Unless you live in a coastal town, your fish intake is probably not high enough to balance your Omega-3 levels with the other oils that you consume. We try to eat fish often and I know we still do not get enough to balance Omega-6 Fatty Acids! This is where a Vegan source of Omega-3 becomes important.
The Problem with No Balance
Omega oils are fats that our bodies need in order to function properly. We cannot make a sufficient amount of them ourselves. A number of recent studies have shown that the balance between Omega-6 oils and Omega-3 oils is very important.(1, 2, 3)
- Omega-6 oils: literature shows that they help construct hormones (messengers) that increase inflammation (a good thing as part of your immune system), blood clotting, and new cell production (4).
- Omega-3 oils: literature shows that they work on accomplishing almost the opposite; decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels (5).
When these oils are balanced, production is balanced. When too many Omega-6 oils are consumed in comparison to Omega-3 oils, inflammation, blood clotting, higher blood pressure, and bad cholesterol can increase.
Studies have shown that a diet too high in Omega-6 fatty acids may decrease brain function. (6)
In fact, though we should be maintaining a 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio, we often average a 15:1 or 20:1 ratio with Omega-6s reigning in our body. As I just stated, Omega-6 oils are NOT bad, they are simply over used in the American culture. They are found in high amounts in canola and soy/vegetable oil, which are the most commonly used oils in the restaurant and fast food industry. Omega-6 fats are also found in many other vegetable sources, such as sunflower seeds (sunbutter), many nuts, corn oil, hemp and flax oil, as well as eggs and poultry.
Pre-Conception, Pregnancy and Young Children
While it seems that everyone would eventually realize the effects of an imbalanced diet, women who are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant, and young children are especially in need of Omega balance. Infants’ and young children’s brains are developing rapidly. Omega 3s are necessary for brain development and connections to be created. Science shows that the wonderful myelin sheath over the nerve axons and cell membranes themselves must have enough Omega-3, specifically DHA, in order to function properly (7, 8).
Consuming Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are different types of Omega-3 fatty acids. Most people know that you can get Omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish and krill or taking supplements of the two. Most don’t know that the fatty acids in fish and krill come from what they eat: Algae! Marine Algae, also called algal oil, is eaten by krill and many cold water fish, which we, in turn, catch and consume.
Why not Cut Right to the Source?
A number of people, for good reason, have been concerned over the over-harvesting of fish and krill. Algal oil is completely fish free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It is high in available DHA and a great option for those who do not like the fishy taste of other supplements.
A Vegan Source of Omega 3 DHA Fatty Acids
My recommendation is based on my sponsor, life’sDHA®. You’ll notice that some of my references above will lead you to their website and blog. This is because they have a team of nutritionists and health experts who work on providing science-backed nutrition information. They also have algae-sourced Omega-3 for children and adults. You can also find them on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.