Omega-3s are important fatty acids most people forget when switching to a vegan diet.
Because it’s fat, it’s hardly considered an important nutrient, and it’s certainly not something your friends or family members will bug you about when criticizing the vegan diet.
The truth is that despite being fatty acids, they shouldn’t be underestimated. Their consumption is essential to the proper functioning of our bodies.
While plant protein and vitamin B12 are relatively easy supplements to find, vegan omega-3 can be a challenge.
This is because most omega-3 supplements are derived from fish, and while there are some that are flaxseed based, they are often not vegan.
Here is a quick table previewing the vegan omega-3 supplements in this article:
|Vegan Omega 3 Supplement:||Where to Buy:|
|#1 – Future Kind Omega-3||Available at Future Kind|
|#2 – Performance Lab Omega-3||Available at Performance Lab|
|Mary Ruth Liquid Omega-3||Available at Mary Ruth|
|Calgee Omega-3||Available at Calgee|
|Simris Omega-3||Available at Simris|
In this article you will find detailed information about the importance of omega-3, sources of omega-3 in the vegan diet, and supplements you can use to help your diet.
What to Know When Buying an Omega-3 Supplement
Do Vegans Need To Supplement Omega-3?
Individuals who eat an omnivore diet can usually meet their daily needs for these fatty acids with relatively more ease than vegans and vegetarians.
However, vegans and vegetarians can also meet their omega-3 needs through their diet, but they must ensure they eat foods rich in ALA on a daily basis.
Supplementation is not essential, but it can help improve omega-3 intake, especially for people who do not eat foods rich in this fatty acid. 1
There are no official recommended daily doses for EPA and DHA.
The most frequently recommended dosage of DHA supplementation is 200 to 300 mg per day. 1,2
According to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), an intake that appears adequate (AI) is 250 mg of DHA+EPA per day.3
Vegans who do not include omega-3s in their daily diet should consider supplementation of both DHA and EPA.
Format & Composition
Generally, omega-3 supplements are available in oil-based capsules.
Also, most omega-3 supplements are made with fish oil and are therefore neither vegetarian nor vegan.
There are some flaxseed oil supplements, an oil that is rich in ALA (omega-3), but many have capsules made from gelatine, so they’re neither vegan nor vegetarian.
The vegan DHA or EPA supplement is made from a seaweed concentrate.
Seaweed contains small amounts of DHA and EPA. To achieve an adequate intake of these fatty acids through direct consumption, we would have to consume a large amount of seaweed.
5 Best Vegan Omega-3 Supplements
1 – Future Kind Vegan Omega-3
Future Kind is the brand that I typically recommend regardless of the vegan supplement you want to buy, and the reason is quite simple – they create supplements specifically for vegans.
This essentially means that they look at the scientific data that studies the vegan population, and create supplements that address vegans’ nutritional needs.
2 – Performance Lab Vegan Omega-3
Performance Lab is not a vegan brand, but they create many supplements with plant-based ingredients, and their omega-3 supplement is one that is entirely vegan.
According to Performance Lab, it contains algae oil from Life’s Omega 60, which they claim to be 85% more potent than fish oil and a sustainable plant-based form that doesn’t impact marine ecosystems.
3 – Mary Ruth Vegan Omega-3
Mary Ruth is a family owned business that was built in 2014, and they create supplements using organic, vegan, and non-GMO ingredients.
Their vegan omega-3 supplement comes in liquid form, and it contains primarily DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), one of three Omega-3 forms.
It contains only a very small amount of EPA, but there isn’t evidence suggesting that having a higher amount of EPA is necessary for optimal health.
4 – Calgee Vegan Omega-3
Calgee is a brand that specifically sells an omega-3 supplement that is 100% vegan, made in the USA, non-GMO, and that is a member of the 1% for the planet.
The supplement contains 550mg of Omega 3, of which 150mg is EPA, and 300mg is DHA, which is also in line with the recommendations made by international health authorities.
This supplement contains 60 carrageenan-free soft gels and is also an interesting alternative for vegans.
5 – Simris Vegan Omega-3
Simris is the least of popular of the aforementioned brands, but it’s one more alternative to choose from, though it’s way more expensive than any supplement on this list.
Each bottle contains 30 servings, and each serving contains 450mg of ALA, 200mg of DHA, and 50mg of EPA, which is in line with what health authorities recommend.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential to the functioning of the human body.
In general, fat intake in controlled amounts is very important for our body.
The recommended total fat intake in adults is 20 to 35% of total calories. In other words, the intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids should be between 2.5 to 9% of total calories; and the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids should be between 0.5 and 2%.
This is according to World Health Organization.
Types of Omega-3
Within the omega-3 category there are different fatty acids.
The main ones are:
- Alpha Linolenic Acid – ALA
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid – EPA
- Docosahexaenoic Acid – DHA
ALA is an essential fatty acid, which means our body cannot produce it, so we must obtain it through food. Our body converts ALA into EPA, and EPA into DHA.
Therefore, if you’re a vegan and don’t wish to take a supplement, you would have to eat sources rich in ALA, as that would allow you to obtain EPA and DHA.
