Let’s talk about the important of omega-3 fatty acids and some alternatives that are suitable for vegans, like Algae Oil.
Many people meet their omega-3 requirements with food supplements from fish oil.
How can vegans take omega-3 supplementation?
There is a 100% plant source that provides the same essential nutrients as if it were an animal source.
We are talking about Algae Oil.
Within omega-3 fatty acids we can find:
- EPA has anti-thrombotic properties and it protects the cardiovascular system.
- DHA is related to the development of our brain, sight, cognition and better hemodynamic markers.
Why is Omega-3 important?
Figure I. Omega-3 fatty acid structures.
Low omega-3 levels in the organism can lead to:
- A general increase in low-grade systemic inflammation.
- Insulin resistance.
- Alterations in the normal cell production and immune factors.
- Central obesity.
- Higher risk of cardiovascular event due to arteriosclerosis.
Why do we have to take them?
On the contrary, increasing their intake can improve the lipid metabolism thanks to the production of resolvins, protectins and maresins, which:
- Help to prevent the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque.
- Improves the blood flow due to vasodilation.
- Improves the nerve effect on the cardiac tissue.
- Reduces the inflammatory response.
Figure II. Positive physiological effects of increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acid s.
Benefits of Omega 3 supplementation
In fact, the American Heart Association, one of the most important entities that ensures the cardiovascular system of the population, states that:
People with hypertriglyceridemia and risk of suffering a potentially lethal cardiovascular event due to dyslipidemia can take 4g+ of fish oil a day (>2-4g/d EPA+DHA) in order to lower the risk.
The magnitude of the benefits of omega-3 supplementation will depend on:
- Health of the subject
- Fatty acid profile of the subject
- Diet of the subject
The effect of omega-3 supplementation is much lower and even ineffective in an active Japanese man who weighs 60kg and eats raw fish 5 times a week. On the contrary, it can be beneficial for an American man who weighs 115kg and does not eat fish regularly while walking only 3000 steps a day.
Omega 3 and Vegans
Figure III. Blood fatty acid composition of vegan subjects. The first number indicates the length of the chain (14-18-18-20…). The second one indicates the degree of unsaturation (0= saturated, 1= MUFA, >1= PUFA). Trans indicates the isomer from the functional groups in the same side, and the omega-3 status of the blood fatty acids.
Why do vegans have low omega-3 levels?
Because they eat foods that are rich in omega-6 and they mostly consume alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3.
This becomes a problem because ALA needs to transform EPA and DHA through the Delta-6-desaturase enzyme, which shares metabolism with linoelic acid, source of omega-6.
This does not happen because…
They take a lot of omega-6 and barely any omega-3 from a plant-based diet. Therefore, linoleic acid will totally control the activity of the enzyme that synthesizes EPA and DHA from ALA: Consequently, it will not be able to perform its biological functions in the organism.
Figure IV. Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the organism related to the activity of delta-6 desaturase.
In addition, this enzyme is sensitive to factors such as:
- Intake of saturated, trans and hydrogenated fat
- Lack of cofactors (deficiency of specific vitamins and minerals)
- Smoking, alcohol and too much caffeine
A poorly planned diet
If we take into account that:
- Many vegans refuse taking food supplementation.
- Sometimes, their diets lack nutrients due to a bad planning.
What options do vegans have?
If we take into account that a vegan can synthesize sub-optimal amounts of EPA and almost no DHA.
The issue is trying to find omega-3 products:
Above all, there are 3 main sources:
- Fish oil
- Cod liver oil
- Krill oil
All of them come from animals
Sometimes, some people will suggest seed oil, which tends two have two main issues:
Omega-3 tends to come in softgels, which have the best oily medium. However, the coating is made from gelatin, obtained from animal cartilage.
|Pumpkin seed oil (curcubita pepo)||500mg|
|100% natural gelatin capsule, glycerine, water|
Figure V. Example of an animal glazing agent in a product made from vegetable oil.
Low Omega-3 content
Vegan omega-3 are those that are made from sources such as linseed or walnut oil.
But let’s have a look at the fatty acid profile of the product:
|Source||ALA %||EPA %||DHA %|
Figure VI. Omega-3 fatty acid composition in linseed and walnut.
