4201

Cheap sources of EPA and DHA Omega 3?

13 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

From what I'm finding online there just isn't that much sources of cheap EPA and DHA when it comes to omega 3. It comes down to some specific fish (Salmon, Mackerel and some others), Perilla Oil and Algal Oil. Salmon is by far the cheapest and most accessible but wild salmon usually costs more and I've seen there is antibiotic issues with non wild salmons. I would have no idea where I'd buy Perilla Oil and Algal Oil as I don't find any of those in my local supermarkets in Canada.

My question to the nutrition-savy of this forum is, how the heck are you guys getting your EPA and DHA Omega 3? If you are vegan there is no option but to get those hard to find oils? I'm not saying I'm trying to get vegan but easy salmon twice a week is quite expensive and inconvenient.

Now I know about ALA being convertible to DHA but you need to consume much less omega 6 than omega 3 and even then it's not reliable. I'd have to consume a lot of walnuts and flaxseeds and if I ever consume something that is high in omega 6, it messes up my omega 3 / 6 ratio? It sounds like a nightmare keeping track of every source of omega 6 just to make sure the balance is conserved.

At this point I'm not sure what to do except paying the high prices for salmon (that are prob full of antibiotics) or just buying omega 3 fish oil pills as a supplement. I'm quite surprised by how limited the options are for omega 3, especially when it's such an important nutrient for the heart and for the brain.

Edited by 4201

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Krill oil

Cheap should not be your metric here.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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@Leo Gura

Are there brands that sell higher quality krill oil? Going for the more expensive oils is not a guarantee.

Also, is "molecularly distilled" really a guarantee?

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Posted (edited)

I recommend chia and linseeds for omega 3. It's so cheap and if you eat everyday a couple table spoons you should be okay on the omega 3 department. Also a handfull of wallnuts, but they're more expansive

Edited by Snuitje

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7 hours ago, Leo Gura said:

Krill oil

Cheap should not be your metric here.

Yeah I guess I should just accept omega 3 is a tough nutriment to get. Where do you get Krill oil? I see them in pill form but none in "normal form". Do you cook with this stuff?

 

5 hours ago, Snuitje said:

I recommend chia and linseeds for omega 3. It's so cheap and if you eat everyday a couple table spoons you should be okay on the omega 3 department. Also a handfull of wallnuts, but they're more expansive

chia, linseeds/flaxseeds and walnuts are all ALA omega 3 which your body can convert to DHA in the liver through a difficult process. This process does not work if you have too much omega 6 in your system so it's not a sustainable alternative to fish oils and other sources of EPA/DHA omega 3. 

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Posted (edited)

I get my omega by fish and intaking a spoonful of cod liver oil daily.

I personally use "On Target Living Alaskan Cod Liver Oil Organic Lemon Flavor". 

 

Edited by SgtPepper

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12 hours ago, 4201 said:

chia, linseeds/flaxseeds and walnuts are all ALA omega 3 which your body can convert to DHA in the liver through a difficult process. This process does not work if you have too much omega 6 in your system so it's not a sustainable alternative to fish oils and other sources of EPA/DHA omega 3. 

Hmm interesting. Yeah okay, so an alternative vegan friendly would be supplements based on algea.

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@4201 The entire ALA -> DHA conversion is a bottleneck and there are several factors that can limit it. The most profound one being the competitive use of few enzymes (delta 4, 5,6 desaturase and elongase) as well as few other things that may impact the conversion rate like insulin sensitivity and I believe magnesium and zinc status as well, possibly many other things. The conversion is also very much determined by certain genes and genetic snips as well. 

That being said, we don't have a lot of good quality data that would show that loading the body with additional DHA has any groundbreaking benefits and it seems sufficient ALA intake should cover the needs. Somebody actually shared some helpful resource the last time I claimed otherwise and when I looked into the research, I was surprised to find that there isn't any convincing data out there to say that eating a lot of algal oil or fish oil gives you additional benefits besides just the regular dietary intake of ALA. But it looks to me like we still need larger amount of data especially more high quality trials. 

That being said, in order to make the most of the converting enzymes and prevent competition, you can avoid loading your body with high doses of omega 6 foods mainly eggs, meat and dairy or maybe just separate them from meals that are high in ALA. 

For extra benefit, you can just consider adding few cycles of algal oil a few times a year as a precaution policy. 


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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Michael569 said:

@4201 The entire ALA -> DHA conversion is a bottleneck and there are several factors that can limit it. The most profound one being the competitive use of few enzymes (delta 4, 5,6 desaturase and elongase) as well as few other things that may impact the conversion rate like insulin sensitivity and I believe magnesium and zinc status as well, possibly many other things. The conversion is also very much determined by certain genes and genetic snips as well. 

