Plant-Based Diet (Vegan&Vegetarian) and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids get a lot of attention in the nutrition world, and for good reason! Most people think that avoiding all fat is the path to true health, but in reality, two substances (Omega-3s & -6s)can only be found in fat that is just as necessary to our survival as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Omega -3s are an essential nutrient for humans to consume and are associated with many health benefits as they play an important role in cellular function and maintain heart health, brain health, kidney function, eye health, and skin health. Vegan or Vegetarian diets may be lacking in this nutrient therefore they need to be aware of how to meet their intake requirements for Omega-3s.

What Do Omega 3s Do in the Body?

The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs, but not all. There are some fats that are essential to health that we cannot make and can only obtain through the diet. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is an essential fatty acid that your body can’t make but only can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA in very small amounts. Therefore, getting EPA and DHA from foods or dietary supplements is the only practical way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body.

Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA levels are especially high in eye, brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s not only provide calories to give your body energy but assist in many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system.

Read More: Why do we need to eat food containing omega 3?

What’s the deal with omega-6s and omega-9s?

You’ve probably also heard about omega-6 fatty acids, right? Omega-6’s are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and are present in our diets mostly in the form of linoleic acid from plant oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, and some nut and seed oils. Omega-6’s are more plentiful in the typical western diet than omega-3’s are. The problem isn’t that they’re unhealthy, the American Heart Association recommends that at least 5 -10% of food calories come from omega-6 fatty acids – it’s just that our body has only so much capacity for utilizing these fatty acids, and if that capacity is saturated with omega-6’s we end up absorbing fewer omega-3s.

Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats which are nonessential fats that the body can produce. But replacing some saturated fats with omega-9 fats may benefit your health such as improved insulin sensitivity and decreased inflammation.

Are plant-based omega-3 sources different from fish-based sources?

Fish contain both DHA and EPA. But it doesn’t mean that those following plant-based diets are deficient in these longer chain omega-3s. In fact, according to findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study, women following vegan diets had significantly more long-chain omega-3 fats in their blood, compared with fish-eaters, meat-eaters, and omnivores. Despite zero intake of long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA) and a lower intake of the plant-derived ALA, vegan participants converted robust amounts of shorter-chain fatty acids into these long-chain fatty acids, compared to fish eaters. Therefore, It’s possible for vegans or vegetarians to get enough omega 3s through their lifestyle. 

The adult adequate intake (AI) is specifically for ALA. There’s no AI for EPA or DHA (except in the first year of life), this is because ALA is a precursor to EPA and DHA, and the human body can facilitate this conversion. According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S. Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake of ALA (omega-3s) per day is 1.6 grams for adult males and 1.1 grams for adult females aged 19 years and over. ALA towards more efficient conversion, a minimum ALA intake of 2.6 g/day for vegetarian men and 1.6 g/day for vegetarian women. 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2016 position paper on vegetarian diets states, evidence suggests that omega-3 needs of healthy individuals can be met with ALA alone, and that endogenous synthesis of EPA and DHA from ALA is sufficient to keep levels stable over many years. However, experts in vegan nutrition recommend an extra 2g ALA or 200 to 300mg supplemental vegan DHA per day to help vegans meet their DHA needs.

Udo's Choice  Udo's Oil 3.6.9 Oil

Udo's 3.6.9 Oil Blend is a special blend of carefully chosen, natural, unrefined, EFA-rich oils that has a pleasant, nutty, buttery taste and 100% plant-based (suitable for vegan or vegetarian).

Despite having a tendency to have high omega-6 fatty acid intake, the omega-6 we get from our food is often damaged. Research highlights that hydroxynonenal produced from damaged omega-6's may affect cell regeneration, leading to obesity and other inflammatory disorders. Damaged omega 6's are often found in plant oils such as canola, soybean, corn and rapeseed oil that have been heated to high temperatures. Therefore, limiting processed omega-6's and including a good source of fresh omega-6 oils like the ones found in Udo's 3.6.9 Omega Oil is important. Udo's .3.6.9 Omega Oil contains certified organic, fresh and cold pressed, flax, sesame, sunflower, and evening primrose oils in an ideal ratio balance of 2:1:1 (omega-3 to omega-6 to omega-9).

Moreover, Udo's 3.6.9 Oil  has added non-GMO soy lecithin, improving oil digestion and providing the building materials for healthy cell membranes. Udo's 3.6.9 Oil Blend also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are easy to digest and assimilate and can be used directly by our cells as a source of energy without increasing fat deposits. 

Amount Per Serving (15ml)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids


ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

5 g

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

100 mg

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

3 mg

Omega-6 fatty acids

3 g

GLA (gamma-linolenic acid)

13 mg

Omega-9 fatty acids 

3 g

Read on the recipes of Udo's 3.6.9 Oil : Avocado Cucumber Soup Quinoa Power Porridge Spiced Avocado and Egg Mash


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