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Algae-Based DHA vs. Flax

Everyone should consider taking plant-based (yeast- or algae-derived) long chain omega-3 fatty acid (DHA/EPA) supplements.

September 15, 2008 |
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Transcript

Because even distilled fish oil has been found to contain toxic industrial pollutants, the safest source is algae or yeast derived EPA/DHA (our bodies can retroconvert DHA into EPA and vice-versa). See some of my reasoning here. My recommendation is to ideally get 250 to 500 mg a day

Very few people in this country eat the recommended amount of fish, and those who do probably… glow in the dark and are so flame retardant they can probably broil their fish fillet over an open fire with their bare hands.

There are at least six sources of micro-algae based DHA currently on the market. There’s Deva. Omega-zen capsules, omega-zen liquid, Dr. Fuhrman’s brand, Spectrum makes one, and V-Pure brand. Udo’s oil makes one too.

This is not even negotiable for all pregnant and breastfeeding women. Just within the last year, mothers given DHA supplements had infants with significantly better vision at two months, significantly better problem solving at 9 months, and were significantly smarter at 4 years old—it bumped their IQ as well.

We can make DHA ourselves from the shorter chain omega-3’s in flaxseeds, but probably not enough for optimum health. Still, flax is amazing stuff.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on omega-3 fatty acids. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on omega-3 fatty acids. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/aguccionesbcglobal-net/ aguccione@sbcglobal.net

      Hi Dr. Greger, This video clip seems to have been clipped short of it’s conclusion.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/cs/ cs

    I’m writing with a question concerning omega-3 fatty acids. You recommend algae- or yeast-derived DHA supplements, as fish oil often has toxins. You also warn that blue-green algae, chlorella and spiraling (all algaes, i think) have toxins in them that might contribute to ALS.

    Are algae-derived DHA supplements based on an algae that doesn’t carry the risks that blue-green algae, chlorella and spiraling do? How does one distinguish? Thanks.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/becochic/ becochic

      Yes, I am wondering this, too. I hope he replies.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      All the algae-oil omega-3 supplements currently on the market are made from golden algae that don’t create the toxins that can be found in blue-green algae (such as spirulina, detailed here: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/blue-green-algae. Thanks for the question cs and becochic–sorry if you were confused.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/LanceStrish/ Lance Strish

    I am curious about the toxicity/pathogenic activity of algae re: brain health too vs omega-3.
    -
    Also what do you make of this?: ‘Tumors under the skin

    The researchers studied the effect of PIFA’s in mice and human cells. The mice studied had tumors under the skin. Under normal conditions, the tumors would decrease in size following the administration of chemotherapy. In the study, after administering the fatty acids to the mice, the tumors were found to be insensitive to chemotherapy. The fatty acids were isolated from the medium in which chemotherapy exposed stem cells were grown. But also stem cells in the blood of patients produce the fatty acids that desensitize tumors to chemotherapy.

    The fatty acids are also found in commercially-produced fish oil supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as in some algae extracts.’

    I’ve always heard omega-3 fish oil increases telomerase.
    Sciencedaily http://is.gd/8gJ6gq

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/LanceStrish/ Lance Strish

      And what to make of this:
      http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=3390
      “The papers discussed in Friday’s post about a major angiogenesis pathway stimulated by oxidized DHA (Omega-3s, Angiogenesis and Cancer: Part II, April 29, 2011) may not seem important to many readers. But to cancer researchers and pharmaceutical companies, this is blockbuster work.

      Many foods affect angiogenesis. In fact, cancer studies have identified dozens of plant foods, from garlic to tomatoes to leeks, that possess anti-angiogenic properties.

      However, foods can also promote angiogenesis. Let’s stick to the oxidized DHA pathway and see if there’s evidence that foods drive it.”

