Omega-3 for Vegetarians

Omega-3 for Vegetarians

While vegetarians may have generally lower intakes of cholesterol and saturated fat, are they getting enough omega-3?

Sue RaddMar 20, 2023, 12:40 AM

While vegetarians may have generally lower intakes of cholesterol and saturated fat, are they getting enough omega-3?

What is omega-3?

Omega-3 is a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids that the body cannot manufacture, so we must obtain it from our diet. As fish is the primary source of the potent omega-3s called DHA and EPA, vegetarians need to make them from the alpha linolenic acid (ALA) in plant foods.

There’s just one problem: a family of omega-6 fats also exists, which competes for the same enzyme that makes it possible for the body to use ALA. Worse, vegetarian diets usually provide from 14 to 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3, putting the odds of enzyme use in favour of omega-6 rather than omega-3.

Why is omega-3 important?

Omega-3s get incorporated into the walls of every cell in our bodies. They exert anti-inflammatory effects to prevent or better manage arthritis, asthma, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions. They also keep the heart pumping in rhythm and guard against cancer, diabetes and even depression. In babies, omega-3s are vital for optimal development of the brain and vision.

Four ways to get enough

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