Supplements have gained traction over the years and more people find it quite convenient using them to ‘supplement’ their dietary needs. These dietary supplements are industrially manufactured either as pills, tablets, capsules, or in liquid form, and made readily available for consumption. As times change and people become more absorbed in their daily tasks, taking the time to consider whether the food you’re eating has all the nutritional requirements is becoming more of a task than it should be. This is why dietary supplements are ideal nowadays. There are dietary supplements for minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids where Omega-3 supplements are classified under.
As the name suggests, Omega-3 supplements are manufactured to augment a diet that lacks essential amino acids in the body, and by extension, offer the required benefits under that category. More often than not, this essential form of fat is readily available in fatty fish, but certain nuts, vegetables, and seeds also present plant-based options, which are ideal for vegans. Nonetheless, regardless of the source, omega-3 fatty acids all offer the same dietary requirements necessary for the body.
Why do you need vegan omega-3 supplements?
Just like any other supplement types, omega-3 supplements are especially essential for those who do not take enough omega-3 fatty acids directly from the diet. Being a vegan, especially, limits your food options to a plant-based diet, which makes these supplements all the more important. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are of three types, including ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The latter two are the most active forms of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. What that means is that you need to consume more of EPA and DHA either directly from your tailored plant-based diet or through appropriate vegan omega-3 supplements. In either case, research has introduced potentially limitless benefits of these forms of supplements, which include:
- Improvement of eye health
- Healthy fetal development
- Alleviated risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Enhancement of mental health especially in children
- Improvement of heart and cardiovascular complications
- Memory enhancement
- Reduction of psychotic disorders
- Reduced risk of multiple sclerosis
- Lowered risk of postpartum depression
- Reduced risk of epilepsy, among other extended benefits.
Sources of vegan omega-3 supplements
Apart from fish, omega-3 supplements are also derived from various plants, nuts, and seeds. It is notable that fish actually derive omega-3 from the sea plants they consume, which means vegan omega-3 supplements are just as good for your body’s needs. Some of these plant-based sources of omega-3 supplements are readily edible, which also means that you can tailor your personal diet around such plants to give your body the essential fatty acids it needs for healthy functioning. Those sources of vegan omega-3 supplements include the following types.
They are an excellent source of ALA type of omega-3 fatty acids and can be readily incorporated into the diet as an ingredient to other food types, like smoothies and salads.
Algae and seaweed
Different forms of algae are especially popular among vegans who consume them for the rich omega-3 in them. Ideally, seaweed, spirulina, chlorella, and other algae types are a few of the plant groups that are plentiful in DHA and EPA. The content of these fatty acids, however, varies with the type of algae in question, and by extension, so does the omega-3 supplement from which it is made.
Kidney beans also contain ALA in substantial amounts. Just like any other type of beans, you can have them easily with a simple side dish.
Every cup of walnuts contains a substantial amount of ALA, which you can consume on their own, or blend into other food types, like a salad or yogurt.
You can boil or steam a cup of edamame beans, which you can readily consume as part of a salad or another side dish.
Any of these plant-based variants act as reliable sources of vegan omega-3 supplements with different forms of algae and seaweed acting as the primary sources of these kinds of supplements.
Types of vegan omega-3 supplements
It is already established that vegan omega-3 supplements usually become an option for many when the diet in question is not enough to offer the required capacity of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Besides that, those who normally experience a certain level of inflammation or allergic reactions from taking such foods can readily consume these supplements as an alternative. In so far as these vegan omega-3 supplements are concerned, they include:
These oils are the most beneficial for consumption in terms of the content of EPA and DHA in them as well as availability. They are, therefore, an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegans. You can do some research or work with your healthcare specialist to choose which one is the best for you, and even decide on how much you need to take for optimal health benefits.
Besides algae oils, ALA supplements are also ideal for vegans as they supply ALA fatty acid type to the body.
How much of omega-3 supplements should you take?
While there is no official statement that stipulates just how much of omega-3 supplements you should take, it is ideal to work with your healthcare practitioner to get the best advice on this specific matter. There are many factors that govern just how much supplement is ideal for your unique situation, namely the reasons why you are taking said supplements in the first place, whether the ingredients in use have any possible side effect, stipulated safety risks, how much and for how long you should take a certain dose, among other critical questions to make a note of.
Are there risk factors involved when taking Omega-3 supplements?
The risk factor when consuming vegan omega-3 supplements is usually not from consuming too much of omega-3 fatty acids, but from the extra active ingredients that are added to make the supplement as a whole. It is possible that one of those ingredients may be something you are allergic to, so it is advisable to read the supplement label before you actually use them. Additional risk also comes into question when you take said supplements in conjunction with other medicine types or drugs. Taking different forms of medicine together may present an unforeseen risk factor, which is why working with a certified health care specialist or a professional dietician is required. The brand you choose also matters a great deal since different brands mean different additives and sources, and by extension, different contents in DHA and EPA.
Before you add omega-3 supplements to your diet, it is always good to talk with a healthcare specialist to guide you accordingly.
Photos are pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Dr. Harry Horgan
Dr. Harry from German Neuroscience Center Dubai is a UK-trained Clinical Psychologist, originally from Ireland. He has professional registration in the United Kingdom (HCPC) and in Dubai (DHCC). He completed his master’s degree in Health Psychology with the University of Ulster and completed his doctoral training in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London. He has almost a decade of experience working across a diverse range of mental health and other specialist psychology services in Ireland and the U.K.
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