Omega 3 Fats Refresher:
It will be helpful to keep these points in mind while reading this post:
- There are 3 main types of omega 3 fats – ALA (from plants), and EPA and DHA (mainly from marine sources).
- ALA is the main vegan source of omega 3s in food, but has a poor conversion rate into DHA (the best form). You’ll need a lot more of ALA if it’s your main source.
- The big benefit of supplementation is that you can get EPA and DHA from algae as a vegan, which are just as effective as fish oil supplements.
You don’t need to take omega 3 supplements as a vegan, but it can make your life easier.
The data is a bit mixed, but some studies show some potential benefits of omega 3 supplements for vegans.
There’s a few other things that you need to know before I can go over the best supplements for vegans.
Comparison Table of Best Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
If you already know what you’re looking for, or just need a quick recommendation, here’s a summary table of all the top options:
|Name||Omega 3 per Unit (mg)||Omega 3 Type||Cost||Supplement Type|
|Future Kind||275||EPA/DHA||$||Softgels (small)|
|Brain Armor||525||EPA/DHA||$$||Softgels (large)|
|Deva Omega 3s||100||EPA/DHA||$$$||Liquid|
How Much Omega 3 Fat Do You Need a Day?
There are 2 main parts to this: the quantity of omega 3s you get per day, and the ratio of omega 3 to 6 fats.
First, let’s look at the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of omega 3s.
Note that all numbers in that chart above for anyone over 1 year old is in ALA (the plant sources), so you don’t even need as much DHA (which we absorb better).
For an adult, you need 1.1 grams to 1.6 grams per day. For reference, you get 1.07 grams of ALA in 0.5 teaspoons of flaxseed. So it is possible to get enough omega 3s from your diet, even as a vegan. See my post on the best vegan omega 3 and 6 sources to see which foods you should pay special attention to.
But it’s more complicated than just getting the RDA, because the amount of omega 6s you consume affect how much of your omega 3s are absorbed.
Both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids require the same desaturase and elongase proteins. In plain English, it means that they compete with each other in order to convert to their most useful forms.
If you eat too many omega 6 fats, you won’t get the full benefit of your omega 3s.
This is a problem because most people get way too many omega 6s from their diet.
You need about a gram of ALA omega 3 fats per day, but only a portion if you’re getting DHA or EPA (both found in algae and supplements).
So What’s the Ideal Ratio Between Omega 3 and Omega 6s?
For now, most research has found that for every gram of omega 3 fats you ingest, you want no more than 4 grams of omega 6 fats (less is better).
Most experts agree that it’s more important to focus on raising your blood levels of EPA and DHA, rather than trying to cut out omega 6 fats (although do that as well if you can).
In theory, that seems like supplementation is a good option, but there’s not enough research to conclude this yet.
Aim for a ratio of 1-4 grams of omega 6 fats for every gram of omega 3 fats you consume (through food or supplements).
What to Look for in a Good Vegan Omega 3 Supplement
With all that said, I went digging into the different options for vegans to find the best supplements for us.
I ended up looking for a few main things:
- DHA or EPA – These are the most usable forms for your body and the best vegan alternative to fish oil.
- Reputable manufacturer – There’s a lot of sketchy supplement makers, and their product purity may not be great. I only wanted the companies with good reputations.
- Free of ocean pollutants – Serious supplement manufacturers grow or source their algae from algae farms. These are free of heavy metals like mercury and other pollutants.
If we’re on the same page here, I think you’ll find my recommendations useful.
The 5 Best Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
This section goes over the results of my research.
Below is more detail on each supplement. I’ve listed them in order of what I think is best, but the best option for you will depend on your personal preferences.
1. Future Kind
Future Kind is a supplement manufacturer that only makes products for vegans. They only use high quality ingredients, and products are all 3rd party tested in the United States. They also sell worldwide without crazy shipping fees.
Future Kind’s omega 3 supplement is made from algal oil, which is by far the best source for omega fats for vegans (with twice as much DHA than EPA).
The only other ingredients included are for the vegan softgel.
Note that they are smaller softgels than the other products on this list, making them easier to swallow.
2. Brain Armor
Brain Armor has more omega 3s per serving than any other vegan supplement I could find.
The tradeoff is that the softgel capsules are also larger than the other ones on this list.
With just over half a gram of EPA and DHA combined per capsule, 2 per day is more than enough. For some of the other supplements you’ll need to have 2-3 servings per day.
There are quite a few other ingredients included, here’s the full list:
Omega 3s from algal oil, vitamin D3, vitamin E, MCTs, Vegetarian Capsule (Modified Food Starch, Carrageenan, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Purified Water), Sunflower Oil, Rosemary Extract, Mixed Tocopherols, and Ascorbyl Palmitate. Contains coconut.
I just want to make clear that the glycerin and vitamin D3 are both plant-based, as those ingredients aren’t always vegan when used in other products.
The big question mark I have is the “Ascorbyl Palmitate.” This ingredient can come from palm oil (which many vegans don’t consume), however, it can also come from other plant sources as well.
If you want to be safe, go with a different option.
Zenwise’s Omega 3s stands out for how simple its ingredient list is, similar to Future Kind.
Here’s the full list:
Algae, Vegetarian Capsule (Modified Food Starch, Glycerin, Carrageenan, Purified Water)
The glycerin is from vegetable sources, and there’s not much else to note.
The pill size is pretty average, not small but not huge.
Deva is one of the most reputable supplement manufacturers.
While they do sell a capsule version, I chose to include this liquid omega 3 supplement instead. It’s the best option and one of the few options if you have a tough time swallowing pills.
Other than ascorbyl palmitate (for the reasons discussed above), there’s no questionable ingredients:
High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, Lemon Oil, Stevia, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Sunflower Lecithin, Rosemary Extract, Citric Acid.
In terms of EHA and DPA, all of these supplements are solid.
The best one for you will depend on whether or not you have strong preferences about:
- Pill size (or liquid vs capsule)
- Certain ingredients (carrageenan and ascorbyl palmitate).
I’ve summarized all the info the best I can, so hopefully that’s enough to help you find a vegan omega 3 supplement that you’ll be happy with.
Are Vegan Omega 3 Supplements as Good as Fish Oil?
For non-vegans, fish oil supplements, or even fish itself, are great sources of DHA and EPA. They’re the gold standard.
So it’s reasonable to wonder if vegan omega 3 supplements are as good as fish (or fish oil capsules).
Luckily, I came across a study that looked at this exact question.
Here’s what you need to know about the study:
- 32 healthy men and women were put in randomized groups.
- One group was given 600 mg of DHA per day from algal-oil supplements.
- The other group was given the same amount of DHA in the form of fish (cooked salmon).
They found that DHA from algal-oil capsules were just as effective as getting it from fish.
That makes sense intuitively, since fish get their omega 3s from algae in the wild, but it’s nice to have data backing it up.
In both groups, the plasma levels of DHA went up by about 80%.