That being said, we don't have a lot of good quality data that would show that loading the body with additional DHA has any groundbreaking benefits and it seems sufficient ALA intake should cover the needs. Somebody actually shared some helpful resource the last time I claimed otherwise and when I looked into the research, I was surprised to find that there isn't any convincing data out there to say that eating a lot of algal oil or fish oil gives you additional benefits besides just the regular dietary intake of ALA. But it looks to me like we still need larger amount of data especially more high quality trials. 

That being said, in order to make the most of the converting enzymes and prevent competition, you can avoid loading your body with high doses of omega 6 foods mainly eggs, meat and dairy or maybe just separate them from meals that are high in ALA. 

For extra benefit, you can just consider adding few cycles of algal oil a few times a year as a precaution policy. 

I'd be curious to see which studies you found, from what I'm seeing DHA seems highly important in brain development and to the brain in general, as well as being a good predictor for cardiac health

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02859265 "The follow-up studies have shown that infants of mothers supplemented with EFAs and DHA had higher mental processing scores, psychomotor development, eye-hand coordination and stereo acuity at 4 years of age."

https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/3/5/529 "Conversions through to DHA in adults have been found to be very low. When stable isotope-labeled ALA was given to a sample healthy young male volunteers in the UK that did not take fish oil or regularly eat fish, there was very little conversion right through to DHA (EPA 7.9%, DPA 8.1% and DHA 0–0.04%) [24]."

"While EPA is required for eicosanoid synthesis, the widespread presence and preferential retention of cell membrane phospholipids for DHA, particularly in the brain, indicates that DHA is the essential omega 3 fatty acid."

"For instance, the work of Harris et al. [38] and von Schacky [39] have established that the most reliable fatty acid indicator for risk of coronary heart disease is EPA + DHA in erythrocyte membrane phospholipids. Further, Harris et al. [38] demonstrated that erythrocyte DHA phospholipids correlated highly with cardiac DHA phospholipids (r = 0.84, p = 0.01)."

They don't really say why DHA is important (and I'm not sure they know why) but we definitely know that it's quite important for the brain because the brain has evolved to preferentially select for those acids. If DHA wasn't important we wouldn't find it as much of it in the brain.  At the end of the day it's all just correlations probably because we don't understand what the body does with this DHA but it's highly likely to be a very important nutrient and given the low conversion rate of ALA, I wouldn't even bother with specifically taking ALA.

When looking up "EPA DHA body requirement" on google scholar you get a bunch of results that are about what are the requirements to feed a certain species of fish amounts of EPA and DHA. It's possible such a study would have been mistaken for one about the human body? Otherwise I'm really curious about a study that would invalidate all of this body of research if you have one.

Edited by 4201

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1 hour ago, 4201 said:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02859265 "The follow-up studies have shown that infants of mothers supplemented with EFAs and DHA had higher mental processing scores, psychomotor development, eye-hand coordination and stereo acuity at 4 years of age."

This is an interesting one and it seems there is more use in developing brain (e.g. child) than in adult brain. 

When we look at some studies that are rated as  "top of hierarchy pyramid" meaning systematic trials and meta analysis, there isn't awfully lot of benefit. 

BRAIN
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26268080/ - no additional benefit for cognitive decline in this systemic trials. This is a review of randomized blinded trials so, very high quality of evidence. 
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32060571/ - same here 

 

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH 

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub3/full - this is the best quality study I could find. Cochrane systemic study of  79 randomized trials (112,059 participants). Basically pooling a shitload of data and averaging them out. Cochrane trials are currently considered the most rigorously tested and conducted. 

Results: Increasing ALA intake probably makes little or no difference to all‐cause mortality (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.20, 19,327 participants; 459 deaths, 5 RCTs),cardiovascular mortality (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.25, 18,619 participants; 219 cardiovascular deaths, 4 RCTs), and it may make little or no difference to CHD events (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.22, 19,061 participants, 397 CHD events, 4 RCTs, low‐quality evidence). However, increased ALA may slightly reduce risk of cardiovascular events (from 4.8% to 4.7%, RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.07, 19,327 participants; 884 CVD events, 5 RCTs, low‐quality evidence), and probably reduces risk of CHD mortality (1.1% to 1.0%, RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.26, 18,353 participants; 193 CHD deaths, 3 RCTs), and arrhythmia (3.3% to 2.6%, RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.10, 4,837 participants; 141 events, 1 RCT). Effects on stroke are unclear.

So overall not as effective for serious cardiovascular events with some mild benefit here and there. But to be frank, despite all this, I still take Algal Oil 3 times a year as a precaution. 