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/ScottBeavers/ Scott Beavers

    Dr. Greger, do you recommend a particular brand based on dosage and/or quantity of EPAs and DHAs?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      Most of the microalgae-based long chain omega 3′s are source from the same company (Martek) and jsut sold under different brand names so I’d recommend buying whichever’s cheapest! In terms of how much, check out my recommendations here: http://nutritionfacts.org/?p=4060

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/ScottBeavers/ Scott Beavers

        Thank you for the reply Dr. Greger. Keep up the great work :)

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/aguccionesbcglobal-net/ aguccione@sbcglobal.net

    Dr. Greger, This video clip seems to have been clipped short of it’s conclusion.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/harmony/ Harmony

    Is there any information that can help with glaucoma. The drops are sight saving. what nutritionally can counter any side effects of glaucoma drugs such as cosopt.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      A review of complementary and alternative treatments for glaucoma was published this year (available here). Unfortunately, as you’ll read, the evidence is scarce. In terms of minimizing side-effects, probably the most important thing it to avoid allowing the tip of the dropper to come in contact with your eye or hands or anything (it can become contaminated with common bacteria that can cause eye infections). If you do experience eye redness, pain, or swelling discontinue it and call your doc at once. If I find any new information coming out on effective alternatives I will definitely let you know!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/chrifou/ chrifou

    Hi,

    I use Flora DHA Vegetarian Algae.Each capsul contains 250 mg of DHA sourced from 715 mg of Schizochytrium spp. oil.
    So it’s all DHA, no EPA. Should I get a brand that have DHA and EPA ?

    Thanks for your work. I have all your DVDs and I’m always excited when a new one comes out.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/dsikes/ DSikes

      I have the same question – Dr. Greger’s nutrition guidelines say “DHA and/or EPA” so I assume DHA only algae derived oil is fine but I do wonder…

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/dsikes/ DSikes

      Now I’m really curious about this DHA-only algae sourced omega-3 oil vs the EPA. I’ve found a good source of the algae oil (Spectrum prenatal DHA, 60 pills for ~$14 via subscription via Amazon) but it’s only DHA. I’ve read a few places that DHA is great for brain development and thus ideal for prenatal use, but maybe not so useful as EPA for adults. Before I start buying this DHA-only source I’d really like to know the difference between DHA & EPA.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/paulapooh/ PaulaPooh

    http://www.cornucopia.org/2008/01/replacing-mother-infant-formula-report/

    Is there any truth to this report against Martek and it’s safety and clean-ness as a product???
    I really want to go the Algae-based Omega 3′s route, but now I’m completely stuck, scared to ingest this stuff…
    Do have any thoughts??? I’m totally confused now and scared to try this alternative to fish oil.

    So the report said Martek uses a synthetic solvent called hexane- a neurotoxic chemical…is this true???
    And Martek’s Life’sDHA is in some “Organics” and they should NOT be!!!
    Should I be concerned??? Help!!!
    I’m taking flax oil and/or flaxseeds, but I really want to get the DHA/EPA in too!!!
    Please please please read this, thanks a million.

  • Mfrimu

    Hello,

    I came across a blog post from a Ph.D. that is inconsistent with the common conception of these Omega-3 being beneficial.  

    Among some issues: they are immuno-supressive, they oxidate before reaching the bloodstream, and contribute to metastatic cancer.

    What is surprising is at the end of the article, there are about 100 references to scientific studies supporting the view. 

    It seems hard there days to find conclusive evidence in the area of health and diet…

    Mihai 

  • Toxins

    Dr. Greger, how can we be sure that short chain fatty acids are insufficient for our bodies needs?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670975394 Manuj Ⓥ Chandra

    Is there any test one can take to test Omega-3 levels? What would be the name of this test?

    What are the effects of overdose?

    Are there any symptoms of Omega – 3 deficiency?

    • Toxins

       Omega 3 deficiency is a very rare condition and essentially unkown among healthy populations. All people who consume a healthy plant based diet encounter alot of omega 3 without even knowing it. Kale for example is a good source of omega 3. Men on average need 1.6 grams of omega 3 per day, women need 1.1 grams of omega 3. To check out the levels of omega 3 in your food, visit this website and see the full nutrition profile
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/

  • BPCveg

    I have to respectively disagree with the concluding statement of this video (or at least what Dr. Greger is suggesting at the end). It seems to me that a well planned vegan diet including regular flax consumption should be perfectly sound for most people to meet omega-3 fatty acid needs, without the need for algae oil supplements. 

    According to registered dietician and specialist on vegan nutrition Brenda Davis (copied from her website page ‘Maximizing Essential Fatty Acids in Vegetarian and Vegan Diets’):

     ”Although conversion [of ALA to EPA] is slow and incomplete, it appears to be adequate to meet the needs of most healthy people, if intake of ALA is sufficient.”

