Algal oil: Vegan omega 3 fatty acids for EPA and DHA

Algal oil Vegan omega 3 fatty acids for EPA and DHA

Your body needs omega-3 as essential fatty acids due to its numerous health benefits as well as protective roles. However, plant-based foods lack the two most important biologically active omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Therefore lacking EPA and DHA are some of the top deficits of a vegan diet in most cases. Fortunately, researchers have found Algal oil as Vegan omega 3 fatty acids for EPA and DHA as an answer to this problem.

Why do omega-3 fatty acids are so important?

Omega 3 fatty acids have many vital functions inside the body, but your body can’t produce on its own. Therefore you need to obtain either from food sources or supplements. Due to increased consumption of omega-6 with abandoned sourced from various oils and reduced consumption of omega-3 fatty with limited source, the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio is rising dangerously inside the body. That has a proinflammatory response rather than anti-inflammatory and thus leads to chronic diseases. Know more about this along with other factors that lead to chronic inflammation and ultimately chronic diseases.

Also, read about 13 powerful anti-inflammatory foods but lesser-known to protect your health.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids to human health are well known. Some of those include :(1)

Reduce the risk of heart disease.

Improve brain function and prevent age-related mental decline

Prevent inflammation, arthritis

Reduce blood pressure (read more about high blood pressure-lowering foods)

Lower LDL cholesterol (also read about cholesterol-lowering foods)

Prevent cancer

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Vision health

and more

Read about 10 health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, daily dose, and food sources

The 3 most important types of omega-3 fatty acids

There are numbers of different kinds of omega-3 fatty acids but not all are equal. Out of all omega-3 fatty acids, the three most important types of omega-3 to human health are ALA, EPA, and DHA. The source of these three omega-3 fatty acids is not very much. Some plant-based foods like chia seed, flaxseed, spinach, walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids as ALA, but plant-based diet missed more biologically active omega 3 fatty acid EPA and DHA.

Although ALA has some health beneficial results it needs to be converted to EPA and DHA for more beneficial results. In humans the conversions are very poor, the reported conversion is about 8% to EPA and 0-4% to DHA. Therefore it is better to obtain EPA and DHA directly from food sources rather than depending on conversion from ALA. But a vegan diet lacks them as these fatty acids are mostly animal-sourced like fatty fish, krill, etc. Apart from other benefits, EPA plays protective roles in human health and DHA improves brain health in general. Fortunately, algal oils come as a vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids for EPA and DHA.

Algal oil Vegan omega 3 fatty acids for EPA and DHA

Algal oil: Vegan omega 3 fatty acids for EPA and DHA

What is algal oil?

Algal oil is derived from marine algae that can also be raised on a farm. Manufacturers extract oil from algal cells for commercialization. A 2018 published scientific review concluded as algal oil offers a very good source of EPA, DHA as well as some other omega 3 fatty acids with positive health effects. (2) A large systematic search and meta-analysis of PubMed, Embase, Cochran Central Register of Controlled Trials and from publication date through March 1, 2019, including clinical studies, as published in Oct. 2019, concluded marine omega 3 fatty acids significantly reduce the progression of heart disease. (3)

Advantage and Disadvantage of Algal Oil

However, the extraction process is difficult as when the algal cell is ruptured, the delicate polyunsaturated fatty acids are exposed to oxidation. Due to this, the fatty acids go rancid. Some manufacturers also use chemical solvents to extract omega-3 from algae. Therefore you need to ensure that no residual solvent remains in the oil. More recently researchers have developed solventless extraction processes as a better extraction process. (4) Fish can accumulate heavy metal toxins like mercury, spoiled fish oil may also produce parasites. And such contaminants may come with your fish oil supplements if not molecularly distilled. On the other hand, Algal oil lacks odor as well as potential contaminants, unlike fish oil. However, before buying, you need to ensure about oil extraction method or absence of the residual solvent with your algal oil, in case of the chemical extraction process.

Also, read how to choose the right cooking oil 

Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for 
educational purpose only,  not intended to provide one to one health 
consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different 
people may have different health condition and may have different reaction 
to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care 
provider before application of any of above information
Source and references:
2.Elina Peltomaa, Matthew D. Johnson, and  Sami J. Taipale,  Marine 
Cryptophytes Are Great Sources of EPA and DHA,Mar Drugs. 2018 Jan; 16(1): 
3.Akira Sekikawa,Chendi Cui, Daisuke Sugiyama, Anthony Fabio,William S. 
Harris and Xiao Zhang,Effect of  High-Dose Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acids on 
Atherosclerosis: A Systematic  Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized 
Clinical Trials,  Nutrients 2019, 11(11), 2599;  
4. R.J. Winwood,  Algal oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, in Food 
Enrichment with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Woodhead Publishing Series in Food 
Science, Technology and Nutrition, 2013, Pages 389-404  
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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