When it comes to fatty acids, omega-3s are some of the most important for your body. However, more than 90% of Americans are not meeting the daily recommended intake of this important nutrient. Armed with that knowledge, it’s extremely common for people to turn to fish oil supplements as a way to ensure their bodies are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids.
However, if you are vegan or vegetarian, have a seafood allergy, or are environmentally conscious, you may be wondering if there are substitutes for fish oil available. In short, the answer is yes! There are a variety of alternatives available today, and many of them are just as effective as this popular supplement.
Understanding Fish Oil and Its Importance
Fish oil, derived from oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring, is a popular supplement known for its omega-3 content. Specifically, fish oil is touted for being rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are two omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for overall health, providing benefits such as supporting brain health, heart health, eye health, skin health, and more. Since many people don’t eat enough fish to provide their bodies with adequate amounts of these essential fatty acids, fish oil supplements have become widely popular.
Why Consider Substitutes for Fish Oil?
While fish oil offers many health benefits, there are several reasons why people may seek alternatives. Some of those reasons include lifestyle choices such as following a vegan diet, dietary restrictions such as having a seafood allergy, and personal preferences related to the sustainability and production of these supplements.
If you have chosen to follow a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet, then fish oil supplements likely aren’t for you since they are derived directly from fish. Thus, exploring plant-based alternatives can help you ensure that your body is getting plenty of those ever-important omega-3 fatty acids.
Seafood Allergies or Sensitivities
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to seafood or shellfish, supplementing with fish oil likely isn’t an option for you. Since these supplements are derived from fatty fish, there is a possibility that they can trigger an allergic reaction, so if you have a seafood allergy, your healthcare provider has likely advised you to seek out alternatives.
There are also a variety of personal preferences that may have you looking for a substitute for fish oil. For example, if you are worried about marine contaminants like mercury, then fish oil may not be high on your priority list. Additionally, eating these marine animals and using them as a source for supplements like fish oil is not environmentally sustainable and can be unpleasant for some. Many people find that the strong scent of fish oil can cause bad breath and that the supplements are more likely to give them indigestion. Needless to say, if any of this resonates with you, your personal preferences may be encouraging you to find a healthy, effective alternative.
The Best Vegan Alternatives to Fish Oil Supplements
One of the reasons fish oil is thought of as the best source of omega-3 fatty acids is that it contains both EPA and DHA. However, you may not realize that EPA and DHA aren’t the only two types of omega-3s out there. In fact, there are 11 different types of omega-3 fatty acids, with the three most important being EPA, DHA, and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).
While fish oil contains both EPA and DHA, there are many plant-based foods out there that contain ALA, which your body easily converts into EPA and DHA as needed. What’s more? There’s even one plant-based option that includes all three, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically ALA. They are thought to be one of the densest sources of this important nutrient. What’s more? Flaxseeds are also fantastic sources of other vital nutrients like protein, fiber, and trace minerals which makes them a great addition to any diet. Simply add them to smoothies or oatmeal or mix them with water to use as a substitute for eggs when baking. Alternatively, you can also use flaxseed oil in salad dressings, dips, and sauces.
Small but mighty, chia seeds are packed with essential nutrients, including ALA. These powerhouse seeds also have an abundance of fiber, protein, trace minerals, and antioxidants. Because of their fiber content, chia seeds have garnered a reputation for being particularly beneficial for digestive health. Adding these seeds to your smoothies, oatmeal, salad dressing, or a glass of water is a great way to add omega-3s to your diet while also giving your body a valuable nutritional boost.
Now, onto the superstar plant food that you likely haven’t heard about as a source of omega-3s—edible algae. Edible strains of algae, particularly blue-green algae like spirulina, chlorella, or Organic Wild Microalgae® are becoming increasingly popular because of their impressive nutrient profiles, but many people overlook the fact that they are the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids available to us today. Unlike other plant-based options on this list, edible algae contains all three of the most important types of omega-3s—EPA, DHA, and ALA. Plus, edible strains of blue-green algae also contain a wide array of vital nutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytopigments, and much more.
What’s more? Algae are the reason that fish are such great sources of omega-3s. That’s right! The marine life that is most well-known for its fatty acid content is so rich in these nutrients because they feast on algae. In essence, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and rainbow trout are rich in omega-3s because they get them directly from the best source—algae.
Exploring Non-Vegan Substitutes
While vegan alternatives can provide suitable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, there are also non-vegan substitutes that you may want to consider. Two popular options include krill oil and eggs, both of which can provide essential omega-3 fatty acids for those who do not follow a vegan lifestyle.
Krill oil, derived from tiny, shrimp-like marine creatures called krill, is gaining popularity as a fish oil alternative. Not only does krill oil have both EPA and DHA, but studies suggest that the fatty acids in krill oil may be more easily absorbed and used by your body than those found in fish oil. Additionally, krill oil has more antioxidants than fish oil and tends to be more budget-friendly, which makes it an enticing alternative for many people.
Eggs, a dietary staple for many, can also serve as a substitute for fish oil and provide your body with essential omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and ALA. While all eggs will provide your body with some omega-3s, the challenge here is that not all eggs have the same amount of these fatty acids. The amount of omega-3s that eggs have is highly dependent on where those eggs come from and what type of feed was given to the hens that laid them. If you’re relying on eggs to boost your omega-3 intake, your best bet is to seek out “omega-3 eggs,” which are given feed that is supplemented with flaxseeds.
Choosing the Best Option
With the availability of alternative sources of omega-3s today, there’s never been a better time to reassess what sources you are getting these important fatty acids from. Of course, you could opt to add all of these options to your diet, but for most of us, that isn’t a realistic route. After all, we all have different lifestyles, preferences, and health conditions that impact our dietary decisions, including how we provide our bodies with omega-3 fatty acids.
So, which substitute is the best? If you want to get the most bang for your buck, then algae is the alternative you are looking for. With a combination of EPA, DHA, and ALA alongside other vital nutrients like amino acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins, trace minerals, phytopigments, antioxidants, and more, there is no doubt that algae is the shining star in this line-up of alternatives.
Plus, algae can be found in supplement form, which makes switching from one to the other a breeze. Simply find a high-quality algae supplement and swap it out with your fish oil supplement so you remember to take it as part of your daily routine.
Get Your Daily Dose of Omega-3s
Just because fish oil is a popular omega-3 supplement doesn’t mean it is the best option for everyone. If you are looking for a better alternative, no matter your reasons, Body from New Earth is exactly what you are looking for.
This single-ingredient supplement is made with the world’s most powerful superfood, Organic Wild Microalgae, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids along with a wide variety of other vital nutrients.
The best part? You can put it to the test risk-free with our 90-day money-back guarantee.
At New Earth we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified, organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae®, AFA is a unique type of microalgae that is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, and powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part? We offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.