Algae-Based DHA vs. Flax

Algae-Based DHA vs. Flax
4.33 (86.67%) 63 votes

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



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

This isn’t 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 nine months, and were significantly smarter at four years old—it bumped their IQ as well.

Now, we can make DHA ourselves from the shorter chain omega-3s in flaxseeds, walnuts, and a few other sources, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.


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

This isn’t 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 nine months, and were significantly smarter at four years old—it bumped their IQ as well.

Now, we can make DHA ourselves from the shorter chain omega-3s in flaxseeds, walnuts, and a few other sources, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

Also check out my other videos on omega-3 fatty acids

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205 responses to “Algae-Based DHA vs. Flax

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    1. Not sure if this is the correct video, but could you please comment on hemp seeds? They seem to have a perfect omega profile, could they be used instead of/in addition to flax seeds for optimal omega intake?

      1. Hemp seed is good stuff, but most of us are getting *far* more Omega 6 than Omega 3, so flax seed, which has a much higher proportion of Omega 3 than hemp seed, would be a better addition to our diets. Hemp seeds are sometimes marketed as having “the perfect profile,” but the important thing is that you strive to bring your *total* intake into better balance. The balance within a particular food is of no consequence.

        Also, flax seeds are high in beneficial lignans.

          1. Hey Joe, thanks for writing. I actually interviewed a scientist (Wendy Demark-Wahnefried) who has done work in this area for a book I wrote. Flax’s effects are actually ANTI-estrogenic. This is a little hard to grasp, but just because a phytochemical interacts with an estrogen receptor doesn’t mean it has estrogen AGONISTIC effects. For example, soy phytoestrogens interact with an estrogen receptor that has an anti-estrogen effect, which helps explain why soy lowers rathers than increases breast cancer risk. See Dr. G’s video:

            1. My comment on soy and soy based products. Have seen true evidence with my own eyes of guys eating soy and, as babies, were given soy milk because of milk allergies. All of these men have man boobs. Also the phytoestrogens in soy are not good for people who have a history of cancer of the breast in their family. I would not recommend soy based products to my dogs or cats, let along humans. I’ve just seen too many people who have had physical issues after consuming soy on a regular basis.

    2. Dr. Greger are all of the products you share here Organically farm raised? I am trying to find a golden microalgea product that does not come out of any of the oceans especially not the pacific. Also for safety reasons there would be no problem boiling this with my tea just to be certain there isn’t any type of bacteria in the product and still reap the benefits? TIA!

      1. Hi, Kellie J Gandy. It is not generally the practice at NutritionFacts to endorse any products. Featuring products in the video merely serves to show what is available on the market. I would suggest you contact manufacturers directly for information on sources and production methods. I would not recommend boiling EPA/DHA oils, and would not think it is necessary to do so. I hope that helps!

    3. Hi,

      There seems to be a technical glitch with this video or the wrong version was posted. It comes to an end with Dr Greger mid sentence.

    4. Dr Greger I was under the latest info from you saying a can of beets was the best no you could get? A video from you from 7 years ago said exact opposite. Saying Arugula was best . What is it?

    5. Hi Michael,

      I am a pescetarian who recently started to look into trying and becoming a vegan. So far it has seemed pretty hopeless, especially considering ways to get enough EPA and DHA. The Swedish National Food Agency states that they don’t recommend taking supplements for omega-3. It’s not instantly clear why they think it’s bad, but while browsing I have seen that algae supplements often contain too much iodine, and that studies have shown that supplements doesn’t have the same effects as fish. They also state that in addition, the fish contains other nutrients and probably also other bioactive substances.

      What is your take on this? Is it in fact a risk – considering the claims above – to take algae supplements? The agency also states that plant-based people and people allergic to fish still can get some of the omega-3 in for example rapeseed oil, transformed to EPA and DHA (to some extent). I have however read elsewhere that it’s very hard to obtain the right amount from any ALA source, so I’m a little confused.

      I have also considered including edible algae in my diet, do you have any knowledge regarding which kind of algae one should look into? I know that you have talked about the health benefits of golden algae in one of your videos, but it doesn’t seem that these have reached the market here in Sweden..


      1. Hi Daniel,

        There are plenty of sources for Omega-3, especially in green leafy vegetables, flax seeds and, if needed, in algae based supplements.
        Fish based supplements are often contaminated with heavy metals which is a risk factor.

