The ABC’s of Omega-3s (Do plant-based sources measure up?)

The term “essential fatty acids” is a common refrain in health-conscious circles. But do you know exactly why your body needs them and which ones are most important? If you’re confused about the “science-y” particulars, never fear, we’ve got your back.

We’ve created an easy-to-understand guide that uncovers the plain facts about the four best essential fatty acids you'll need most to support your healthy lifestyle.

And one more thing: if you’re not keen on fish oil, don’t worry! Keep reading and learn why certain foods and fish-free supplements are just as good, if not better.

OMEGA 101: THE PLAIN FACTS ABOUT FATTY ACIDS EPA (EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID)

One of the most well-known essential fatty acids happens to be EPA, which is short for Eicosapentaenoic Acid.

EPA is an Omega-3 commonly found in seafood such as tuna, trout, salmon, cod, sardines, and select shellfish. That's why most omega supplements in the market are fish derived. But, if you prefer your EPA fish-free, marine algae supplements are just as good, if not better!

When it comes to benefits, EPA is excellent for supporting cardiovascular function, joint health, mood state, and inflammatory response.[i] Plus, EPA's ability to help with menopausal challenges make it a must-have for women's wellness. In fact, one study found EPA reduced the number of hot flashes by 1.58 per day in menopausal women.[ii]

DHA (DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID)

Speaking of popular Omega-3 fatty acids, Docosahexaenoic Acid (or DHA) is just as big of a deal as its EPA sibling. Here's the gist.

Just like EPA, DHA can also be found in many of your favorite kinds of seafood, plus algae. Regarding benefits, DHA shares even more things in common with EPA, given that it provides joint and cardiovascular support as well.

That said, DHA does have a few benefit-related tricks up its sleeve, though. In particular, DHA supports brain function, vision, heart health, and immune system function.

GLA (GAMMA-LINOLENIC ACID)

For as beneficial as EPA and DHA truly are... are those fatty acids fit for a king?

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) is an Omega-6 fatty acid that has been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years when it was discovered in evening primrose. Primrose's GLA contents provided so many incredible benefits that it was dubbed as "the king's cure-all" in Europe.

These days, you can find GLA in many vegetable oils, as well as oats, spirulina, and hemp seeds. As for benefits, GLA has them in spades. GLA promotes healthy eyes, mobility, skin elasticity, weight management, and healthy cellular inflammatory response.

SDA (STEARIDONIC ACID)

Remember all of the awesome benefits we highlighted about EPA? Well, depending on how you're getting your omegas, you might have this fatty acid to thank for it.

Stearidonic Acid (or SDA) is a long-chain Omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in spirulina, hemp, echium, blackcurrant, and Ahiflower oil.[iii]

What makes this fatty acid unique is, when consumed in SDA-rich foods or natural sources, it converts directly to EPA to provide you with the joint, cardiovascular, mood/cognitive, and immune benefits we mentioned earlier.

As a result, this SDA-to-EPA conversion means that you have even more dietary options at your disposal to get the EPA your body needs -- further proving that fish-derived omegas aren't the end-all, be-all of fatty acid uptake.

Vegan-Friendly Options

Not a fan of fish or simply disdain the fish oil burps? Read on…

There are plenty of plant-based alternatives to get your omegas, including flaxseed, pumpkin, chia, and others. But here’s the thing, these plant-based omega sources only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Your body can convert it into EPA or DHA, though this process is highly inefficient.

Marine algae to the rescue!

Marine algae features active EPA and DHA unlike other plant-based sources. The issue with ALA is that your body has to convert this tricky fatty acid into EPA and DHA on its own. Not only that, but our bodies can’t convert ALA into sufficient levels of EPA and DHA.

In other words, most plant-based sources of Omega-3s require an extra step for your body to reap the benefits of EPA and DHA, whereas quality algae products help you skip the hard part to get fatty acid nourishment straight away.

Zenwise® offers a premium, AVA-Certified Vegan Omega-3 sustainably sourced marine algae supplement. This fish-free source of Omega-3 provides 475 mg of EPA and DHA per serving.

Have follow-up questions regarding the world of essential fatty acids and the benefits of a vegan supplement? Our customer service reps can help.

Reach them at support@zenwise.com or M-F from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST at (800) 940-1972. And as always, all Zenwise® products are backed by the "Eat Freely...or its Free" guarantee!

Zenwise. Then Eat.®

[i] https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/eicosapentaenoic-acid-epa

[ii] http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/gme.0b013e3181865386

[iii] https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070114p18.shtml

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