Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, which means they are essential to health but cannot be naturally produced by the body. There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids:
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) – critical in supporting healthy regulation of cellular inflammation
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) – essential for brain growth, health and function
A-Linolenic Acid (ALA) – essential for heart health
ALA is found in plant sources such as flaxseed, walnuts, tofu and kale.
EPA and DHA is produced by… wait for it… algae! Contrary to popular belief that EPA and DHA comes only from seafood, in particular fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, fish do not actually produce omega-3 fatty acids; they are merely the middlemen.
Fish get their omega-3s from the consumption of algae, micro-algae in particular, and plankton. They themselves also don’t have the capability of producing omega-3s naturally in their systems – just as we don’t!
Algae can be raised on a farm and yield sustainable DHA that is vegan, kosher and organic. This algae-derived DHA is called algae oil, and is added to food products to ensure that we get enough omega-3s in our diet in a sustainable and humane way.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association evaluated the effects of algal oil capsules and the oil from nutrient-packed salmon. The results found that algae oil DHA capsules and cooked salmon appear to be bioequivalent and provide the same nutritional benefits.
Instead of eating the middlemen and contributing to the overfishing of the world’s oceans, as well as avoiding the accidental consumption of micro-plastics found in the ocean, we can get our DHAs and EPAs from sustainable algae-based supplements readily-available on the market.