        When goverments give dietary advise they often take culture into account. So on a standard diet, people are probably not able to get enough omega 3 because 1) their diet has too much oil in it meaning a high intake of omega 6, and 2) because they do not eat enough green leafy vegetables.
        Its the same thing they say with milk, “you need to drink it for the calcium” or meat “for the protein” and fish “for the omega3”.

        I think that Dr. Greger suggests supplementing if pregnant or breastfeeding, but not otherwise – and it’s not included in his daily dozen like B12.

        My wife used these algae based omega 3 capsules, through out her pregnancy and still while she is breastfeeding. I take one occasionally because they are there, and a positive side effect is that you dont get these fishy hickups i remember getting from fish based omega 3 when i took those years ago before turning vegan.

        Im DK based, but just checked and they also ship to Sweden. You can brobably find them elsewhere too or something local, but i wanted to share just in case (not affiliated)

        1. You write: “I think that Dr. Greger suggests supplementing if pregnant or breastfeeding, but not otherwise – and it’s not included in his daily dozen like B12.”

          Not correct. See:

          The article ends with: “Phase 2 of the study gave algae-derived EPA and DHA to those eating vegan diets with levels under 4.0. About 250mg a day took them from an average of 3.1 over the threshold to 4.8 within four months. *This is why I recommend everyone* consider eating a plant-based diet along with contaminant-free EPA and DHA to get the best of both worlds—omega-3 levels associated with brain preservation while minimizing exposure to toxic pollutants.

  1. 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.

        1. Thanks for your comment, Wil. There is a lot of research on this topic. Our goal is simply to provide the evidence and let consumers decided for themselves what is best. Whether or not spirulina itself produces toxins is irrelevant since companies can not seem to get pure cultures of it so contaminating blue-green algae may be the reason why in the store, so-called pure spirulina, has toxins. For chlorella, the case study on psychosis is enough to issue caution. It does still appears to be super helpful for patients with Hepatitis C and perhaps others, but this case on psychosis was enough to sound the alarm. Will it happen every time? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we will not report it. Hope that helps clarify.

          Best regards,

    1. I believe that fish oil does NOT have a significant toxic load because they are removed during processing. Krill oil supposedly has a high bioavailability if you don’t like fish oil. It is much more pure.

      1. I have been taking Andrew Weil’s fish oil DHA, because I was confused as to which I should take. It works, but not as well as Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Algae based DHA. In my opinion, my vision is far better and clearer with the Algae based DHA. And as soon as I’ve finished the order I have of the fish based DHA even though it’s suppose to be among the cleanest you can buy, I’m switching. My body says the algae based DHA works far better.

      2. There are no indicators at all suggesting that toxins are removed during processing. At all. You may have used the words belief and suppose but it still souns like you wildly made up everything you said. Bring on facts and sources next time you don’t want to look like a weekend snake oil seller.

  2. 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.

    1. And what to make of this:
      “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.”

      1. Thanks Doc, but you still didn’t say which of algae-based or flax seed-based supplementation of Omega 3/6 is best, which was the subject of this vid!

  3. 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.

    1. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. 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…

    2. 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.


    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.

  6. 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…


    1.  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

    2. I found this online:

      The most accurate test is called the ‘Red Blood Cell Fatty Acid Analysis’. It is offered via integrative medicine laboratories and not by standard conventional laboratories.

      [This detailed blood analysis summary reports total saturated and monounstaurated fats, total omega-3 (n-3) and total omega-6 (n-6) plus a breakdown of fats in each category; the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6; and whether these are within or outside established “reference range.”]

      Another option is this:

      A new easy, affordable home test developed by a leading cardiologist allows you to determine whether or not your omega-3 levels are optimal via a simple finger prick.

  7. 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.

    1.  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.

      1. You might be right, but I wouldn’t be comfortable not supplementing with an algae based DHA before, during, and after pregnancy while breastfeeding. Too risky not too. We would need studies that show vegan pregnancies not supplemented with DHA produced babies with as advanced development as the babies from mothers who supplemented with DHA referenced in Gregor’s video.

    2. 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.

      1. If you test while taking the DHA supplement you wont know if flax is enough. So you would need to test just while taking flax and eating a healthy diet. Then if it is too low, test again while adding the DHA supplement.

