It's been questioned whether vegans can get enough omega 3 in the form of DHA and EPA since it has been known to be good for your brain. In our body, omega 3 fatty acids are found in the eyes and brain and are essential for normal growth, visual acuity, and cognitive development.
You probably know that you could get enough omega 3 on a vegan diet, but you might be questioning yourself after watching Miley Cyrus's recent podcast video with Joe Rogan. Miley revealed that she quit veganism in 2019 and has been incorporating fish and omega 3 in her diet, which she claims has made her felt sharper.
What is Omega 3, and how much do we need?
Omega 3 is a type of fat. The most known types of it are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). ALA is essential because the body cannot make it, so it has to come from the food. While DHA and EPA actually can be made from ALA by our body.
How much ALA do we need? According to FoodData Central, men need 1.6g of ALA while women need around 1.1g of ALA. How can we get enough of them? One tbsp of whole flaxseed already has 2.56g of ALA, 1 ounce of chia seeds has 5.06g of ALA, 1 tbsp of flaxseed oil has 7.26g of ALA, 1 tbsp of canola oil has 1.28g of ALA, ½ cup frozen edamame has 0.28g of ALA.
And even ALA is in soybeans, tofu, tempeh, and even green leafy vegetables, although it's not as much as it is in flaxseeds and chia seeds. Vegans should have daily flaxseed or chia seeds intake, and they will get enough ALA that will be converted to DHA and EPA. But if you can't find flaxseeds or chia seeds easily, having algae-based omega 3 supplements is another way you can do it.
Does getting DHA and EPA from fish better?
Omega 3, in the form of DHA and EPA in fish oil, has been promoted to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. But science shows the opposite! It has not been clear whether DHA and EPA supplements decrease or lower cardiovascular disease risk, stroke, all-cause mortality, and cardiac death.(1) While consuming flaxseed routinely not only will give you enough omega 3 but can decrease the risk of breast cancer. (2) Why not choose flaxseed instead?
Don't forget to consider the environmental pollution. Many fish in Indonesia contain heavy metals. (3) These heavy metals will be accumulated in our human body and might cause damage or reduced mental and central nervous system function, lower energy levels, and damage to blood composition, lungs, kidneys, bones, liver, and other vital organs. Long term exposure may result in slowly progressing physical, muscular, and Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis. (4)
Getting omega 3 by consuming fish can fulfill your daily needs of omega 3 but might give you other problems. But by getting omega 3 from plant foods, such as flaxseeds and chia seeds, will fulfill your daily needs and will protect you from some of the deadliest diseases in the world.