The Role Omega-3 In Our Body
As I said earlier, omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for our health.
They are involved in the formation of cell membranes and seem to have a crucial function in cell formation, growth and regeneration.
Also during pregnancy and breastfeeding, they help develop the baby’s brain and eye cells.
The omega-3 polyunsaturated fat has anti-inflammatory, anti-arrhythmic, and antithrombotic properties.4
Studies have revealed that in addition to cardiac protection, omega-3 fatty acids also offer substantial protection against metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, neurological degeneration, bone fractures, and cancer. 5
However, the scientific evidence is mixed.
Several studies have indicated the benefits that omega-3 consumption offers to the heart, however, some recent studies have shown that these benefits do not appear to be all that relevant.
A recently published systematic review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that there is high quality evidence that omega-3s have no major positive or negative effects on mortality or cardiovascular episodes and there’s low quality evidence suggesting that omega-3s may have a slight positive effect on coronary heart disease. 6
Because these effects are very small, the authors concluded that supplementing omega-3s is probably not useful in preventing or treating cardiovascular disease. 6
This study also showed moderate evidence that increasing alpha linolenic acid (ALA) consumption may help reduce the risk of arrhythmia.
Why Are Omega-3s Important For Vegan/Vegetarian Diets
Unlike omega-6, the sources of omega-3 in vegetarian diets are limited and their intake is often inadequate. This is the main reason why we need to pay special attention to our omega-3 intake.
EPA and DHA are found in large amounts in fatty fish, in small amounts in eggs, and in very small amounts in seaweed. ALA is abundant in a limited range of plant foods such as nuts, some oils and seeds.
Since vegans do not get EPA and DHA via diet, unless they supplement, they depend on the synthesis that naturally occurs in the body where it uses ALA as the raw material.
Therefore, it is essential that there is a sufficient intake of ALA so that our body can later convert it into EPA and DHA. There are studies that indicate that the conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA is very low and show that the levels of these fatty acids are decreased in the vegan population when compared to the omnivorous population.8
Some studies also show that vegans tend to have an overconsumption of omega-6 and that this excess results in lower levels of EPA and DHA. This is because the enzymes that convert ALA into EPA and DHA also convert LA into other fatty acids, so there is “competition” between them. 8
For this reason, vegetarians are often advised to increase their intake of ALA (omega-3) and decrease their intake of LA (omega-6).
However, there are no articles that have studied whether this strategy is healthy and efficient in increasing the levels of EPA and DHA, while there is also a minimum necessary intake of omega-6 for the proper functioning of our system. 7
The most prudent thing to do seems to not overdo the omega-6 intake, taking no more than the recommended dose and making sure that one is consuming a sufficient daily amount of ALA.
The recommended intake of omega-6 is 14 to 17 grams/day for men and 11 to 12 grams/day for women (non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding). 8
The omega-3 intake recommendation is 1.6 grams/day of ALA for men and 1.1 grams/day for women.
These omega-3 recommendations are intended for the general population and may not be the most appropriate for the vegan population. It has been suggested that omega-3 intake be doubled in the vegan population, going up to 4.4 grams/day. 8
Expert opinions regarding the ratio of omega-6 : omega-3 that should be consumed vary. The ideal seems to be between 1:1 and 4:1. 5,7,8
To achieve the 4:1 ratio, 1.5 to 2% of calories should be obtained from omega-3 and 5.5 to 8% from omega-6.
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers have different needs, probably should take supplementation, and therefore should consult a nutritionist who specializes in this area.
At the moment, there is no evidence indicating that vegans who meet the recommended intake need to supplement EPA or DHA.
Foods Rich in Omega-3
1 tablespoon contains about 1.6 grams of ALA
(must be ground at the time of consumption)
1/2 tbsp contains about 3.7 grams of ALA
(must be eaten raw)
2 tablespoons contain about 4 grams of ALA
28 grams provide about 2.6 grams of ALA
2 tablespoons provide about 1.7 grams of ALA
100 grams contain from 300 to 400 mg of ALA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Olive Oil Contain Omega-3?
Olive oil is especially rich in monounsaturated fat, so it is considered one of the healthiest oils, and is one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean diet.
About 73% is monounsaturated fat, 14% saturated and 10.5% polyunsaturated. 9
Out of the polyunsaturated fat most of it is omega-6 and a very small amount is omega-3.
For example, one tablespoon of olive oil contains 1.37 grams of omega-6 and 0.107 grams of omega-3. 9
Therefore, olive oil is not considered a good source of omega-3s.
Does Egg Contain Omega-3?
Eggs contain small amounts of omega-3s, but here are also fortified eggs that have slightly more omega-3s than conventional eggs.
Consuming eggs does not guarantee an adequate intake of omega-3s in egg-eating diets. It is necessary to consume plant foods that contain higher amounts of omega-3, especially those I mentioned above (flaxseed, chia, hemp).
Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Make You Fat?
Foods rich in fat are generally more caloric and so if we eat too much of them we can easily take in more calories than we expend and this can lead to weight gain.
Although it should not be consumed in excess, there is also a minimum that must be ingested for our body to function well, namely the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6.