  8. 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

    1. Hi Jessie – I’m a practicing physician helping Dr. Greger with questions such as yours. Here is some info on Nuts and Seeds and EPA:
      Nuts and Seeds
      Some nuts and seeds contain ALA, which the body can convert into EPA, but the process is inefficient, and only a small amount is converted. You can add a handful of ALA-rich nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds or walnuts to your salad, yogurt or cereal to obtain some of your omega-3 fatty acids. It may be a good idea to take a plant-based omega-3 supplements containing either DHA, EPA or both. Although most omega-3 supplements are made from fish sources, vegetarian supplements are available and are derived mainly from plant sources, such as flaxseed

      here also is a video clip on Flaxseed:

  9. 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!

    1. 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.
      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.

  10. 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 :)

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  11. 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?



    1. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. I strongly recommend doing a serum test for both Omega 3/6 ratio and Omega 3 level. There is NO assurance your numbers are okay based upon arbitrary ingestion of foods or supplements since genetic factors effect results. I suspect you will be unpleasantly surprised to find your numbers are far from optimal. Two sources of the test are Omega Quant and Vital Choice Seafood.


  14. 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?

    1. 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.

  15. 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

    1. No benefit of fish oil in high-risk patients MAY 8, 2013

      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, 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.

  16. 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!!

      1. I am going to have the blood work up done again next year just to make sure. But as I told my doctor, I can tell that my Omega3’s have gone way up by the tell-tell signs of my body’s health. I read up on symptoms of low Omega3’s, such as cracks in the skin, and poor hair health, and have seen a marked improvement in all these areas. Winter before last, I was having continuous cracks at the tips of my fingers, (painful and annoying) this past winter, I had one crack which healed up in a day. My hair feels thicker, and has more luster, my skin looks better and the cracks around my heels are going away, and my energy feels great! I now take 3 vegan DHA gel caps, 3 Tbls. organic hemp hearts, and 2 Tbls ground hemp seeds daily. -bthwy, my doctor was pleased with the results and agreed that I have probably raised my Omega3’s successfully using vegan supplements and seeds.

        1. Great news! I am wondering, though, before your first test when you had very low DHA, were you supplementing any ALA source like flax and chia and how much of it? It might help others who are wondering if they might need to supplement. Of course, every case is different and a single case is anecdotal. It might be that two tablespoons of flax alone could have raised your DHA enough, or two tablespoons of flax plus just one algae pill, which is what Dr. Gregor recommends. Thanks for the info, it is very helpful to all of us. Now I know about some possible symptoms of low DHA.

  17. 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” ( 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 (, 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?” ( 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?


    1. 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 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)?


    2. Vitamin E is not a problem in very low doses. All of the studies that show negative effects from vitamin E supplementation are when it is higher then 75 IU’s per day. The amount in the algae supplements is MUCH, MUCH lower then that. Probably less then 10 IU’s. So now reason to worry about it. It’s just used as a preservative.

  18. 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?

  19. 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!

    1. 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.”

      More info on fish oil here:

      Moe info on omega 3 here:

  20. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. Hey Mary Ellen,

      I’m slowly working towards a vegan diet, last month abouts at 1 meat or fish a week. Appart from this being clearly anti inflammatory, I added 2,8 grams of dried ginger (or 12 fresh), 2.8 of rosemary, 0.3 cloves. 0.3 curcuma powder to my very very vegetable rich diet and started noticing dramatic inflammation reduction in several areas.

      Amongst other areas my sinusses are very slowly opening up.

      I haven’t been able to breathe through more than one nostrill at once for more than a decade, but its getting more usual to be able to breathe through both now instead of one. Its a slow process though, but its still getting better.

      If the nasal ducts can get blocked , I wouldn’t be surprised this could be the same with tear ducts. Therefore I recommend you give it a try, eat the herbs for a month and see what happens.

      I made a remark on the effects it had in the private parts region somewhere. If you click on my name you should be able to find it.
      It did not just affect my sinusses.

  21. 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.

  22. I do not recommend Martek; they use Hexane to extract and GM ingredients (they work with Monsanto).

    You can buy spray dried Schizochytrium sp. I believe it has almost 20% DHA by weight.

  23. Really important- Marine PhytoPlankton – I don’t see any videos discussing this algae and foundation of the food chain. I have read that it best taken as a freeze dried powder stirred in water. What is your research on this, Dr Greger ? thank you,

  24. I’ve also read that any pill is formed by a heat treatment which damages the benefit of the pill, and destroys up to 60% of its benefit. Is this true ??

