Three fatty acids that make up omega-3 are alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- ALA: You can get ALA from plants such as flaxseed, walnuts and walnut oil, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, soybean, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, perilla seed oil, tofu, chia seeds, hemp seeds, kidney beans
The human body needs ALA to convert it into EPA and DHA. According to information provided by National Institutes of Health Factsheets, “ALA can be converted into EPA and then to DHA, but the conversion is very limited.” Therefore, as it was mentioned in the article, “consuming EPA and DHA directly from foods and/or supplements…” is more practical.
- DHA and EPA: Some of the sources of DHA and EPA are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, albacore tuna, sardines, cod, sword fish, Alaska Pollock, seabass, and other marine life like mussels, oysters, shrimp. Food sources of omega-3 from animal sources include foods fortified with omega-3 including fortified eggs.
Eating fish for the benefit omega-3 fatty acids is not for everyone for different reasons. Vegetarians and vegans who want the benefits of these fatty acids but want to keep their eating practices would benefit from seaweed and algae. Those who don’t have a specific type of diet might also consider the threat of mercury contamination, chlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and other toxins which can infect fish.
- DHA and EPA (vegetarian source): These fatty acids are also found in seaweed and microalgae. Example of these are nori, kelp, wakame, kombu, dulse, and marine microalgae.
According to information provided by National Institutes of Health, fish get their DHA and EPA from microalgae. So, why not get your omega-3 fatty acids straight from the natural vegetarian microalgae?
Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School suggests that “…if you can’t eat fish or don’t like fish, an omega-3 supplement is something to consider. (Algae-based supplements are an option if you are a vegetarian or allergic to fish.).”
Omega-3 from microalgae is the best alternative if you want to avoid eating fish or taking fish oil.