Traditionally associated with ‘oily fish’ and certain types of nuts, essential fatty acids have a reputation for being the good fats that you should include within your diet.
But, if you’re new to the world of supplementation, just want to improve your basic health and fitness, or you’re a hardcore bodybuilder or weekend warrior, you may want a bit more info.
In that case, keep reading…
Why does the body need essential fatty acids?
Essential fatty acids are required as the body converts them into Omega 3 and Omega 6. These, in turn, are essential components to cell membranes. To put it starkly, every tissue in your body requires Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in order to function properly.
Yes, they’re that important.
So, where do you get them from?
Omega 6 fatty acids can be readily obtained from a standard, healthy diet. Omega 3 fatty acids, on the other hand, can be more difficult to obtain. Many people choose to eat at least two portions of oily fish per week, and use olive oil in their cooking - in order to source sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet.
However, that’s not a practical solution for everyone.
The answer? For many people, it’s Omega 3 supplements to complement their nutrition.
There are a number of types of Omega 3 fatty acids, however the ones to really pay attention to are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and Docosapentaenoic Acid (DPA).
You will see many Omega 3 supplements including Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA) within their ingredients.
This is the dietary precursor to EPA, DPA, and DHA.
However, the conversion process of ingested ALA into EPA, DPA and DHA isn’t particularly efficient - this means it’s better to look for Omega 3 supplements that provide EPA, DPA and DHA directly.
Can you get vegan-friendly essential fatty acids?
Whilst essential fatty acids are commonly associated with foodstuffs such as oily fish, it is entirely possible to source EFAs from non-animal sources.
The logical extension of this is that it’s possible to buy vegan EFA supplements.
Plant-based sources of Omega 3 include algal oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, perilla oil, and brussel sprouts.
Of these, perhaps the most important to look for in an EFA supplement is algal oil, as this is one of the few truly vegan sources of both EPA and DHA.
What to look for in a vegan-friendly Omega 3 supplement?
If you’re in the market for an ethical, efficacious, quality vegan-friendly Omega 3 supplement, then there are a number of important characteristics you should be looking for in your chosen supplement.
These characteristics include:
- Vegan-friendly capsules - first, and arguably most importantly, it’s essential that you check that the delivery mechanism of the supplement is actually vegan-friendly. Many Omega 3 supplements take the form of capsules made from gelatine - which is derived from animals. You want to make sure that the vegan Omega 3 supplement you choose uses capsules made from vegetable glycerin or another similar vegetable-based ingredient.
- Vegan-friendly ingredients - this may sound like an obvious point, but double check that the Omega 3 supplement you’re buying is actually vegan! We say this because it’s not always clear - with some brands not being clear about the ingredients of their supplements. Here at Supplement Needs we provide complete transparency about the composition of our supplements.
- Transparency regarding doses - closely related to the above point, it’s important that you choose a vegan Omega 3 supplement that provides 100% transparency as to the dosage of its ingredients. Here at Supplement Needs, we provide exactly that as we understand how important this can be to individuals like you who maintain a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) - if you care about what you put in your body, it’s essential that you check that your chosen Omega 3 supplement has been produced to the highest standards. Look for supplements (such as those produced by Supplement Needs) that are designed and manufactured in line with the Good Manufacturing Practices. These standards cover all aspects of production from ingredients to premises and equipment.
- Credentials - who is responsible for researching and developing your vegan Omega 3 supplement? Do they care about making the best possible product? To ensure you buy the best possible supplements, check that they’ve been produced by a credentialed expert. Here at Supplement Needs, our supplements have been formulated by Dr. Dean St Mart PhD. Dean holds a double-first degree in chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry, as well as PhD in synthetic organic chemistry and fluorescence spectroscopy. Dean has made it his mission to make the very best supplements on the market, with a commitment to quality, transparency and efficacy.
Check those above points and you’ll go a long way to buying the best possible vegan Omega 3 supplement.