  25. Hi Dr Greger. I’m hoping you can help me. My 9-year-old son was identified with dyslexia, general anxiety disorder, and borderline ADHD in March 2014. For over 1 year he’s been taking Pharmax high DHA fish oil and it’s helped, but now I’m reading that high EPA fish oil is more effective for anxiety. Have you come across any recent research that recommends a specific kind of fish/vegan oil to treat people with multiple diagnoses like my son?

    1. Depends on your diet, and your omega ratio. 1 tbsp of ground flax contains 1.5g of ALA Omega 3, which, at 0.5-9% conversion, is about 7mg – 135mg of DHA, depending on the person. The doctor recommends at least 300-500mg daily.

      Women are more efficient in converting ALA to DHA than men, so even at 4 tbsp of flaxseed, it may not be enough.

  26. I read the cited papers, and I come away from them feeling that DHA supplements for the mother are only going to be beneficial if those mothers are normal people who do not keep their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio at or below 4, since the mothers in the studies were not specified to have been doing so. They were “healthy”, but their ratios were not checked, so I’m assuming the ratios were typical american ratios, in other words, too high.
    As far as the visual acuity, the DHA was given in formula direct to the baby, not from the mother, and they had better vision than the babies who had only formula without DHA. The DHA-forumla babies did no better in visual acuity than the breastfed babies, and both formula groups (including the one with DHA) had worse verbal-IQ scores than the breastfed group.

    So, yeah, if you’re a mother who is not going to keep her o-6/o-3 ratio right during pregnancy, take DHA. Otherwise, don’t worry about it, and get your ratio right from food.

    If you’re not going to breastfeed, see if you can get DHA into the formula. Otherwise, absolutely breastfeed. Food and natural ways win again.

    1. dogulas, I had similar questions. I cut and pasted below my commentary.

      Great information as always. I have a question: Has anyone looked at the product below? It is the highest potency I found on the market and the best price per content. Please click the tabs to see the ingredients, etc. My questions are these on all these supplements:

      Do we have to be concerned with oxidation of the omega-3 fatty acids in the algae based supplements? I have not found any studies or independent testing to answer my question, so I thought I would pose it to the group to see if anyone knows anything, or can answer my question related to the oxidative state of the final products, including the one below from opti3omega. I also asked the opti3omega manufacturer the same question and if I received a reply, I will post it here for everyone to benefit (if anyone else is interested in this topic). The reason I bring this up is Dr. Greger, if I’m understanding correctly, indicates bodily systemic oxidative stress is induced from the oxidation of fish oils. Does the same concern translate to the algae based supplements too? Lastly, what about all the other ingredients added (see the ingredient tab at the link below to see what I am talking about for the opti3omega product). Are these things helpful, harmful, neutral; or does the benefit of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids trump any concerns about the additives? I also ask this because the six brands featured inDr. Greger’s video (link below) also contain similar additives. It would be nice to have development of a truly “clean” plant based, long-chain omega-3 supplement. The closest I found as far as additive free is at another link below for the unique brand (pretty “clean” in comparison), but my question remains regarding the oxidative states of the oil in these supplements. Lastly, the mg of DHA per mg oil for the Diva, opti3omega, and nuique respectively are the following in case anyone is interested:
      So the potency of the opti3omaga was the best and the best price on a cost basis, while the next most potent was the cleanest as far as additives go.

    1. It’s in a series and picks back up on the next video. Nothing to change, but thanks for pointing it out :) 10points!

  27. Can I eat flax instead of taking a EPA/DHA supplement? I heard that the
    natural ALA to EPA conversion is small(5%), but I also heard that if
    your taking an epa/dha supplement(algae or fish) , your inhibiting your
    bodies natural ability to produce EPA. I also read the Omega 6 and Omega
    3’s compete for the same enzymes to do their conversions. I understand
    that I might need to take an epa/dha supplement when I’m older, but do I
    need to in my early thirties? Thank Dr. Greger

    1. Not only is the ALA to long chain EPA/DHA conversion very small, that is the good news. In some people it is nonexistant. Therefore, it is likely you are deficient, no matter what your age is. The only way to determine your status is to do a serum test which is easy and reasonable in cost.

