Vegans Should Consider Taking DHA Supplements, Dr. Michael Greger, Nutrition Facts, 27 August 2019
The problem is that people who don’t eat fish may be under 4.4. Nearly two-thirds of vegans may fall below 4.0 [an omega-3 index less than 4.4 was associated with accelerated brain loss in the Framingham study], suggesting a substantial number of vegans have an omega-3 status associated with accelerated brain aging.
I recommend everyone consider eating a plant-based diet along with contaminant-free EPA and DHA.
Here’s an algae-based, vegan, non-GMO product by Nordic Naturals that costs $30/month. For a family of 4 that’s $120/month. It does not say it is “contaminant-free.” You can shop around for a better price but when families spend less than $600/month on food, the cost for these supplements is not inconsequential.
There’s also the issue of rancidity. This is an extracted, processed product. As an unsaturated fat it is vulnerable to oxidation, that is, rancidity. Rancid fat contains free radicals that damage DNA and increase risks for cancer and atherosclerosis.
“[Rancid oils] can develop potentially toxic compounds” that have been linked to advanced aging, neurological disorders, heart disease and cancer, says lipid specialist and University of Massachusetts professor Eric Decker.
“[Rancid oils are] carcinogenic, pro-inflammatory and very toxic,” says Dr.Andrew Weil.
I’ve tried algae-based omega-3 supplements in the past and they were all rancid – and they were not bargain products.
Even if vegans experience accelerated brain loss compared to omnivores, and that’s a big if, I don’t think an expensive, refined, and likely rancid supplement is the answer.
Did some ciphering … If the body only converted 15% of the 2 grams ALA you might eat in a day to longer-chain omega-3, that’s 300 mg of EPA+DHA. That’s more EPA+DHA than you can get in one of these Nordic Naturals algal-based pills.
“In the absence of convincing evidence for the deleterious effects resulting from the lack of DHA from the diet of vegetarians, it must be concluded that needs for omega-3 fatty acids can be met by dietary ALA [e.g. in flax seed]”
DHA Status of Vegetarians, 2009
“There is no evidence that human diets based on terrestrial food chains fail to provide adequate levels of DHA or other n-3 fatty acids. Consequently, the hypothesis that DHA has been a limiting resource in human brain evolution must be considered to be unsupported”
Has an aquatic diet been necessary for hominin brain evolution and functional development?, 2006
What I’m discovering is … I don’t think a DHA supplement is necessary.
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