    She also goes on to say that:

    “Flaxseeds are by far the richest common source of ALA at 57 percent. One teaspoon of flaxseed oil or one and a half tablespoons of ground flaxseed, plus your usual intake of vegetables, walnuts and other foods provides plenty of omega-3 fatty acids for most people.”

    Of course, Brenda Davis (& other reputable sources such as the dieticians of America and Canada – see 2009 position statement on Vegetarian and Vegan diets) have also indicated that this topic is unsettled and requires further research.

    Future research on this topic may indeed teach us that consuming algae oil is beneficial. Based on the present consensus, however, recommending that everyone take daily algae oil for optimal health seems quite speculative.

    • Toxins

       I also agree with you that omega 3 is easily satisfied with a vegan diet without supplementation

      ALA is not converted effectively to DHA under the condition that one is consuming too many omega 6 fatty acids. Since most whole plant foods contain good rations of omega 6 : omega 3, this is of no concern. The National Academy of Sciences does not recognize EPA and DHA as essential. This means there is enough evidence for them to conclude that we can make enough of it without eating it in its preformed state.

      In addition…

      Do vegetarians have to eat fish for optimal cardiovascular protection?1–3
      Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(suppl):1S–5S.

      Interest in the cardiovascular protective effects of n–3 (omega-3) fatty acids has continued to evolve during the past 35 y since the original research describing the low cardiovascular event rate in Greenland Inuit was published by Dyerberg et al. Numerous in vitro experiments have shown that n–3 fatty acids may confer this benefit by several mechanisms: they are antiinflammatory, antithrombotic, and antiarrhythmic. The n–3 fatty acids that have received the most attention are those that are derived from a fish source; namely the longer-chain n–3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n–3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n–3). More limited data are available on the cardiovascular effects of n–3 fatty acids derived from plants such as a-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n–3). Observational data suggest that diets rich in EPA, DHA, or ALA do reduce cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death; however, randomized controlled trial data are somewhat less clear. Several recent meta-analyses have suggested that dietary supplementation with EPA and DHA does not provide additive cardiovascular protection beyond standard care, but the heterogeneity of included studies may reduce the validity of their conclusions. No data exist on the potential therapeutic benefit of EPA, DHA, or ALA supplementation on those individuals who already consume a vegetarian diet. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to recommend n–3 fatty acid supplementation for the purposes of cardiovascular protection; however, ongoing studies such as the Alpha Omega Trial may provide further information.

      • BPCveg

        Thanks for adding to my understanding of this topic.

    • Rik

      Test your levels and see what happens. Reading and interpreting a text will not do enough. You need to test your levels. Maybe flax is enough, but I would guess not.

  • Nelson Drake

    is spirulina (herbafresh brand) an algea based DHA omega 3 source? on one of your vids you mentions to stay away from spirulina because of muscle deterioration

  • Nelson Drake

    great! spirulina out, golden algae is in! thank you, this is my favorite site by far

  • Jessiermaher

    Are there any forms of plant based EPA?

  • Jessiermaher

    Also wondering if ALA is used at all in its own right or if the body converts it all to DHA and EPA?

    Love the site, thanks for all your valuable info!

    • Toxins

      your body converts omega 3 from plants (ALA) to DHA and EPA. Fish has
      already preformed DHA so your body does not need to convert it.

      ALA is not converted effectively to DHA under the condition that one
      is consuming too many omega 6 fatty acids. Since most whole plant foods
      contain good ratios of omega 6 : omega 3, this is of no concern unless
      one is eating a lot of nuts other than walnuts, flax seed and chia seed.
      The
      National Academy of Sciences does not recognize EPA and DHA as
      essential. This means there is enough evidence for them to conclude that
      we can make enough of it without eating it in its preformed state.

      In addition…

      Do vegetarians have to eat fish for optimal cardiovascular protection?1–3
      Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(suppl):1S–5S.

