Being a vegetarian can be complicated. Fish oil is the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which confer important benefits to the heart, brain, eyes, and other body parts/functions.
But I don’t like the idea of eating a once swimming life form (though my wife points out that I take a joint supplement, Celadrin, which contains an ingredient that once was part of a cow).
So I’ve been searching for a karma-lite way to get my Omega 3’s. Several years ago I started taking a couple of flax oil capsules every day. I’ve also tried frozen waffles with hemp seed, which are legal again after the failure of an ill-considered federal attempt to ban hemp products..
Flax is one of the best vegetarian sources of Omega 3. However, it’s still a long ways from matching fish oil. It seems that flax has lots of ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). This is a parental fatty acid that gets converted into the children of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
DHA and EPA are the truly beneficial Omega 3’s. So if ALA doesn’t get converted into them, eating gobs of flax oil or flax seed isn’t going to accomplish much. And from what I’ve been able to fathom (more knowledgeable readers, please correct me), a number of factors prevent vegetarian ALA from being converted into DHA and EPA.
Thus I’ve also been taking Source Naturals’ Neuromins DHA, which comes from algae. It’s billed as a “dietary supplement for the brain,” so I try to never forget to ingest two 100 mg capsules a day. That way I know how much DHA I’m getting, 200 mg—a bit more than my wife gets from her three Eskimo-3 fish oil capsules (130 mg).
Yet Laurel’s fish oil supplement has 210 mg of EPA and I’m batting zero. I’m no expert on the relative value of EPA and DHA, but the couple who wrote “The A-Z’s of Omega 3s” obviously have done a lot of research. They say:
Ralph Holman from the University of Minnesota and the Grand Master of essential fatty acid studies in humans, once summed up the situation by saying 'DHA is structure, EPA is function.'"
Well, I’d like my brain to have both structure and function. So it’s been bothering me that I couldn’t find a vegetarian source of EPA. Earlier this month I embarked on a search for this non-fishy Omega 3 Holy Grail. Thanks to Google, I believe I succeeded.
A few days ago two bottles of V-Pure Omega 3 arrived in the mail from Switzerland. It isn’t sold in the United States so far, to my knowledge. V-Pure is derived from algae by some sort of secret process that the makers are coy about, supposedly to protect their patent.
That makes me a bit wary. However, the bottles I received say that two capsules a day provide 75 mg of EPA and 270 mg of DHA (a lot less EPA than fish oil, but a lot more than nothing). Maybe I’m overly trusting of the European Union and Swiss manufacturing, but I’m taking them at their word.
With just three days of this supplement in my system my brain doesn’t seem to be functioning noticeably differently than before. I do seem to have a clearer view of the world, but that’s probably because I haven’t been watching much Fox News over the Christmas weekend.
So I recommend that vegetarians looking for a good non-fish Omega 3 source check out V-Pure. It’s kind of cool to order from a European web site (they have a currency converter) and I got my order in a shade under three weeks.
I’m skeptical that this product is going to change the world like the maker says. But if it changes my brain and heart for the better, it’s worth the charge to my VISA card.
[Update: thanks to a comment from ET, I was led to this additional information about the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids and the need to reduce your Omega 6 intake to derive maximum benefit from the "3s."]