Vegetarian sources of Omega 3

Vegans and vegetarians, just like anybody else,
need to have a good source of omega 3 in their daily diets.
Omega 3 DHA is very essential to the health of everyone

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Vegetarian sources of Omega 3

Vegans and vegetarians, just like anybody else, need to have a good source of omega 3 in their daily diets.Omega 3 DHA is very essential to the health of everyone. I recommend making sure that you will be getting enough of this fatty acid.

The foods that contain a good amount of vegetarian sources of Omega 3 or alpha linolenic acid, for vegetarian individuals are:

  • Supplements
  • Soybean Oil
  • Soybeans
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Leafy Green Vegetables (small quantities, but a good ratio of omega 3′s to omega 6′s)
  • Olive Oil
  • Hemp Nut/Hemp Seed (ground)
  • Hemp Oil
  • Hemp Beverages (“milk”)
  • Flax Seed (ground)
  • Flax Oil
  • English Walnuts
  • Canola Oil

You can get a better idea and more details at

The Doses In Perspective

Vegans and vegetarians are more than likely to have a deficiency in the omega 3′s than people who eat meat. It is rather simple for everybody to consume a good diet that is able to meet the IOM, also known as the Institute of Medicine, suggestions for the intake of alpha linolenic acid; which is equal to about .6% to 1.2% of an individuals everyday energy.

A normal adult who consumes around 2000 calories each day will need about 1.4 – 2.8 grams of ALA each day as well, which equals about a quarter or one teaspoon of flax seed oil, 1.4 tablespoons of oil from soybeans or less than one tablespoon of walnuts.

However, it is not needed to worry about the intake, as a diet that is balanced is very unlikely to have any deficiencies.

Everyone needs to strive to make sure that their amount of omega 6′s they take in are balanced with the amount of omega 3′s. A lot of people (as well as vegans and vegetarians) eat a greater quantity of omega 6′s that can be found in seeds, grains and nuts. It is very vital to balance these with the sources of the concentrated omega 3′s.

Vegetarian Sources of Omega-3


Flax seed is probably the greatest source of alpha linolenic acid, although all the fats are stored within the seed. In order for the body to be able to use this fat that is hidden, choose milled (ground) flax oil or flax seed instead of the entire flax seeds.

Hemp seed oil and hemp seed contain great amounts of omega 3 but they have more amounts of omega 6 than the flax does (just keep in mind that the main goal is to increase the amount of omega 3 you are receiving in relation to the omega 6)


Perilla oil, hemp oil and flax oil are able to be taken as a supplement in either capsule or liquid form. Most of the capsules, however, are made from a gelatin, which is made through the bones of animals. Just remember, that it will take you 16 capsules to make up for one full tablespoon of the liquid oil.

The oils in liquid form cannot be heated but they may be added into smoothies, used in dressings or they can be taken straight from the spoon. Some people enjoy the nutty taste of the hemp or flax oil.

Vegetarian sources of omega 3 are usually converted into the longer chained fats DHA and EPA within the body. The conversion rate is typically low in a lot of individuals; however DHA and EPA are the main sources that are associated with the benefits of health such as brain health and cardiovascular protection. Due to this reason, a lot of individuals choose to use an algae supplement high in DHA. As for me, I’ll just stick with my regular diet.


Many clinical studies have found benefits to cardiovascular and heart health in people who are taking more than one gram each day of the DHA and EPA from the fish oils.

Even though these benefits are well-founded, it doesn’t mean that vegans and vegetarians should be mega-dosing as well.

Vegans and vegetarians have lower risks of chronic and cardiovascular disease than the normal population already. Understand that not eating fish doesn’t signify a deficiency in omega 3 DHA. Supplements for children and adults can be discussed during a meeting with a health care provider.

Fortified (“Enriched”) Foods

Since they possess potential benefits to health and they are important to nutrition (especially for kids), many everyday foods are now being enriched with omega 3′s.

On the package, you might find a list of omega 3′s such as ALA, DHA or EPA. DHA and EPA come from the source of fish unless the package specifically lists the term algae. The products could differ by region and country; and the food labels are the best place to find this information.

Some foods that are enriched with the vegetarian sources of omega 3 are:

  • Eggs: made by feeding flax seed to the hens
  • Soy Milk / Soy Beverages: usually from the source of flax seed
  • Breads Made From Grain: generally made with flax seed
  • Margarine: some brands might use a olive/flax oil combination although some will use fish oil; check the label to ensure
  • Milk: some brands of milk (such as Beatrice brand) will enrich their milk with vegetarian sourced alpha linolenic acid; and some will not
  • Yogurt: some brands of yogurt will use flax oil and some will use fish oils; however all are free from gelatin
  • Salad Dressings: will usually use a mixture of oils (such as olive, canola and flax). 

Some enriched foods that will use non-vegetarian sources of omega 3 or DHA (such as fish) are:

  • Headstart Bread (Wonder Brand): uses DHA derived from fish
  • Orange Juice: DHA that is also derived from fish
  • Margarine: could be derived from fish (some brands might use olive/flax oil, and some might use fish oil)
  • Milk: some brands of milk might fortify their milk with DHA that comes from a diet contained with fish that they feed to their cows
  • Yogurt: many of the brands will use fish oil

If you are curious about whether or not the product you are choosing uses fish oils or not, you can always check the nutrition label to see how they fortified the product. I suggest that if you are a vegetarian you talk to your physician about how healthy these supplements can be for you.