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Vegans Have Similar Omega-3 Levels to Omnivores and Respond Well to Supplements

Despite the fact that vegans don’t eat fish, a recent study suggests that their omega-3 index is no lower than that of the average omnivore. A second study using the same cohort also found that vegans responded well to non-fish based omega-3 supplements.

The omega-3 index is a measure of omega-3 levels in red blood cells and is a reflection of a person’s long-term intake of DHA and DPA. It is an indicator of the risk level of death by a cardiovascular event.

For the first part of the study, researchers compared the omega-3 index of 165 vegans to those of omnivorous American soldiers eating army rations. They found that the vegans had an average omega-3 index of 3.7% and the soldiers had an average index of 3.5%.

The researchers also noted that some of the vegans had omega-3 levels as high as 8% and that the women had higher levels than the men. The results were also linked to age.

For the second study, 46 of the original 165 vegans were given a daily vegan omega3 supplement containing 243 mg dose of EPA plus DHA over the course of 4 months. At the end of that time period, the researchers recorded an increase in the average omega-3 index from 3.1% to 4.8%.

Researchers from the University of San Diego, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of South Dakota, and OmegaQuant Analytics conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 17, 2014, in Clinical Nutrition.

Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, better moods, and aiding your immune system.

Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s. For vegans like the ones in this study or for folks who just don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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