Irritated, depressed or anxious? Well, it’s week 9 of the current “shelter-in-place” restrictions during this health crisis, and for some of us there might be a little too much time “Stuck with U,” as Ariana Grande and Beiber put it.
If you are plant-based and don’t eat animal products like fish, you may be suffering from a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. If you don’t get enough omega 3s, symptoms of depression, anxiety, nervousness, and lack of focus can worsen. This is evident from studies showing that these compounds are essential for regulating brain functions and our moods.
Omega-3s also provide our bodies with a number of other benefits, including reducing inflammation that can affect mood, reducing the risk of heart disease, reducing focus, and other important health functions currently important during the coronavirus crisis, which is why Health professionals say it’s important to make sure we’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegetable sources of omega-3 include seeds, nuts, and algae oil
There are 3 types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA, and DHA. The bad news is that most of this can easily get through fish and fish oil. So if you are purely vegan, you may need to add omega-3 oil supplements to your diet (always consult your doctor first), or you can get what you need from:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Algae oil
- Brussels sprouts
- Perilla oil
It is important to maintain your omega-3s during the COVID-19 crisis
The well-known benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (despite the rough name) can help us stay healthy during the COVID-19 health crisis. These include: fighting anxiety and depression, reducing inflammation, and more. Of the various types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA is the most effective at fighting depression and a compound that your body cannot easily make on its own. A recent study found that EPA is as effective as taking an antidepressant at treating patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
The best way for vegans to get omega 3 is through seeds like hemp, chia, and flaxseed, as well as algae oil, which is made from algae. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in soybeans and rapeseed oils. While most non-vegetable eaters get their daily needs from fish, vegetable eaters need to consume more seeds and oils that provide what they need on a daily basis.
They are called omega-3 essential fatty acids because the body cannot make them
It turns out that without the addition of two omega-3 fatty acids, ALA and linoleic acid, the human body cannot make the essential carbon bonds needed to build these long-chain molecules, which is why they are considered essential fatty acids. ALA can be converted to EPA and then to DHA, but the conversion (which occurs primarily in the liver) is very limited, with reported rates of less than 15%. Therefore, doctors recommend that we get our EPA and DHA directly from food. Realistically, dietary supplements are the only viable way to increase the levels of these fatty acids in the body.
ALA is found in vegetable oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. While DHA and EPA are found in fish, fish oils, and krill oils, they are originally synthesized by microalgae, not fish. That is, when fish consume phytoplankton, which consumes microalgae, they accumulate the omega-3 fatty acids in their tissues.
Although the body can convert ALA to DHA and EPA, it is not efficient. The best way to get these two is through dietary supplements, according to a report in Current Diabetes Reviews. When you need omega-3 fatty acids from microalgae oils, you are getting the DHA and EPA you need. Look for vegan sources grown in controlled environments to avoid possible mercury poisoning or ocean contamination. Two good sources if you’re considering a supplement are Noocor Noomega and Nouri’s Digestive Health supplement, which contains Omega 3, 6, and 9.