        1. Jonny,

          An easy way for you to purchase an Omega 3/6 serum test directly is from this seafood company that uses it to demonstrate the high level of Omega 3s in their products. The lab normally sells the test only through doctors:

          Here is an example of the comprehensive report the lab will provide:

          Please report your test results here so everyone can benefit from your experience.

        2. Yes, good thinking Jonny. Please do check with your doctor and never feel obligated to receive a blood test from anyone other than your healthcare team. I’ll reply more to you question about it may help.

    2. Hey Jonny. Omega-3 metabolism is complicated. Flax will breakdown to EPA/DHA, but not very well as you mentioned. Yes, omega 6 and omega 3 do compete because they use the same (delta-5-desaturase) enzyme to elongate both mother chains of omegas. It is good to have a nice ratio. It could help to take DHA/EPA, but it may not be needed so double check with your doctor.

      For more on Dr. Greger’s Optimal Nutrition Recommendations, you will find omega-3 suggestions.

      Hopefully some of this info helps,

  28. Hello there, massive fan of the videos and all the great work of NF, it is my go to source of dietary advice. Given that this video is 7 years old now is there an update on the situation with regards to supplementing with DHA/EPA or whether flax gives you adequate intake?

    I ask as i know someone who is feeling “vague and disconnected” and suspects it might be a lack of EPA/DHA on the basis of this video? Their all round health and diet is top notch in every respect but could DHA/EPA be a missing link?

    1. Hi Klang180. I recently posted some information about golden algae. The research has evolved but recommendations have not changed. Here is a background: In short, take a DHA/EPA supplement if you’d like. I think it depends on your overall diet. Those on a vegan diet may benefit. ​Ginny Messina, R.D. gives her thoughts on supplementing EPA/DHA​. Flax does convert to EPA/DHA, but in very small amounts. It may be enough as some research found those eating zero fish (vegan diet) having a better ability to convert ALA to EPA/DHA. Here are the requirements for essential fats from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). For essential fats, the IOM Adequate Intake is 11g/d of linoleic acid (omega-6’s) and 1.1g/d of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3’s). Research suggests the importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Dr. Greger discusses how to achieve a good omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio. Very complicated research. Some concerns may exist taking high doses of ALA (think flaxseed oil) and eye issues. Other studies show ALA can help boost levels of DHA over time. Older vegan men can have very little DHA in their blood. It’s unclear how blood levels of DHA translate to disease risk. The bottom line: there is not enough research to show these supplements (either ALA from flax oil or DHA/EPA from microalgae/yeast) are 100% necessary. It depends on age and gender. For example, pregnant women run more risks if they fail to supplement. DHA is so crucial in childhood brain development that pregnant and lactating women should take a supplement. Advice needs to be individualized and it’s best to discuss with your doctor. Dr. Greger has general information and guidelines about omega-3’s. As a precaution, and especially if you following a vegan diet, taking a vegetarian-based DHA/EPA supplement may be a good idea. Dr. Greger’s Optimal Nutrition Recommendations mention EPA/DHA suggestions. See if they help? Thanks!

    1. Yes. However the amount converted is debatable. Please see my comment to Klang180 right below your comment. I look into some resources. Let me know if they help? Thanks Johanna.

  29. Hi. I have a question about Omega 3. My girlfriend had her gallbladder removed a few years ago. Is her conversion from ALA to DHA/EPA diminished? Is her absorption of DHA/EPA diminished? Does she need to take Omega 3 supplements (DHA/EPA) or are flex seeds enough? Does she need to take some kind of other supplement (enzymens for absorption)? We are a bit confused what the role of gallbladder bile is in this. Thank you.

    1. That is a great question. What has her doctor said? It depends on her overall diet. If she is following a vegan diet she may be able to convert ALA to DHA more efficiently. She could surely try a supplement if she feels her intake of omega-3 fats are low. I wouldn’t think that the enzymes required (delta-6 desaturase) to elongate the essential fat ALA would be diminished without a gallbladder, but I do not know for certain. I suggest asking her doctor and see if they think a supplement would help. If so, consider Dr. Greger’s Optimal Nutrition Recommendations for EPA/DHA. Let me know if this helps.

      Best regards,

  30. Thanks for this video. Drs. McDougall and Esselstyn, as well as others in the field, believe we can get all the omega-3s we need (largely in the form of ALA) by simply eating a variety of whole plant foods. They say any omega supplements are unnecessary. This resonates with me, since I assume we can get all our nutrition from whole plant foods (Genesis 1:29), and only make exceptions if it has been clearly proven to be needed (which means only B12, and D if not getting much sunshine).

