-Omega-3 fatty acids are widely recognized as one of nature’s most valuable nutrients. They support not only healthy cardiovascular function, but have also been linked to numerous other health benefits including brain development and skin elasticity.
-Omega-3’s were originally discovered to be in high concentrations in fish and other seafood, but nutritionists now realize that algae is nature’s best source for omega-3’s.
-When comparing all of the plant-based sources for omega-3’s, algal oil is the only one that provides all three of the essential omega-3 fatty acids; ALA, EPA, and DHA.
Over the past ten years or so, there has been a surging interest in omega-3 fatty acids and their nutritional benefits. The PubMed research database contains nearly 30,000 published studies investigating omega-3 fatty acids. These studies have explored possible links between omega-3’s and a wide array of health conditions and benefits.
These studies have explored possible links between omega-3’s and a wide array of health conditions and benefits.The majority of the studies are associated with cardiovascular health and the prevention of heart-related illnesses. However, we are now learning that omega-3’s provide numerous additional benefits ranging from brain development to skin health.[JO1]
There are three important omega-3 fatty acids:
1. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
2. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
3. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
Of these three, ALA is considered the most vital because it can only come from dietary intake. ALA can then act as a precursor for the body to produce DHA and EPA from ALA. However, the ideal source for omega-3’s should contain all three.
According to one 2013 published review study, omega-3’s provide critical cardio-related health benefits, such as regulating blood pressure and reducing the likelihood of heart attack and stroke. 
In addition, Omega-3’s have also been shown to:
-Support brain health and cognitive function 
-Help treat anxiety and depression 
-Provide essential nutrients to our eyes and help prevent macular degeneration  --Support a healthy brain, vision, developmental skills and learning capacity in newborn children when the mother consumes omega-3’s during pregnancy 
-Help improve symptoms associated with attentiveness, restlessness, aggression, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity in children with ADHD 
-Reduce risks and symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome 
-Reduce chronic inflammation 
-Reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disorders 
-Reduce symptoms associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder 
-Help retard the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease 
-Lower the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer 
-Lower the risk of developing asthma in children and young adults 
-Reduce liver fat in people with fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic) 
-Help build strong bones and joints 
-Help mitigate the symptoms of PMS 
-Help improve the length and quality of sleep , and
-Improve the health and appearance of skin 
The most common dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids is through consuming fish or fish oils. Because of this, The American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat fish, or fish oil supplements, at least twice a week.
What About People Who Don’t Eat Fish?
What about people who eat plant-based diets? Do they need to add fish to their diets in order to obtain their omega-3’s?Fortunately, the answer is no. There are some excellent plant-based sources for omega-3’s, starting with the plants that fish eat themselves; Algae.
ALGAE OMEGA: Algal oil is an oil derived from algae. Algae is recognized by most nutritionists as being the preferred source of all three, essential omega-3’s. Most plant-based sources of omega-3’s only contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). ALA must then act as a precursor for the body’s production of both EPA and DHA. The process of conversion from ALA into DHA and EPA, however, is very inefficient and unreliable. Therefore, it is best to find a vegan source for omega-3’s that contains all three to begin with.
Algal oil is that vegan source. In fact, it is the only plant-based source for omega-3’s that contains all three; ALA, DHA, and EPA .And not only that, fish, as it turns out, are also unable to produce DHA and EPA on their own. How do fish obtain DHA and EPA? They get both from eating algae!
Research has shown that the quantity and quality of omega-3’s in algal oil is comparable or superior to fish oil sources. When choosing to add algal oil to our diets, it is important to know that there are different varieties of algal oil. If you purchase the variety which is used for cooking, the levels of omega-3’s are greatly reduced.
In order to take full advantage of the benefits Algae Omega-3's have to offer, vegans (and most vegetarians) should supplement every day with 250-350 mgs of raw, unadulterated algal oil. Benefits take about a month to realize, but this powerful nutrient is worth being patient for.
CHIA SEEDS: Chia seeds are known for numerous health benefits, including being an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. They’re also an excellent source for ALA, but do not contain either EPA or DHA. One ounce of chia seeds can deliver as much as 5 grams of ALA.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Brussels sprouts are not only a source for ALA, they are also high in vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber. One half cup of Brussels sprouts contains about 44mg of ALA.
HEMP SEEDS: Along with being a source for ALA, hemp seeds also contain protein, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Each ounce of hemp seeds contains 6 grams of ALA.
WALNUTS: A single ounce of walnuts can provide 2.5 grams of ALA.
FLAXSEEDS: Flaxseeds are an excellent source for many nutrients, including protein, fiber, magnesium, and manganese. An ounce of flaxseeds also provides over 6 grams of ALA.
PERILLA SEED OIL: Perilla oil contains a very high concentration of ALA, as much as 9 grams per each tablespoon serving.
It should be noted that one research study , that reviewed ten previous studies that investigated various plant-based sources for omega-3’s, concluded that algal oil was the only source that provided DHA, either directly or indirectly. The ALA from nut and seed oils did not convert to DHA in the test subjects. Algal oil was the only plant-based source studied that provided all three, essential omega-3 fatty acids.
The Discovery of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Back in the 1960’s, some scientists who were studying Eskimo populations in Greenland noticed that Eskimos appeared to have less incidence of heart related diseases. Naturally, that led to questions as to why this was the case. So, they began to study Eskimos and their diets.
Their first realization, reported in a published 1972 study, was that Eskimos had lower levels of fat in their blood . However, it appeared that Eskimos consumed the same amount of fat in their diets. Eskimos, compared to most people of course, have a limited number of dietary choices. They eat fish; a lot of fish. Researchers wondered if perhaps it was the type of fat that they consumed; the fat from the fish oil, that resulted in lower blood fat (lipid) levels. This led to the discovery of omega-3’s.
In another study, published in 1976 , researchers suggested that perhaps it was the high concentration of omega-3’s in the Eskimo diet that resulted in fewer incidences of cardiovascular diseases. To test their theory, they ran a comparative study between Eskimos living in Greenland and ethnic Eskimos who now lived in Denmark and ate a diet comparable to a normal Western European diet. What they discovered was that Eskimos who ate a typical European diet did not have the same heart-related benefits as the native Eskimos, who ate a lot of fish. Once scientists realized that it was diet and not genetics that was at work, the race was on to understand the underlying science behind omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplementing for Plant-Based Diets
People who eat plant-based diets have specific dietary needs, as some important nutritional substances are found primarily in animal products. Omega-3’s are an excellent example of this, since originally they were thought to be available only through the consumption of fish.
Omega-3’s are one of nature’s most valuable nutraceutical ingredients. Fortunately, there are a number of good plant-based sources for omega-3’s, with algal oil being the superior choice.