We’ve all heard how important omega 3 fatty acids are for our health, a concern which is usually answered with fish oil supplements. So, what is a vegan or would-be vegan to do?
If you’re vegan, you’ve most likely been asked by friends, family, and physicians alike, where you get your Omega-3 fatty acids and possibly have been suggested to add in a fish oil supplement. Perhaps you’re thinking of going vegan and have had this very concern. Well, I can tell you from personal experience, that getting in your omegas as a vegan is not a daunting task. But don’t take my word for it–I brought in a specialist.
This video post is the second installation of my interview with the nutrition powerhouse and mastermind of NutritionFacts.org, Dr. Michael Greger addressing the nutrients of greatest concern for those switching to a vegan diet. Last session we took on the monolith of protein and found out its…well..not really an issue. And today we’re moving on to another common concern: Omega-3 fatty acids.
Be sure to check out the video at the top of this post for Dr. Greger’s full answer, but here are some choice nuggets:
“These essential fats are found in…concentrated in…flax seeds, and walnuts, and chia seeds, and hemp seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables. These are the short-chain Omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-Linolenic acid and our bodies can actually elongate these short-chain Omega-3s into the long chain called the marine Omega-3’s: DHA and EPA.
“These long-chain Omega-3s aren’t found naturally, in kind of a terrestrial plant-based diets but actually are made by little algae out in the ocean–that’s where the fish get it from, … . So, if we wanted to get a long chain source of Omega-3’s [EPA and DHA] directly in our diet, we’d cut out the middle fish and take algae based supplements. So then you get the omega-3s without the industrial pollutants that have so contaminated the aquatic food chain, even distilled fish oil capsules. The only contaminant free source are the algae based sources. [tweet this]
“But a third of our brain by weight is DHA, … and so the question is, yes we can make it…but can we make enough for optimal health? That’s still a question that’s up in the air. Maybe not enough for two brains, so women before conception may want to…get a direct source of DHA in their diet which will be from algae-based [supplements].”
“… [A]lgae-based [supplements] is the only way you’re gonna get a contaminant-free source of long-chained omega-3s. So, start taking a DHA … I recommend 250 milligrams of algae-based DHA every day.
“If you do actually measure these long-chain Omega-3 levels in the general US population, vegans have the same level that omnivores, and the rest of the population does.” [tweet this]
I hope you enjoyed hearing Dr. Greger on the topic of Omega-3 fatty acids. You certainly don’t have to eat fish to get your Omega-3s. As Dr. Greger so aptly pointed out, the reason animals products have nutrients we desire is because they get them from eating plants. So cut out the middle animal, and go to the source. Then you get all the pure nutrients without all the extra crap like cholesterol that comes packaged in animal products.
The Omega-3s in fish comes from their consumption of algae, so why not start there? Otherwise it’s like saying, “Hey, I really like your hair color” and then scalping you so I can wear your hair rather than finding out what dye you use.
(You’re welcome for that visual.)
in an older video with some…awesome editing, I went trough the results of my own Omega-3 profile. This was when I ate a raw vegan diet for about 8 months with a lot of greens and no Omega supplement. You can find out my results in this video and I show you the day’s breakdown as well–but suffice it to say, my doctor told me he’d never had anyone’s numbers come back so good and to be sure to stay on my supplement, as he assumed I had to have been on one.
I have receive a multitude of inquiries as to what software I used in that video, so if you want to see how you measure up and or whether you need to grab some algae yourself or pack in your greens, check out Cronometer to track your nutrition. It’s totally free and pretty freakin’ awesome–so awesome that they’re sponsoring this video post to help get this vital information out to you.
Be sure to click the link above or at the bottom of this post to make your profile so they know that Bite Size Vegan sent you. I don’t get any money when you click it, but it lets Cronometer know that good things come to those who support my nuggets….my videos…that’s what they’re called…nuggets…never mind.
I’d love to hear from you on this: What’s been your experience with Omega-3s in your diet? Let me know in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick