A hot topic these days, omega-3 fatty acids are indeed essential, and vegans need to get creative to ensure adequate intake! The one supplement I do take pretty regularly (memory-dependent) is my vegan DHA/EPA supplement. I’ve tried a few different brands over the years, and honestly, I just buy whichever ones are cheapest at the time. I usually buy six or so bottles at a time to save on shipping and to ensure that I have them on hand, all the more encouragement in actually taking them.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are two of the omega-3 essential fatty acids that make up much of the brain and help fight depression, Alzheimer’s, and maybe even ADHD. Most readily available food sources are things like salmon. But for vegans and vegetarians, we need to think outside the fish.
Best vegan food sources of omega-3s include flaxseed, flax oil, chia seeds and walnuts. Many other grains and vegetables have omega-3s, but the aforementioned are real powerhouses. They are, however, alpha lenolenic acids (ALA). Basically, what this means is that in the carbon chain that makes up fatty acids, the hydrogen bonds are in different places, which create different kinks in the chain. As with proteins, different shapes equal different properties and attributes. With this in mind, ALA can be converted by the body into DHA. I learned in school that conversion was very poor – about 10%. However, recent studies have shown it might be higher, especially in a body system that is vegan or vegetarian. This reminds me of how folks with low iron can absorb more iron from their food than those with adequate stored iron.
So! Not only do I try to take my V-Pure DHA/EPA supplement,
but I’ve begun to pre-prepare ground flax and chia seeds for my breakfast. You can buy ground flax at the store, but I would advise against it. The fragile omega-3 fatty acids go rancid very quickly, and without knowing how long ago they were ground, I would recommend grinding them yourself. If you don’t grid them, they will probably just pass right through you; your body cannot break down the small, hard seeds. What I’ve begun doing, is blending about a quarter cup of flax and a quarter cup of chia seeds in my blender.
It takes seriously about one minute! Then I put the ground seeds in a jar in the freezer to keep my omega-3s nice and fresh! I sprinkle them on top of my oats and yogurt in the morning with some honey, and it is delicious!