      Interest in the cardiovascular protective effects of n–3 (omega-3)
      fatty acids has continued to evolve during the past 35 y since the
      original research describing the low cardiovascular event rate in
      Greenland Inuit was published by Dyerberg et al. Numerous in vitro
      experiments have shown that n–3 fatty acids may confer this benefit by
      several mechanisms: they are antiinflammatory, antithrombotic, and
      antiarrhythmic. The n–3 fatty acids that have received the most
      attention are those that are derived from a fish source; namely the
      longer-chain n–3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n–3) and
      docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n–3). More limited data are available on
      the cardiovascular effects of n–3 fatty acids derived from plants such
      as a-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n–3). Observational data suggest that
      diets rich in EPA, DHA, or ALA do reduce cardiovascular events,
      including myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death; however,
      randomized controlled trial data are somewhat less clear. Several recent
      meta-analyses have suggested that dietary supplementation with EPA and
      DHA does not provide additive cardiovascular protection beyond standard
      care, but the heterogeneity of included studies may reduce the validity
      of their conclusions. No data exist on the potential therapeutic benefit
      of EPA, DHA, or ALA supplementation on those individuals who already
      consume a vegetarian diet. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to
      recommend n–3 fatty acid supplementation for the purposes of
      cardiovascular protection; however, ongoing studies such as the Alpha
      Omega Trial may provide further information.

  • JP

    Seems like no-one is sure about DHA vs ALA… :

    “If you are getting adequate ALA in your diet from oils and nuts, I am not sure you really need to take an algal DHA supplement…”
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/questions/omega-3/index.html

  • Jen

    Dr. Greger,

    It has been two years since any news on this site regarding vegan sources and/or recommendations of DHA/EPA, or omega 3s in general. I was wondering if there have been any new updates. For one, I know there are now many more sources of DHA/EPA from supplements, my favorite right now being ProAlgen put out by Nordic Naturals.

    Specifically, in this video you recommend vegans (well, everyone) take 200 mg of DHA per day. In my talkings with other doctors, specifically naturopathic ones, that amount, according to them, is woefully low. Most recommend between 2-3 *grams* of combined EPA/DHA per day. I was just wondering if you thought this was unreasonable, or if we all really do need a lot more of these EFAs in our daily mix.

    Thank you :)

    • Dr. Connie Sanchez, ND

      200 mg per day of DHA (long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) has been shown to offer cardio-vascular protection. A 2011 meta-analysis found that 250 mg/d of n-3 LCFA (DHA and EPA) should be considered a minimum target intake for the prevention of cardio-vascular disease (1). One gram (1,000 mg) of fish oil contains about 300mg EPA and 200mg DHA. Greater than 3 grams per day may increase bleeding in some individuals. For additional cardiovascular protection vegans may want to include foods high in the short-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts in their diet.

      Unfortunately, many Naturopathic Doctors recommend mega-doses of omega-3 fatty acids (1-3 grams fish oil) to their patients because their normal patient is usually someone eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) high in omega-6 fatty acids (grains and grain seed oils) and saturated fats (meats, dairy) and very low in omega-3 fatty acids (green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seed). This diet style creates inflammation and the larger doses of omega-3′s may help to decrease it.

      However, a healthy diet of unrefined, plant-based whole foods rich in vegetables, fruits, unrefined grain, beans and legumes, with a few ounces of raw nuts or seeds is anti-inflammatory; therefore, high doses of DHA/EPA may not be necessary, nor optimal.

      1. Musa-Veloso, K., et al. Impact of low v. moderate intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids on risk of coronary heart disease. British Journal of Medicine (2011), 106,1129-1141.

      • Jen

        Hi Dr. Sanchez,

        I just wanted to thank you for your response. As an ND student and a vegan myself, this information will be very useful :) Thanks again!

  • Stephen Albers

    Dear Dr Greger,

    I am an anti- pill popper by nature. But I’ll willingly take one if the need is proven.

    You do an excellent job of researching Vitamin B12 tests. I took one which verified I do not have a B12 deficiency. So, with recurring monitoring, B12 suppliment is a pill I do not take.

    Now I’d like to ask you to do the same thing for comprehensive fatty acid profile tests for determining DHA/EPA STATUS. There are several tests on the market with costs ranging from $150 to $500. A home test is available from Omega Quant. Which of the available tests can be recommended?