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1 hour ago, Michael569 said:

BRAIN
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26268080/ - no additional benefit for cognitive decline in this systemic trials. This is a review of randomized blinded trials so, very high quality of evidence. 
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32060571/ - same here 

What those studies point out is the lack of consensus on DHA supplementation treating demention and cognitive decline which is quite different from the lack of consensus it is a required nutrient. The fact supplementing DHA doesn't prevent cognitive decline doesn't mean it's not a nutrient your brain needs. In fact the other study said DHA has a half life of 2.5 years in your brain and if you stopped fully consuming it right now, you wouldn't notice it before 50 days. Even if it's a resource that "sticks along" for a long time it doesn't mean it's not necessary. It's not really clear from those studies whether the people who did not supplement with DHA had any omega 3 in their alimentation. If you already consume some DHA, of course consuming supplements won't do much but it doesn't mean DHA is not needed. There are ethical reasons to not ask demention patients to totally stop consuming DHA "for the sake of science", it's unlikely the control groups in those studies had 0 DHA intake.

1 hour ago, Michael569 said:

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH 

https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub3/full - this is the best quality study I could find. Cochrane systemic study of  79 randomized trials (112,059 participants). Basically pooling a shitload of data and averaging them out. Cochrane trials are currently considered the most rigorously tested and conducted. 

Results: Increasing ALA intake probably makes little or no difference to all‐cause mortality (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.20, 19,327 participants; 459 deaths, 5 RCTs),cardiovascular mortality (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.25, 18,619 participants; 219 cardiovascular deaths, 4 RCTs), and it may make little or no difference to CHD events (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.22, 19,061 participants, 397 CHD events, 4 RCTs, low‐quality evidence). However, increased ALA may slightly reduce risk of cardiovascular events (from 4.8% to 4.7%, RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.07, 19,327 participants; 884 CVD events, 5 RCTs, low‐quality evidence), and probably reduces risk of CHD mortality (1.1% to 1.0%, RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.26, 18,353 participants; 193 CHD deaths, 3 RCTs), and arrhythmia (3.3% to 2.6%, RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.10, 4,837 participants; 141 events, 1 RCT). Effects on stroke are unclear.

So overall not as effective for serious cardiovascular events with some mild benefit here and there. But to be frank, despite all this, I still take Algal Oil 3 times a year as a precaution. 

Yeah I have no doubt that ALA is useless, the other papers confirmed that too. They say this though

"This is the most extensive systematic assessment of effects of omega‐3 fats on cardiovascular health to date. Moderate‐ and high‐quality evidence suggests that increasing EPA and DHA has little or no effect on mortality or cardiovascular health (evidence mainly from supplement trials)."

This is a funny conclusion given they don't show their numbers for EPA and DHA anywhere. But again it's supplement trials, do their control group have 0 intake in DHA or regular population amount of DHA? I have no doubt that supplementing DHA from a normal diet doesn't do much but I don't think that means you can get away with taking none of it. Now this detail could probably be answered reading your whopping 526 PAGES paper xD 

All of that being said, again this is a study aimed at using Omega‐3 fatty acids for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The fact you cannot prevent disease (brain or heart) by supplementing this doesn't mean it's not something you need in the normal sense. The studies I found which evaluated risks of heart disease actually worked from populations that do not consume DHA rather than people who switched to a supplement. This makes a relative amount of sense given the slow half-life of the DHA. If you don't take DHA for 20 years and then you are at risk of heart disease, it may just be "too late" to start supplementing and the results won't be seen right away.

Even the last study you linked still says it's necessary to eat them anyway, despite them not working as supplements to prevent diseases.

Omega‐3 fats are essential – to stay healthy we must obtain some from food. The main types of omega‐3 fats are alpha‐linolenic acid (ALA), a fat found in plant foods, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both found in fish. There is a common belief that eating more fish or taking omega‐3 supplements reduces our risk of heart disease, stroke and death.

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@4201 ah man, just eat a bloody salmon twice a week and you'll be fine 😄

I admit i didn't read the full Cochrane thing would take few days. You've got some solid line of reasoning there so best personal safety policy is probably to eat some DHA rich foods every now and then


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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Michael569 said:

@4201 ah man, just eat a bloody salmon twice a week and you'll be fine 😄

I admit i didn't read the full Cochrane thing would take few days. You've got some solid line of reasoning there so best personal safety policy is probably to eat some DHA rich foods every now and then

Yeah it sure is a tricky subject. It's also quite an "inconvenient truth" as well, it's probably the most inaccessible nutrient to obtain.

Will def go for the pills personally, Salmon every 3-4 days is such a commitment lol

EDIT: Actually you need to take 3 pills a day everyday to get enough from pills? :( This is insane.

Edited by 4201

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