently lives in Belgium but loves to travel and is passionate about making veganism more accessible and contemporary.