    Sincerely,

    Stephen

    • Toxins

      The issue with vitmain b12 is that it takes a while for a person to become deficient and once you are deficeint its difficult to restore back to normal levels. There are no health detriments or side affects seen with taking a vitmain b12 supplement, as the excess is simply excreted through urine. Regardless of your philosophy, there is no reliable plant source of b12, and the most healthful approach is indeed to supplement b12. Dr. Greger has a whole series of videos on b12 seen here.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=b12

      • Israel Navas Duran

        Neither reliable nor unreliable, there’s no plant source whatsoever.

  • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

    Does any one have any thoughts (backed up by scientific evidence) regarding liquid lecithin? I just read on the EWG web-site that liquid lecithin is “A naturally derived vegetable product that was popularized by vegetarian chefs in the 1970s, lecithin is a healthy, affordable option to oil and synthetic cooking sprays which continues to be used in many professional bakeries and kitchens.” Is liquid lecithin really healthy and/or safe to use?

  • Sarah

    Hi, Dr. Greger:

    I am sending you this email to ask if vegetarians and vegans can meet their daily DHA requirements by eating seaweed or algae? Is taking an algae-based DHA supplement daily the only way to insure that vegetarians and vegans obtain enough DHA?

    Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666366687 Stephen Lucker Kelly

    Little confused here? So should we be supplementing Omega 3? Or not in general? A lot of people say just eating flax, chia or walnuts is fine…

    • Andrea Kladar

      I saw a long presentation by Dr. Greger to a school and his recommendation was to take 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax every day to get adequate amounts of Omega 3.

  • FrancisLeblanc

    I understand that we should choose Algae based omega-3, but they are plenty of new company coming to the market. How can we choose a product where the sources are less than a few years old ? What are the most proven and respected products?

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      I would review Toxins excellent post plus the other video’s relating to DHA/EPA and omega 6. I don’t recommend supplementation of DHA/EPA but if you or you in conjunction with your health care professional(s) decide to go this route then you should go algae based. I always tend toward more established companies with the best disclosures and information. It does get down to a certain level of trust when dealing with manufactured products.

  • Robert

    is there is a specific supplement you can recommend
    for Omegas. Some people say two tablespoons of flax seed a day is
    sufficient and what specific amounts of DHA and EFA should they include it’s very confusing. your DHA video on here cuts out at 1 minute so i’m not sure if what comes after answers my questions but I would really like to have this area of my diet resolved.
    thanks so much Dr. Greger

    • whole plant eaer

      No benefit of fish oil in high-risk patients MAY 8, 2013 http://www.theheart.org/article/1536889.do

      Milan, Italy – The supplemental use of n-3 fatty acids does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with multiple cardiovascular-disease risk factors [1].

      These are the conclusions of the Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group, a collective of Italian researchers led by Maria Carla Roncaglioni (Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy). In addition to having no effect on the study’s primary end point in this group of patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors or atherosclerotic disease, but no previous MI, the researchers did not observe any benefit on secondary end points, including death from coronary causes or sudden death from cardiac causes or major ventricular arrhythmias.

      “Our findings provide no evidence of the usefulness of n-3 fatty acids for preventing cardiovascular death or disease in this population,” write the researchers in the May 9, 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

      Dr James Stein (University of Wisconsin, Madison), who was not affiliated with the study, said in an email toheartwire that the results are disappointing but consistent with recent studies showing no significant effect of fish-oil supplements. “Especially interesting that there was no effect even in those with low baseline intake of omega-3 fats, those not on aspirin, and those not on statins,” he commented.

      In the analysis, the researchers did observe a significant interaction between the efficacy of n-3 fatty acids and sex (p=0.04), with women treated with fish oil having statistically significant 18% lower risk of the primary end point when compared with women treated with placebo. However, the investigators and Stein caution that the interaction should be interpreted cautiously and might simply be due to chance.
      Fish oil a no-go, nada effect

      The study included 12 513 patients, including 6244 randomly assigned to 1 g of n-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty-acid ethyl esters with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid content not less than 85%) and 6269 patients randomized to placebo. The primary end point of the trial was initially a composite that included death, nonfatal MI, and nonfatal stroke but was later revised at one year after a blinded assessment showed a very low event rate. The primary end point was revised to death from cardiovascular causes or hospital admissions for cardiovascular causes.

