Omega 3 Fats Refresher:
It will be helpful to keep these points in mind while reading this post:
- There are 4 main types of omega 3 fats – ALA (from plants), EPA, DHA, and DPA (all 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, DHA, and DPA 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, especially if you don’t eat a lot of plant-based omega fat sources like chia and flax seeds.
The data is a bit mixed, but some studies show some potential benefits of omega 3 supplements for vegans.
I’ve reviewed and tested out several omega 3 supplements over the years, and I’ll share my thoughts on the very best of them on this page.
My Top Picks:
Best Overall Vegan Omega 3 Supplement
Future Kind Vegan Omega 3
Most DPA per Serving
Best Budget Option
Best Liquid Omega 3s
Barlean’s Omega 3s
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).
Research has shown that DHA, DPA, and EPA are all absorbed quite well.
For an adult, you need 1.1 grams to 1.6 grams of omega 3 fats 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, EPA, or DPA (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, EPA, or DPA – 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 Best Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
This section goes over the results of my research.
Here’s a comparison table if you have a specific budget or dosage in mind.
|Omega 3 per Unit (mg)
|Omega 3 Type
|Barlean's Liquid Omega 3
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.
- Good mix of DHA:EPA (150mg:75mg)
- 3rd party tested
- Relatively small softgel size
- Made from algae with no filler ingredients
- More expensive than some other options
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.
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).
Note that they are smaller softgels than the other products on this list, making them easier to swallow.
I don’t always take omega 3 supplements myself, but when I do, Future Kind is the one I use unless I’m testing out new ones for the sake of a review.
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- Made in North America
- Every batch is 3rd party tested
- Mix of DHA and DPA
- Compostable plant-based bottle
- Larger softgel size
- Quite a few filler ingredients
Freshfield is a newer supplement brand that has quickly gained popularity due to their focus on trying to create the most sustainable products they can. This includes:
- Using plant-based packaging that’s compostable
- Being certified carbon neutral
- Being certified “plastic negative” (a fairly unique designation).
Probably the most interesting thing about the omega 3 fats in their capsules themselves, is that they contain 35 mg of DPA. It’s one of very few products to specifically measure and try and include DPA.
Personally, I found Freshfield’s omega 3 capsules easy to swallow and I did like the packaging, so I’m happy to recommend them to fellow vegans.
- Best price per serving
- Derived from algae
- A bit lower in omega 3 fats per serving than other options
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 (Tapioca Starch, Glycerin, Purified Water)
The glycerin is from vegetable sources, which is vegan-friendly. They previously contained carrageenan, but that was removed in their most recent product update.
The pill size is pretty average, not small but not huge. I didn’t have any issues swallowing them.
Zenwise has been around longer than brands like Freshfield, so if that’s important to you, I think it’s a good option.
- Liquid is great if you have trouble swallowing pills
- A few different flavors to choose from
- High concentration of omega 3s in just a tablespoon per serving
- Mix of DHA and EPA
- Quite expensive compared to the others
- Less convenient than capsules in many cases
I’ve tried some other liquid omega 3 supplements in the past, and they really didn’t taste good.
Barlean’s is my favorite liquid vegan omega 3 that I’ve tried so far. I tested the ginger peach flavor and while it’s not amazing, it’s certainly not bad tasting.
It’s the best option I’ve found so far if you have a tough time swallowing pills.
It is vegan certified, and contains mostly ingredients that you’d expect to see:
Water, high oleic sunflower oil, xylitol, glycerine, algal oil, natural flavors, gum Arabic, citric acid, antioxidant blend (Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopherol), rosemary extract, ascorbyl palmitate, and green tea extract), xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, vegetable juice (for color), guar gum, sorbic acid
Summary: Which Vegan Omega 3 Fat Supplement is Best For You?
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.
Questions About Vegan Omega 3 Supplements
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%.
Which Form of Omega 3 Fats Is Best?
Your body needs both DHA and EPA. DHA is mainly used by the brain and eyes, while EPA is used to combat inflammation. ALA has to be converted to DHA or EPA, which is why it’s less desirable, despite being the most common omega fat in plant-based foods.