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< Back to Essential Fatty Acids

Brain and body wellness for vegetarians

Omega-3 fatty acids are a hot topic these days – and for good reason! Omega-3 fats are found throughout the cellular membranes of our bodies and research suggests they can positively impact many aspects of our wellbeing including heart and brain health. However, since our bodies don’t produce omega-3 naturally, we can only acquire it by eating foods rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are traditionally sourced from fish oils from salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardine; from green leafy foods, as well as nuts and seeds; and increasingly, from sustainably-sourced oils derived from microalgae.

What are the most beneficial forms of omega-3?
There are three primary types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA (ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The health benefits commonly associated with omega-3 are primarily attributed to EPA or DHA – and unfortunately for those on a plant-based diet, the most common sources of vegetarian omega-3 like flax and walnut only contain ALA. While our bodies can convert ALA to more useful EPA and DHA, studies show that the conversion rate is only about 5%. So while leafy greens, nuts and seeds are all part of a balanced diet, they’re not a direct source of EPA and DHA.

Delicious plant-based omega-3 for a sustainable future.
While fish oil has long been famous for its high EPA and DHA content, fish don’t actually produce omega-3’s themselves. Instead, they accumulate their omega-3 reserves by consuming microalgae. New harvesting and processing technologies have made it possible to derive essential fatty acids directly from the microalgae at higher than previous amounts. As a vegetarian, now you can enjoy all the benefits of higher amounts of EPA and DHA found in fish oil – without the fish!

For example, NutraVege is one Canada’s best-selling plant-based liquid omega-3’s and derived entirely from algal oils high in beneficial EFAs. Their Extra Strength formula contains 1000 mg of EPA+DHA per teaspoon!  This makes it easier for those on a plant-based diet like vegetarians to get the benefits of omega-3 for the maintenance of their overall good health, cardiovascular health, brain function, and more. NutraVege is available across Canada in a range of light, tasty flavours and liquid gels.

Lichen it or not, vegan Vitamin D is here to stay.
Puns aside, many people choose to supplement their diet with both omega-3 and with vitamin D – often called the “sunshine” vitamin. Vitamin D is not naturally present in food sources. Instead, it’s produced by our bodies from exposure to sunlight which is in short supply during the long winter months.

Most Vitamin D supplements are typically derived from lanolin – in other words, sheep wool. So what’s a sun-starved vegan to do? NutraVege now offers their plant-based omega-3 with added Vitamin D derived from lichen. This sustainably-sourced Vitamin D is vegan certified, with no animal substances. Even better, it’s part of every teaspoon of NutraVege +D, providing 1000 IU of Vitamin D with every serving and helping develop and maintain healthy bones and teeth.

What about purity and potency?
When selecting an omega-3 or Vitamin D supplement, choose a product that has been third party tested by a program like PureCheck. That way, you can ensure your omega-3 is high quality – be it sourced from fish oil or algal oil. With PureCheck you can access the third party test results for potency, purity and oxidations tests of each lot of product online (www.purecheck.net) 24/7 to provide assurance you are getting a product that is both potent and pure.

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About the Author: Nature’s Way Team

“Nature’s

Nature’s Way began from a simple desire to do something more for people, to help enhance health and happiness, and is now a recognized leader in nutritional and dietary supplements around the world. Learn more at natureswaycanada.ca.