The world of nutrition and wellness supplements isn’t exactly easy to navigate. There are hundreds of products out there, all claiming to be the best and the most important. However, one of the longest-studied, most-praised of them all is omega-3 fatty acids. There are numerous kinds of vitamins and multivitamins and nutrient pills that you can benefit from, but not all of them are deemed essential. Omega-3s are.
Of course, that doesn’t mean picking out the right omega-3 supplement for you will be simple. Some people opt to get their omega-3s from their diets; there are a handful of foods that, if you eat enough, could give you enough of the crucial nutrient that you can get by without a supplement. There are also various supplements that can give you that magic amount of omega-3s. Zooming in further within that family of supplements, there are numerous sources of omega-3s that each supplement derives the fatty acid from. But whether you’re just looking for your first omega-3 supplement or you’re searching for a new brand or source, there’s a growing argument that vegan omega-3 is the way to go. Here’s everything you need to know about omega-3s and vegan omega-3s so you can make the decision for yourself.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
A good place to start is here: what are these magical fatty acids and why is everybody buzzing about them? The answer is simple: they’re an extremely critical type of fat for the human body that, unlike many other fats, our bodies can’t actually produce them on our own. That’s why we turn to foods or supplements to get the right amount.
In simple terms, omega-3s are critical because they make up parts of cell membranes and are an important part in the function of cell receptors. This means they help maintain the health of everything from our hormones to our hearts to our eyes and vision – and more.
Where Do Omega-3s Come From?
As we mentioned before, people can get omega 3s simply from the foods they eat. But before that, omega-3s originate from marine algae and phytoplankton, which is a major argument for vegan omega-3s – but we’ll touch on that next. The crucial fatty acids then work their way up the food chain and into our diets. There are actually three different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids (all very important and beneficial), two of which originate in algae; those two kinds are then typically found in fish that eat that algae and the fish oil produced from such fish. The other kind of omega 3s can be found in nuts, some edible seeds, and leafy vegetables.
The Benefits of Vegan Omega-3s
Vegan omega-3s are all about cutting out the middleman. In this case, vegan omega-3s come from algae, which, as we mentioned above, is the primary source of two out of three critical kinds of omega-3s. And as you can imagine, for both health and sustainability reasons, there are a handful of benefits of getting your omega-3s straight from the source.
In terms of health, vegan omega-3 supplements that come from algae are the only kind of omega-3s that are naturally bound to phospholipids and glycolipids. This helps enhance absorption by about 50%, and the more efficiently you can absorb the fatty acids, the more you’ll reap the benefits. Heart and bone health maintenance, nervous system support, and critical developmental support for newborns and infants are all part of that list, and with vegan omega-3s, you’re just getting more of what you’re asking for.
On the sustainability side, the benefits might be even more obvious. A small amount of algae (about 7 lbs) is enough to provide a person with a year’s worth of vegan omega-3 supplements. In contrast, others may get their omega-3s from krill oil or fish oil. Krill eat algae, so to get that same amount of omega-3s from krill oil, it takes about 13,600 krill. And fish eat krill, so it takes about 110 fish for a year’s worth of supplements. And to remind you again: the best absorption comes from the omega-3s that are derived from algae, its original source. So why remove hundreds of thousands of fish from the ocean to produce omega-3 supplements, when you could take the vegan route and benefit more from it? And of course, if you actually are vegan, then you’re in luck, because the best option for omega-3s is the one that fits your diet.
The Bottom Line
Fish oil supplements and fish have been well known as an omega 3 source for years, but vegan omega-3s are newer to the scene and are gaining popularity fast. Thankfully, new companies that have both the environment and your best interest in mind have created (possibly perfected) the vegan route for omega-3 supplements, and they’re not hard to find. So whether you’re new to omega-3s, or you’re vegan, or you have an adverse reaction to fish oil or fish, or you’re simply sick of the fish oil burps (yes, that’s a thing), then you’re in luck. Get on the vegan omega-3 train and don’t look back. You’ll thank me for it later.