What happens in our society today is an over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, leading to very unbalanced omega-6:omega-3 ratios of 15:1 or even 20:1, when in reality, the recommended ratio is about 4:1.
Omega-6 is thought to have pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic properties, and omega-3 is thought to counterbalance these properties by being anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic. 10
The imbalanced ratio of omega-6 : omega-3 in favor of omega-6 appears to contribute to the prevalence of atherosclerosis, obesity and diabetes. 10
Given the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3, it is thought to bring benefits in diseases with a low degree of chronic inflammation such as obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 11
Given the paucity of human studies and contradictory or inconclusive results, what seems to be most prudent at the moment, is to follow the recommendations proposed by health organizations, not exceeding the stipulated daily maximums for each type of fat and trying not to exceed the 4:1 ratio of omega-6: omega-3.
Don’t forget that people with obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases should always get their advice from health professionals, including nutritionists, who will inform you about what is most suitable for your specific case.
Does Omega-3 Lower Cholesterol?
Legitimate scientific evidence in this area is scarce.
Some studies report that DHA supplementation increases LDL levels, whereas, EPA supplementation does not seem to have this effect. 12
The role of omega-3 supplementation is better established in relation to triglycerides. Products containing omega-3s, DHA and EPA, are often prescribed to control hypertriglyceridemia. 12
Is Omega-3 Good For Eye Health?
There is uncertain and inconsistent evidence that omega-3 supplementation helps in relieving the symptoms of dry eye syndrome. 13, 14
However, how these fatty acids act in the body requires further investigation – including to figure out the optimal dosage, ratio of EPA/DHA, and duration of treatment. 13
Other important nutrients for eye health are vitamin A, D, and B12. 13
Is Omega-3 Good For PMS?
I found only two experimental studies with small sample sizes and short experimental periods that drew conclusions in favor of omega-3 supplementation. 15, 16
Omega-3 supplementation may reduce PMS symptoms, however the lack of information does not allow anyone to formulate any kind of recommendation.
Does Omega-3 Improve Sleep?
Omega-3 can improve some aspects of sleep during childhood, especially in children who have sleep problems. The same does not seem to happen in adults. 17
ALA (omega-3) is an essential fatty acid, our body cannot synthesize it, so we must obtain via diet.
Omega-3 source are limited, so it is important to ensure you include enough ALA-rich foods in your daily diet, namely ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and others.
Some people may benefit from omega-3 supplementation (EPA and DHA).
Because this is about health and because each person has his or her individuality, the ideal is to seek help from your doctor and/or nutritionist who specializes in this type of diet before starting any supplementation.
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*Editor’s note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The content of our articles is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always best to speak with your doctor or a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, or exercise routine, or trying a new supplement.
1Silva G. S. O Vegetariano – Guia Essencial Para Uma Alimentação Vegetariana Saudável, Saborosa e Descomplicada. Oficina Do Livro. 2ª edição (2020). (Portuguese book)
2Vegan Health. Daily Needs: Omega-3 Fats. Available at: https://veganhealth.org/daily-needs/
3efsa. Summary of Dietary Reference Values – version 4 (September 2017). Available at: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/assets/DRV_Summary_tables_jan_17.pdf
6Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, Biswas P, Thorpe GC, Moore HJ, Deane KHO, Summerbell CD, Worthington HV, Song F, Hooper L. Omega‐3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 3.
7Vegan Health. Omega-3s Part 2 – Research. Available at: Omega-3s Part 2—Research – Vegan Health
8 Burns-Whitmore B, Froyen E, Heskey C, Parker T, San Pablo G. Alpha-Linolenic and Linoleic Fatty Acids in the Vegan Diet: Do They Require Dietary Reference Intake/Adequate Intake Special Consideration? Nutrients. 2019; 11(10):2365.
9U. S. Department Of Agriculture. FoodData Central: Olive Oil. Disponível em: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103861/nutrients
11Tortosa-Caparrós E, Navas-Carrillo D, Marín F, Orenes-Piñero E. Anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Nov 2;57(16):3421-3429.
13Pellegrini, M.; Senni, C.; Bernabei, F.; Cicero, A.F.G.; Vagge, A.; Maestri, A.; Scorcia, V.; Giannaccare, G. The Role of Nutrition and Nutritional Supplements in Ocular Surface Diseases. Nutrients. 2020, 12, 952.
15Sohrabi N, Kashanian M, Ghafoori SS, Malakouti SK. Evaluation of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: “A pilot trial”. Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Volume 21, Issue 3,2013.
16Behboudi-Gandevani S, Hariri FZ, Moghaddam-Banaem L. The effect of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation on premenstrual syndrome and health-related quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2018 Dec;39(4):266-272.
Here Is Our #1 Recommendation For Vegans
Future Kind’s Essential Vitamins: This is our favorite vegan supplement. It’s not the typical multivitamin because it was formulated to specifically address potential shortcomings in the vegan diet. It contains the essential vitamin B12, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA) delivered in necessary doses so you don’t have to worry about potential deficiencies. If you wish to learn more about it, you can check out the review we did on it.