Do vegans need to supplement with DHA and EPA Omega 3’s? Short answer is NO!
This study in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that non-meat or fish eaters convert ALA to EPA/DHA more efficiently despite less intake of these Omega 3’s:
Dietary intake and status of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a population of fish-eating and non-fish-eating meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/92/5/1040/4597496
The objective of this study was to determine intakes, food sources, and status of n–3 PUFAs according to dietary habit (fish-eaters and non-fish-eating meat-eaters, vegetarians, or vegans) and estimated conversion between dietary ALA and circulating long-chain n–3 PUFAs.
The study concludes that despite that “total n–3 PUFA intakes were 57–80% lower in non-fish-eaters than in fish-eaters”, status difference was small indicating that non-fish eaters convert ALA to EPA/DHA more efficiently despite less intake of these Omega 3’s.
So Do Vegans Need A DHA Supplement? Here are more resources for you….
Dr. Tim Radak on DHA
Dr. Tim Radak is an expert on this topic. He is an RDN, DrPH, MPH Academic Coordinator for DrPH and PhD at the College of Health Sciences Walden University. Dr. Radak did an extensive review of the literature during this lecture:
More Resources From Dr. Radak
Dr. Radak has a Full Reference List of over 100 resources on the topic here: https://radaktim.wixsite.com/website/post/updated-dha-and-vegan-presentation-october-2019
Dr. Radak also has a great article that was published October 2019 along with extensive references. See: Omega 3, diet and lifestyle factors influencing brain health https://radaktim.wixsite.com/website/post/omega-3-diet-and-lifestyle-factors-influencing-brain-health
Dr. Michael Klaper Now Says NO to DHA Supplements
***See the video comments for reference to the science.
Dr. Klaper’s long explanation on his stance on DHA:
VegSource on DHA/EPA Supplements
Jeff Nelson from VegSource did an excellent and very well researched and documented review of the science on DHA. I’d encourage you to watch the video:
And Another From VegSource:
Dr Greger’s DHA Advice Not Sound
VeganHealth.org on DHA / EPA / Omega 3’s
“To sum up the rationale behind our recommendations, it appears that if a vegan is meeting the Dietary Reference Intake for ALA, their EPA status should be adequate. ” See: https://veganhealth.org/omega-3s-part-2/#recommendations
They also made an update on 3/2/20 with additional studies and they state that the results of these studies DO NOT change their recommendations on O3 supplements. See: https://veganhealth.org/omega-3s-updated/
04/27/22 Vegan Health has additional updated recommendations: https://us8.campaign-archive.com/?e=4d4752f583&u=2dcd9cb7dfab0062f1a1df75e&id=159dddc783
Their update includes low O6 to O3 rations: At this time, the research indicates that vegetarians with lower dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ratios tend to have higher blood levels of EPA and DHA. For that reason, it’s prudent, when adding ALA to the diet, to choose foods that don’t also substantially increase omega-6 intake, listed in this table.
A Word Of Caution!
It is important to note that a junk food vegan may need to supplement. It is important that we keep our Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratios in check so that we may be able to efficiently convert ALA to DHA/EPA.
IF YOU ARE CONSUMING OIL in your diet, a DHA / EPA supplement may be in place for you. Almost all processed foods and faux meat and cheese products contain a lot of oil. All crackers, most breads, and all junk food contain a lot of oil. However, I would encourage you to consider a WHOLE plant food diet and avoid ALL oils. Check out my article on ‘Cooking Without Oil‘. And while you are here, I have tons of oil free recipes on this blog.
As always, if you have questions about my content, feel free to reach out to me directly ctiexec @ gmail dot com.