    Dr. Greger cites studies which give evidence that mothers supplementing with omega-3 supplements benefit their babies in utero. But presumably these studies were done with Standard American Diet people. Have any studies been done proving that people on a whole food plant based diet, or their in utero infants, benefit from omega-3 supplements compared to those on the same diet not taking those supplements?

    1. This is a common misconception. The vast majority of WFPB dieters are deficient in their Omega 3/6 status because they are guessing – not a good idea. The only way to verify personal Omega 3/6 status is by serum testing.

  31. Most governments and health organizations recommend 500 mg daily of DHA/EPA, twice as much as Dr. Greger does (250 mg). If I’m already getting some short chain omega-3s from chia/flax/walnuts will a 500 mg DHA/EPA daily supplement hurt me if I am otherwise healthy?

  32. Could this vid be remade please? It apparently got truncated (one of those words that are fun to say, but the meaning applies here).

    1. Bat: Notice how this video is from Volume 2. Dr. Greger was still figuring out how to do volume control in the first few sets of video Volumes. Also, the original Volumes were recorded as one long text more than short videos (before this website existed) and later got cut up to fit on this website. So, the videos in these early Volumes sometimes end in ways that seem off.

      1. Thank you Thea :-) so you don’t knw if there is a next video to better understand the quality of flaxseeds to provide omega 3? thanks

        1. Bat: If you look at the right-hand pane on the right of the screen just under the video (at least that’s where it is on my screen), you will see links for the “next video” and “previous video”. In my opinion, the “next video” link kind of finishes up the topic from this video.

          However, I’m not sure the next video will answer your actual question. There are a whole bunch of videos on flax seeds on this site. It may seem intimidating to go through. But maybe one of these other videos will be a better answer for you? Also, there are videos on omega 3s. And I’m guessing that more info will be coming out on this topic in Dr. Greger’s new book that is coming out in December.

          If you are interested, here are topic pages and video listings on flax and omega 3s:

          I hope something in there is helpful for you.

  33. Ok Doctor…i’m trying to find this supplement in my country (brazil), but the price is absurd!!! super expensive, really…i cannot afford it. i’m eating 3 tbsp flax seeds everyday and have a healthy whole foods vegan diet…it must be enough, right???

  34. Hi Dr. Greger, I was wondering about whether or not you advocate supplementing with algae DHA or is it dangerous based on recent findings? I am itching to know and have recently ordered a EFA test to see if my body is making enough DHA on its own.

  35. One way to boost DHA production without taking pills of Algae DHA is to eat more TURMERIC

    “Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.”

    It seems that curcumin boost delta 6 désaturase activity, and probably other phytonutrient may do as well, although anthocyanins apparently don’t (

    Another way is to eat Hempseed (don’t worry, no THC in it), which contain Stearidonic acid, direct product of delta 6 desaturase, which permit to bypass this step.

    1. Hello, Frhed !

      Thank you very much for the links

      Can you, please, also provide the link for the claim “Another way is to eat Hempseed (don’t worry, no THC in it), which contain Stearidonic acid, direct product of delta 6 desaturase, which permit to bypass this step.” ?

      Thank you in advance for your time

      Best regards

  36. Hello Dr. thanks as always for your priceless advice. I have searched for DHA/EPA vegan supplements but they all contain additives such as carraagenans, sorbitol, modified corn starch…I adopted this diet due to a chronic fatigue/IBS problem, so I don’t think this would be clever. Do you think the need for DHA makes this matter secondary, do you know a “cleaner” brand option? Thanks!

  37. what is the recommended quantity to take daily during pregnancy and breastfeeding, respectively? I see softgels for sale that contain 200 mg. and 650 mg.

    1. This video is not only interrupted after the statement, “but still, flax is amazing stuff…” but the video itself dates from 2008, so it could stand (1) an update and (2) more attention to the conversion of short to long O3 chains endogenously.

      Many of us suspect flax is, indeed, amazing stuff, and as forum poster “Thea” and others have commented, the problem with variable and/or insufficient conversion of short to long-chain O3 is finessed to some extent by taking in more short-chain plant-based food. That is, if the conversion rate is low, a large amount of short-chain material can produce a significant quantity of long chains.

      Ultimately, the question rests on how much long-chain O3 is enough, which Dr. Greger plans to address as soon as the research is published..

