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Unlocking Omega-3s: Essential Insights on a Plant-Based diet

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial polyunsaturated fats that your body needs. There are three main types: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

These healthy fats are like superheroes for your cells.

They help create and maintain cell membranes, regulate blood clotting, keep your artery walls in good shape, and tamp down inflammation.

By doing all this, omega-3s lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They can also help manage conditions like lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and might even offer some protection against certain cancers.

But here’s the catch: Many people in Australia aren’t getting enough omega-3s.

An analysis from 2016 found that a whopping 80% of Aussies aren’t hitting the recommended intake of these fatty acids.

When you don’t get enough omega-3s, your body suffers. You might feel tired all the time, struggle to remember things, deal with dry skin, or even experience heart issues, mood swings, and poor circulation.

These are all signs that your omega-3 levels are too low, and your body isn’t happy about it.

Vegan diets are rich in ALA, which is plentiful in nuts and seeds. However, studies consistently show that vegans tend to have low levels of DHA and EPA, the other important omega-3 fatty acids.

This isn’t just a vegan issue; it affects many Australians since only 20% are meeting their omega-3 needs.

The body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA, but it’s a slow and inefficient process.

You can help this conversion by cutting back on linoleic acid found in oils like safflower, sunflower, and corn oil, and increasing your intake of ALA-rich foods.

While there isn’t a specific omega-3 recommendation just for vegans, research suggests they should aim for 2200–4400mg of ALA daily if they don’t consume direct sources of DHA and EPA.

But for overall health, most health organisations recommend at least 250–500mg of DHA and EPA combined daily for adults.

ALA is found in plant oils, seeds and nuts, like chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, flax seeds and flaxseed oil. DHA and EPA are often called marine omega-3s because they are found originally in algae. DHA and EPA are also found in fish, which get it from the algae they eat.

Some common sources of ALA are:

  • 1 tbsp Canola oil / 1300mg
  • 1 tbsp Flaxseed oil / 7000-8000mg
  • 30g Walnuts / 2500mg
  • 3 tbsp Hemp seeds / 2600mg
  • 30g of Hemp seeds / 3000mg
  • 30g Chia seeds / 5000mg
  • 100g Firm tofu / 400mg

While seaweed (nori) and kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse) does contain DHA and EPA – it’s in small amounts.

In a 30g serving, you get 4-134mg.

So it’s impractical for vegans to meet their EPA/DHA needs from wholefood algae sources alone.

Due to the limited EPA/DHA content in vegan diets, vegans should supplement with 250–500mg of combined EPA/DHA daily for overall well-being.

For pregnant individuals, DHA and EPA are especially crucial for the healthy development of babies.

Unfortunately, only 10% of women of childbearing age meet the recommended DHA intake. Breast milk from plant-based mothers tends to have lower DHA levels compared to omnivorous mothers.

Therefore, pregnant vegans should consider taking a minimum of 300mg of EPA/DHA supplement daily.

Athletes, whether amateur or professional, can benefit from supplementing with 1500-2000mg of EPA/DHA per day for 6-8 weeks to enhance performance, endurance, recovery and reduce fatigue. If you’re regularly engaged in sports or exercise, adjusting your daily intake accordingly might be beneficial.


While ALA is commonly occuring in a vegan diet, DHA and EPA are unfortunately not prevalent in a plant-based diet.

So it’s recommended for vegans to supplement daily with DHA and EPA to ensure they are meeting their required intake.

green nutritionals omega 3 vegan capsules


Green Nutritionals Omega 3 Vegan Capsules

Support your plant-based lifestyle with omega-3 DHA/EPA for health, recovery and performance improvements. All the benefits, without the fish.

One stop hub for plant-based supplements, lifting gear, nutrition and training.

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