Omega-3 Supplements Derived From Fish Vs Plants: Understanding The Differences

It is a myth that omega-3 supplements are derived only from fishes. Expert explains about different sources of omega-3.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Nov 03, 2022 10:57 IST
Omega-3 Supplements Derived From Fish Vs Plants: Understanding The Differences

It’s common knowledge that omega-3 is important for keeping one’s body healthy. We also know that fish oil is the most popular source of this essential fatty acid. But do you really know what omega-3 is? Well, omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat the body cannot make on its own. They are an essential fat, which means they are needed for the human body to survive. It is an essential fatty acid that is needed by various organs in your body to stay healthy. In fact, omega-3 is a crucial component of the body's cellular structure – it is part of the membrane that covers the cells in the body.

According to Manish Chowdhary, Co-founder - WOW Life Science, since our body does not make omega-3 naturally, so we have to get it from the foods to maintain our health. omega-3 fatty acids are an amazing energy source for our body and support in keeping our heart, lungs, and immune system healthy. It helps in effective functioning of the body.  Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can improve your heart health by promoting healthy fats in your body and lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels.

Types of omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are three variants of omega-3. They are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). For optimal health, your body should get EPA and DHA in a ratio of 3:2.  ALA is a key essential fatty acid that the body can convert to EPA and then DHA. Our body needs ALA to use it for boosting our energy levels, while EPA is required for keeping bodily functions healthy. DHA is the most important type of omega-3 that is needed to support our brain functions. We need DHA to keep our eyes healthy. It also helps in strengthening joints and boosting male reproductive system. To get sufficient measure of omega-3, you have to choose foods or supplements that are either plant-based or fish and seafood based. ALA is found in plants and seeds, while EPA and DHA are found in fish, seafood, and algae.

Also Read: Physical And Mental Health Benefits Of Omega-3

Difference Between Fish Based and Plant based Omega 3

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Most of us know that fish and certain other seafoods are the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna, Anchovies have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. If you eat non-vegetarian food, the best way you can reap the benefits of omega-3 is by eating fatty fish at least twice per week. However, there are also various plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts that can help you get your daily dose of omega-3. Our modern stress-induced lifestyles often lead to deficiency of omega-3, in such cases you should add omega-3 supplements to your diet. 

The Difference Between Fish-Based And Plant-based or Marine Algae-Based Omega-3

Fish Based and Plant based Omega 3

As mentioned earlier, there are two main sources of omega-3 fatty acids namely the marine sources (fatty fish) and plant-based sources. Fish oil or fatty fish is rich in EPA and DHA and delivers the same to your body. Plant-based omega-3 provides ALA to your body. But we have seen above that DHA is very important for our body, so how do you get that in sufficient amounts without eating fish or fish oil, especially if you are a vegetarian or a vegan.

The answer lies in marine algae or saltwater plants. The omega-3 fatty acids found in marine algae are alike to the ones found in fish oil, making it a good alternative for people, who are vegan or follow a plant-based diet. The algal oil extracted from marine algae is rich in EPA and DHA and provides your body the same benefits as fish oil-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. Marine algae contains the longest chain of omega-3 fatty acids available from any vegan source. Besides, marine algae also have antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage. Health experts say that if you are vegan or vegetarian, you can opt for an algae-based omega-3 supplement.

(With inputs from Manish Chowdhary, Co-founder - WOW Life Science)

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