      After a median follow-up of five years, the primary end point curves were virtually superimposable. The primary end point occurred in 11.7% of patients who received the fish oil and 11.9% who received the placebo. The rates of the secondary end points were also similar in both treatment groups.Primary and secondary end points

      Dr Dariush Mozaffarian (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA), who was also not involved with the study, said that heart-disease death, rather than nonfatal heart disease or total cardiovascular disease, is the clinical end point most likely influenced by fish oil. For that reason, this trial is important because it is one that has large numbers of heart-disease deaths (158 deaths from coronary causes).

      “The lack of any discernible effect on coronary death raises concerns about the real benefits of fish-oil supplements in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Mozaffarian. “Recommendations to eat fish, in the context of an overall healthy diet, increasing activity, and stopping smoking, should remain the priority for reducing risk.”

      Dr Eric Topol (Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA), editor in chief of theheart.org, posted a video blog on the site, noting that the dose of n-3 fatty acids used in the study was the same dose used in the GISSI and GISSI-HFtrials, two studies that showed a benefit with regard to reducing sudden cardiac death, presumably through the ability to suppress ventricular arrhythmias.

      “I have an awful lot of patients that come to me on fish oil, and I implore them to stop taking it,” said Topol. The present study, with its efficacious dose, arms physicians with data to tell patients who have not had an MI and who don’t have heart failure that n-3 fatty acid supplementation with fish oil is not effective. He called fish oil a “no-go,” noting that if the supplement had no effect in this high-risk patient population, of whom just 40% were taking statins, it’s hard to imagine n-3 fatty acids will provide any benefit in lower-risk subjects.

      “Fish oil does nothing,” continued Topol. “We can’t continue to argue that we didn’t give the right dose or the right preparation. It is a nada effect.”

      In contrast, Mozaffarian noted that the fish-oil supplement did not cause any harm to patients. In fact, more patients in the placebo arm stopped taking treatment than those who received the fish-oil supplements (17.9% in n-3 fatty acid group vs 19.4% in the placebo group). “So for patients who won’t eat fish or wish to be sure they are getting their omega-3s, there is no reason to stop taking fish-oil supplements if they’re already on them,” he told heartwire.

      Recently, the Alpha Omega Trial even showed that omega-3 fatty acids failed to have any benefit in post-MI patients. Another study, the OMEGA trial, found that omega-3 fatty acids provided no benefit in well-treated patients who had an acute MI.

  • Sasha McClure

    Dr. Greger, i just had a fasting blood workup done, and found out that my Omega3′s are rock bottom at 2.7% on an index that lists 4.0% as high risk! 8.0% being optimal. i’ve been vegan for going on 6yrs. and everything was great! it is my own fault for not taking the precautions that could have easily prevented this depletion. my doctor is down on vegan diets, and doesn’t believe that i will be able to raise my Omega3′s with algae supplements and diet alone but, i am determined to try! as i do not want to take the fish oil that he is recommending. what should i do now that i’ve nearly depleted my stores of Omega3″s? can i build them back up again with diet and algae DHA? i am currenlty taking 6 vegan DHA gell caps daily, 4-Tbs. ground flax, and 1-Tbs. chia seeds. Help! Please!! Thank You!!

  • vegFXeditor

    Dear Dr. Greger,

    Although I am a great fan of your videos in general, I think there are several problems with this video. The first one is that I am not entirely sure that the evidence points in the direction that taking DHA/EPA supplements actually *would* produce “optimal health” (so I am not taking any myself).

    But even if one *were* considering taking DHA supplements, one couldn’t actually choose any of the seven brands that you mention in this video, without going against the advice that you give in the video “Antioxidant Vitamin Supplements” (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/antioxidant-vitamin-supplements/). For in that video, you seemingly recommend that one should *stay away from* all vitamin E supplements.

    The problem is that all seven DHA supplements contain vitamin E in some form. And this is pretty representative for the market as a whole. According to my recently published market survey of 39 DHA supplements with their respective vitamin E content (http://vegfx.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/market-survey), only three brands did *not* list vitamin E (or “tocopherols” or “tocotrienols”) on their label.

