Are There Any Plant Based Omega 3 Supplements Worth Using?

Are There Any Plant Based Omega 3 Supplements Worth Using?

I am going to start blogging about the different sources of Omega 3 fatty acid supplements and the degree in which they can improve your health. Pros, cons, and all that jazz.

The new blog series is going to start with a controversial supplement recommendation, plant-based DHA, algal oil.

Pros

Algal DHA rich oil is produced from certain types of algae. Algal oil was developed by NASA-sponsored research in the 80’s to find a plant based food source that can be grown and used in space. 1 It was later discovered that oil extracted from the algae was rich in DHA. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is a big component of the makeup of our brain, skin, testicles, and retinas. 2

In addition, DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in our brain. DHA supplementation is very important for improving cognitive function and brain health. 3

It appears that the quality of DHA found in algal oil is comparable to the quality of the DHA found in fish oil. 4 5 6

Algal oil is a good way for people allergic to seafood, vegetarians, and vegans to get in proper amounts of DHA. Algal oil is also more sustainable to the environment than fish and seafood based omega 3 oils. 7 Finally, the DHA amount of algal oil is comparable to most mid-grade fish oil supplements.

Cons

Algal oil is equivalent in most cases to DHA concentrated fish oil but is extremely expensive in comparison.

The main problem with algae-based DHA (including some DHA fish-based supplements) is the use of hexane and other chemicals to extract the DHA, which leads to a poorer quality DHA supplement. Some algal oil supplements on the market use CO2 extraction instead of hexane that lead to a better quality supplement. 8

Very few algal oil supplements contain algae-based EPA. EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid has been studied for is ability greatly to lower inflammation in the body by the proper formation and use of prostaglandins. EPA also seems to have greater cardiovascular benefits associated with its supplementation than DHA. 9 One good brand of algal oil that contains a good amount of EPA is Nordic Naturals Algae Omega.

Final Verdict

If you are concerned about radiation in the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster contaminating your algal oil, then to my knowledge I cannot recommend any algal oil at this time. I suggest you look further into the disaster and how it is affecting the Pacific Ocean and the West Coast of the United States.

Ultimately, I can only recommend the use of algal oil based omega 3 supplements if you are allergic to seafood or are vegetarian / vegan. For everyone else, I recommend you get your omega 3 supplementation from seafood consumption or fish / krill oil supplementation.

If you choose to supplement with algal oil, I recommend you use Minami VeganDHA or Nordic Naturals Algae Omega.

4 Comments
  1. Which, Fish oil based, O3 supplement is best in your opinion. I prefer liquid in bottle instead of gel caps or capsules.

  2. Hello John,
    In Europe we can get a high quality algal oil called Opti 3 which seems to satisfy your requirements. What is your opinion of this product?
    http://opti3omega.com

    PS Very thoughtful and informative blog!!

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