If you’re interested in nutrition, omega 3 is a term you’ve probably heard. Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA); vital for the normal functioning of the human body. Omega 3 fatty acids are normally obtained from the food we eat. But sometimes we need to supplement our food with extra things to ensure a rounded and healthy diet. Often this is from fish oils, but algae omega 3 is also a great source, providing a more direct and cleaner source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids actually refers to a group of fatty acids. Humans require three types – ALA (α-linolenic acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). Human bodies use ALA to produce DHA and EPA, but they’re not very good at it. So humans should ingest foods containing all three types to ensure that we meet our nutritional needs.
Omega 3 is most frequently supplemented in humans’ diets with fish oils. Fish oils are derived from the remains of marine creatures like sardines or salmon. Certain fish are very high in omega 3 fatty acids. This is not because they’re inherently high in omega 3, but because the fish had a diet high in omega 3 foods. For most small fish, this is because they consume algae that contains omega 3.
One algae group that are particularly high in omega 3, are Schizochytrium micro algae. This particular strain is what is used in most DHA and EPA algae omega 3 supplements. From using Schizochytrium algae oil to enrich milk to enhance the DHA level of eggs, or algae oil more simply as a direct replacement for a cooking oil, this substance is becoming increasingly common. The algae omega 3 fatty acids can be harvested and concentrated into oil or capsules in a controlled laboratory environment. This bypasses the marine creature step, and is a more direct and controlled way in which to produce DHA and EPA, fit for human consumption.
Consuming algae omega 3 is a method of obtaining essential omega 3 nutrients but without consuming marine creatures like fish. This suits vegans, vegetarians or those that want to reduce the amount of meat they eat. It’s also good if you have an allergy to fish or seafood. And it’s great if you want the nutrition without the exposure to the environmental pollution that fish typically contain. Though if you eat small fish specifically for omega 3 intake, you’re often exposing yourself to relatively low amounts of environmental contaminants like mercury. This is shown in the following graph, based on the World Health Organisation’s Expert Consultation on the Benefits and Risks of Fish Consumption.
Fish do provide good nutrition, but are contaminated with environmental pollutants. You can bypass concerns about pollution, by just considering algae omega 3 supplements as your primary source for omega 3 types DHA and EPA.
If you’re interested, read more about vegan omega 3 supplements on some of our other posts. They provide more info, reviews, and product recommendations for vegan omega 3 supplements, supporting a plant based diet. Check out our product recommendations for algae omega 3 supplements here.