    And in another post “Best Vegan Algae-Derived DHA/EPA Supplements?” (http://vegfx.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/best-vegan) I take a closer look at those three, and discover that one of the three supplements may still contain some vitamin E, even though its labeling doesn’t say so explicitly. And one other supplement seemingly contains the Martek oil, which may also be problematic. And as for the third DHA supplement, I have simply not been able to locate any actual *photo* of the label, so it is problematic for that reason.

    Therefore, in practice, it seems almost *impossible* for the average customer to find a DHA supplement without any vitamin E. So maybe you should update this video (“Algae-Based DHA vs. Flax”)? Or, perhaps, the “Antioxidant Vitamin Supplements” video? Or both? Or have I misunderstood something, as regards your recommendations?

    Thanks!

    • vegFXeditor

      Unfortunately the Disqus commenting software has corrupted the three links in my post above. When the software extracted the URLs and created the green clickable links, it mistakenly removed the right parenthesis from the text and appended it to the URL (the parenthesis was positioned immediately next to the URL in my original text).

      This seems to be a software bug, because, to my knowledge, no URL may have any sort of parenthesis character as part of the specified path. So the software should have been smart and not included it when it extracted the URL.

      Maybe someone at NutritionFacts.org could manually fix the three links (by manually removing the right parenthesis in each of the three URLs) as well as my text (by inserting a right parenthesis right after each of the three links)?

      Thanks!

    • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

      Doesn’t Vitamin E protect oils from going rancid? Is that correct?

  • Neal Lewis

    Dr. Greger. thank you for the work that you do.

    Has your opinion changed regarding Omega-3 from Algae sources? A study recently mentioned in the New York Times and previously reported in the Journal of National Cancer Institute, found an association of prostate cancer with the types of omega-3s found in fish oil, and also the DHA type omega-3 which is found in Algae but not in flax seed. (The news article does not mention algae sources, but does recommend the flax source.) Do you think I should switch from Algae omega-3, to a flax seed product?

  • Maria

    Pease comment on comparing the absorption of DHA plant source vs from fish oil, and also include the negatives of fish source. If you have a previous writing in the subject please point to me which. Thanks!

    • Toxins

      This recent study showed that the conversion rate in Vegans is 2x that of a fish-eater.

      “Comparison of the PLLC n23 PUFAs:DALA ratio between dietary-habit groups showed that it was 209% higher in vegan men and 184% higher in vegan women than in fish-eaters, was 14% higher in vegetarian men and 6% higher in vegetarian women than in fish-eaters, and was 17% and 18% higher in male and female meat-eaters, respectively, than in fish-eaters This suggests that the statistically estimated conversion may be higher in non-fish-eaters than in fish-eaters.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20861171

      More info on fish oil here: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fish-oil/

      Moe info on omega 3 here: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/omega-3-fatty-acids/

  • Maryellen

    I have watched a lot of your videos on youtube, they are great! I really liked Maximum Nutrition, transitioning towards a plant based diet.
    I have been suffering from chronic dry eyes and when I stop taking fish oil and adopt a low fat diet my eyes are incredibility dry and painful. I take one tablespoon of flaxseed everyday. I really do not want to take fish oil d/t the contaminants found in them. And I want to be vegan, as much as possible. Have you had any situations where this has happened? Or would you have any suggestions for me? I use preservative free drops and restasis gave me headaches. I have no heath problems other than this. Thank you.

    • Thea

      Maryellen: A thought for you: If fish oil helps, have you considered taking the advice of this video and taking a DHA algea-based pill? This should be like taking the fish oil pill, but without the fish and without the toxins!

      Note: I’m not a doctor or expert. I don’t know if this will help you or not. But given what you wrote in your post, it seems worth trying…

      Good luck!

  • barbarabrussels

    Based on what I read in the comments, possibly the most controversial topic for vegans… To be continued no doubt.

  • Anita

    Hi Dr. Can you tell me what supplements you recommend for someone who has had gastric bypass and is now eating vegan?

  • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

    Could anybody tell us where these golden algae used in supplements come from? What bodies of water? Can you get any from the waters off Chili or Peru? For that matter, does anybody how to purchase anchovies (my personal weakness) or sardines from that area? I’m told their waters are among the world’s cleanest.

  • allen swayze

    Is plant based dha enough for young children’s developmental needs?

  • stanley

    Hi, has you heard of Dr PPARs? any comments on their claim to be the complete supplement for human?