Before reading this article, please understand I am not medically trained and these are just conclusions I have come to with my experience of being a vegetarian.
Essential fats and the Vegetarian/Vegan
In this article, I want to discuss how I add the essential fats Omega 3, 6 and 9 to my diet. Primarily my focus is on Omega 3 and the ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6.
The essential fats, benefical for brain and heart health are not produced by the human body and therefore require consumption from supplementation or food sources. Omega 3 is mainly found in the form of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA).
EPA and DHA are readily used by the body and ALA is converted by the body to produce EPA and DHA. Vegetarians or vegans cannot get EPA and DHA via their diet directly and are required to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. From what I have read, the conversion rate of ALA to EPA can be between 8% to 20% and ALA to DHA 1% to 9%. This may or may not be true. Omega 3 and Omega 6 compete for absorbtion therefore I want the ratio of Omega6:Omega3 to be 3:1. It is also worth noting that this ratio may not be significant.
Natural Omega 3
Before I discuss the source of Omega 3 I use, I want to rule out supplements as a source of essential fats as I look to get the nutrients my body needs from food. In most articles I read flaxseed seems to be championed as a great source. However I am hesitant to use it for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, flaxseed oil is unstable and can spoil easily which can be inflamatory and secondly the ratio is 0:2. This doesn’t mean my assumption is correct. Hemp seed is my favourite source, it matches the ratio and is largely unprocessed (the seeds are dehulled).
I use 60g Braham And Murray Natural Hemp Protein Powder in a drink every morning (I will discuss the protein benefits and the drink in another post)
The breakdown of Omega 3, 6 and 9 looks like the following:
Omega 9 500mg 1000mg
Omega 6 2200mg 4400mg
Omega 3 700mg 1400mg
Using the conversion rates given above and the Omega 3 breakdown:
Omega 3 | EPA 8% | EPA 20% | DHA 1% | DHA 9% | Total Worst Case | Total Best Case
700mg 56mg 140mg 7mg 63mg 63mg 203mg
1400mg 112mg 280mg 14mg 126mg 126mg 406mg
The worst case scenario is I get 126mg of usable Omega 3s and the best case scenario is 406mg of usable Omega 3s daily.