If you’re interested in maintaining a healthy body and rounded diet, omega 3 supplements are potentially useful compliments to a plant-based diet, or a diet that excludes classic sources of omega 3s like fish. But there are a lot of products out there, that all seem different, so what do you need to look for, and which products should you consider? In this post we explain how to find the best vegan omega 3 supplement, depending on where you live.
Ingredients of a vegan omega 3 supplement
Omega 3s that are vital for humans are ALA (α-linolenic acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). Technically, the human body can synthesise DHA and EPA from ALA, although it’s not very good at it (low conversion rate of approximately 5%). So it’s a good idea to obtain all vital omega 3s, ALA & EPA & DHA, from your plant-based diet.
ALA can be sourced from vegetables (radishes), some vegetable oils (canola), nuts (walnuts), seeds (flaxseeds) and soy. DHA and EPA are harder to obtain from plant-based foods as the main sources are marine creatures like certain fish (sardines, salmon). If you can’t obtain them from your diet, it’s a good idea to supplement, with a focus on DHA and EPA.
The best vegan omega 3 oils and capsules will contain DHA & EPA. The majority of vegan omega 3 supplements contain schizochytrium, which is the active ingredient containing DHA & EPA. Schizochytrium are organisms generally considered a type of algae and found originally in coastal marine environments. That said, most schizochytrium used in plant-based omega 3 supplements are grown in a commercial lab environment. This seaweed like organism is a great source of DHA & EPA.
Most supplements contain a bunch of other ingredients such as:
- sunflower or canola oil
- d-alpha tocopherol
- extract of rosemary, green tea
- acidity regulator such as sodium carbonate
- antioxidants like ascorbyl palmitate
These are to bulk, flavour, and preserve the supplement, so that it can sit on your shelf and still be good to eat after a few months. Oils tend to contain higher amounts of sunflower or canola oil, per dose of DHA and EPA.
Is an oil or capsule the best supplement?
The best vegan omega 3 supplements come in two forms: oil or capsules. The first question you need to answer is whether taste or budget is your priority!
The main advantage of purchasing an plant-based oil product is that generally they’re cheaper. Also, some people may enjoy the flavour of the oil, though I suspect this is unlikely! Personally, I found the oil texture and flavour no big deal and readily ate the teaspoon amount with breakfast. I’m more motivated by the best-value product, which the oils tend to be.
The main strength of the capsules are that there isn’t any taste to deal with. They’re also more convenient to bring with you if you’re travelling. Some capsules come individually pressed in a plastic & foil snap-pack, and others in a jar or container. I’d go for the snap-pack for convenience, but the jar for sustainability.
Cost analysis of vegan omega 3 supplements on the market
Most of the algae-based vegan omega 3 supplements sold either online or in the shops are going to be fairly similar. Assuming you purchase from reputable outlets and manufacturers, they’ll be made of the same stuff (Schizochytrium), and may even have 3rd party testing to validate purity claims. In our experience, the main difference is likely to be how much of the active product you’re actually getting for your cash. Another way of putting it is your bang for buck! Consequently, we define the best vegan omega 3 supplement as the most cost-effective product.
We reviewed the US, Canadian, and UK markets seeking the most cost-effective supplements. We calculated for the top-featured and top-reviewed products, how much DHA and EPA you got in the supplement, with respect to cost. We calculated the cost per mg of DHA and EPA in each supplement.
The following screenshot gives an example of our calculations and review.
Results – the best vegan omega 3 supplement
Check out our top results as follows, for oils and capsules, for each country.
The UK market is fairly level and competitive with a median price for DHA and EPA at £0.11 per g and £0.21 per g respectively. There are a few leading brands, but we found that most cost-effective and well-regarded choices for oil and capsules in the UK were as follows:
|Norsan Vegan Omega 3 oil||Opti3 Omega 3 EPA & DHA capsules (2 Pack)|
|Great deal from Norsan, as they’re offering market-leading pricing, that we’d normally see from a large bottle (500ml), but with a small bottle purchase (200ml).||By offering a twin pack, Opti3 manage to win the best value chart.|
Like the UK, the US has good competition amongst its omega 3 suppliers, with a median price for DHA and EPA at $0.20 US per g and $0.32 US per g respectively. We found the the most cost-effective and well-regarded products were:
|NutraVege Omega 3 Plant Sourced oil (Extra strength)||Testa Omega 3 DHA EPA capsules|
|Nutravege reign supreme for value, with the extra-strength product and large bottle (500ml).||We like Testa capsules as they’re very competitively priced, considering the convenience and packaging factors.|
Canada has fewer options to choose from than the US and UK, but there are still plenty of options to choose from. The market medians tended to be around $0.20 CAD per g of DHA, and $0.32 CAD per g of EPA. From our selection we found the most cost effective products in CANADA are:
|NutraVege Omega 3 Plant Sourced oil (Extra strength)||Deva Omega 3 DHA EPA capsules|
|Like the US, Nutravege’s 500ml extra strength bottle is the product to beat from a value perspective.||We found Deva to offer the best value combination of DHA and EPA in capsule form.|
We hope you find the content useful! FYI, the links I’ve shared above are to the products on Amazon, which means if you click through a make a purchase after clicking through, the team here gets a very small % commission at no extra cost to you. See our disclosure page.