The solution: Algae Oil
Algae are the main species that populate the oceanic ecosystem and they have the ability to synthesize omega-3 fatty acids.
There are many types of algae, each one of them synthesizes omega-3 at different rates.
The best species for vegan supplementation is Schizochytrium sp. since it produces a lot of DHA fatty acids. Like we said before, these are the “most difficult” to synthesize for vegans.
Figure VII. Simplified graphic representation of the PUFA metabolism.
Algae oil contains up to a 45% DHA in natural conditions, with usually 0.5% of EPA and ALA.
This becomes a great option for vegans. Actually, it is the most interesting one, because the DHA conversion is more complex and lower than that of ALA and EPA.
Figure VIII. Omega-3 PUFA metabolism and dietary sources.
The best choice for vegans!
Advantages of Algae Oil
A supplement for everyone
Algae oil is not only suitable for vegans.
In fact, it can be used by omnivores who want to increase their docosahexaenoic levels.
Fish oil is a superior source because it has both fatty acids. However, algae oil is a concentrated source of DHA. This makes it extremely useful for neurological alterations such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder (Sarris et al., 2012).
Fish oil supplements have a strong smell.
That is one of the main reasons why many people do not like taking fish oil supplementation.
Another organoleptic advantage from algae oil is that it does not smell, avoiding one of the main reasons why people do not purchase this type of product.
Algae oil does not cause reflux, another classic feature of omega-3 from fish oil. This can be easily avoided by taking the product with a meal.
High quality omega-3 fish oil, like omega-3 by HSNessentials, barely contains any cholesterol. Many times, this information does not appear in the product label because the amount is so low that it cannot be measured with the analyses by the food industry.
Still, we need to take this factor into account.
It does not contain heavy metals or other contaminants
And not only that, fish are also susceptible to the contaminants that are present in the ocean.
That is why some people are worried about the dioxins and heavy metals, apart from other contaminants in fish oil.
Once again, the amount of these compounds in fish oil are minimal, even more so in the products that are registered and sold in the European Union. This is because they have to respect the limits establish in the Regulation (EU) No 78/2005 that modifies the Regulation (EU) no 466/2001 regarding heavy metals.
New Vegan Omega-3 Vegan by HSNessentials
In HSN, we want to make clear that:
We are doing our best to make food supplements suitable for everyone, regardless of their physical condition or diet.
That is why we are eliminating all the allergens from our products. For example, gluten, dairy, soy.
Figure IX. Allergen list from our Evoeaa’s.
Apart from that, we are working to come up with versions of our products so that they will be suitable for vegans.
These are some of the things we have done so far:
- Replacing all our amino acids from animals with amino acids from plants through a natural fermentation process.
- Eliminating animal excipients such as the caseinate from our new CLA powder.
- And also, coming up with new products with this idea in mind.
Figure X. Standardized 40% DHA content in the composition of our Vegan Omega-3.
Due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content, algae oil is quite sensitive to breaking down.
A mechanism known as “lipid peroxidation” which can negatively affect the properties of fatty acids by producing lipid radicals. These can damage the cell membranes and increase the risk of degenerative pathologies.
Figure XI. Scheme of the oxidation of an unsaturated fatty acid until the production of its radicals (alcohols, aldehydes and ketones).
To prevent this, we tend use an antioxidant, which is why it is so common to find vitamin E in oil supplements rich in omega-3.
Figure XII. Increase in the fatty acid stability of an oil subjected to 120ºC for 32h depending on the herb.
This plant is known for having a lot of bioactive antioxidants that help to prevent the lipid breakdown. The study heated the oil until it reach 120ºC to catalyze the peroxidation so that it would happen faster.
The oil remained stable at 60ºC for nothing less than 10 hours thanks to the rosemary content.
An improved oil to take advantage of all its benefits!
What are you waiting for? Give it a try!
- Abdelhamid, A. S., Brown, T. J., Brainard, J. S., Biswas, P., Thorpe, G. C., Moore, H. J., … Hooper, L. (201
- , Telis, N., German, J. B., & Hammock, B. D. (2011). Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health. California Agriculture, 65(3), 106–111.
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