  38. Hi Dr Greger

    There seems to be a growing belief that cholesterol does not cause heart disease but is involved in patching it up and has therefore been found guilty by association. Where do you now stand on this. Is the driving down of cholesterol levels really a good strategy for people concerned about heart disease or as other doctors suggest, is inflammation, sugar, white flour products the real culprits and smashing cholesterol levels may be likely to give people a false sense of security.

  39. Hi wondering if it’s ok to give babies marine phytoplankton with formula (goats milk). We have been giving for last 2 months since he stopped the breast and his weight has increased 2.5 kg in 2 months. His head size is now off the charts but was always in 98%. Anyway just wondering if those growth factors would be too much??? He seems perfectly healthy though a bit grizzly from teething ..

  40. I discovered Jeff Morgan’s YouTube channel (Guilt free vegan) and he has an interview with a supplement supplier Geoff Palmer here Geoff cites two studies which found that flaxseeds reduced testosterone in men (approx 20%) and even moreso in women. It does this by binding to sex hormone binding globulan. This would be extremely undesirable in men such as myself who lift weights, so I want to find an alternative to flax. Geoff cited a study which found Ahi flower seed oil which contains SDA has a 400% greater conversion to EPA than flax. Is he just a shill, or is this to be trusted? Or should I just reduce the amount of flax and increase the chia each day so I keep the benefits of the lignans without too much loss in testosterone, and supplement my omega-3 with algae based capsules?

    1. Carl – I also heard of Geoff touting his ahiflower oil as a better alternative to flax seeds. Have you ever gotten a response to your question from Dr. Greger or any of the plant based docs?

  41. These companies need to actually make a PURE DHA/EPA product without all the junk food fillers like palmitate, carageenan, and sunflower oil. It is IMPOSSIBLE to find. Some even have artificial sweeteners!

  42. I am doubtful that vegetarian sources of ALA will convert well into DHA and EPA. I believe it is safer to get that from Alaskan salmon and grass fed beef. Humans apparently lack delta desaturase enzymes and thus are deficient in conversion.

  43. Dr. Greger, Thank you for all that you & your team does.
    Questions, what kind of research is available on UDO oil? Has there ever been a control group study conducted with Udo oil? Is is safe to take and if it adversely impacts endothelial cells given vegetable oils do indeed impact endothelial cells adversely per Dr. Esselstyn and others. Thank you. Regards, Ravi

  44. I am finding that the brands of Vegan EPA/DHA all contain carageenan. I thought that this sea weed is harmful or has harmful compounds in it. Is there a brand without carageenan. What should I do

    1. Eve: The carrageenan would be a very small amount in the shell of the pill. I personally doubt that amount would be harmful. However, if you would prefer to stay away from all carrageenan, you can do what one of my friends does and slit the pill and squeeze the oil into your mouth. Get one that is lemon flavored and it isn’t that bad. Another poster here says that she just puts the pill in her mouth, closes her lips tight and bites down. After sucking out the oil, she spits out the shell. Another option is to get the algae-based DHA/EPA drops. That way you can avoid the shell of the pill all together.

  45. Hi! I’ve been eating 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds daily for a few years now. I live in Sweden and the Food Agency recently recommended against eating ground flax seeds because cyanogenic glycosides in flax seeds form hydrogen cyanide which may be harmful to your health. This recommendation causes me some concern. As numerous suppliers of ground flax seeds have pulled their products. The Food Agency in Sweden says that if you are eating ground flax seeds and are asymtomatic it is probably ok, but one does start to wonder. The Food Agency says they do not have the evidence of what is a safe amount and so are recommending against any amount of ground flax seeds. In the same message they recommend fatty fish, oils, and walnuts as good alterative omega 3 sources. Help! What is the science saying about this matter? Thanks in advance for your reply. Love all the information you make available. Keep up the great work!

    1. David: Your question has come up a lot lately. I think the following answer from Tuffs is helpful in evaluating this question:
      “Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed—more than eight tablespoons—was safe” from:
      Since Dr. Greger recommends only 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed in his Daily Dozen recommendaitons, it seems to me that it is all good – a large safety margin *and* a huge amount of potential benefit from the flax.
      For the gritty details, check out: ​
      FYI: I heard that Dr. Greger will be doing a video on this topic at some point, so stay tuned!

    1. Jason,

      All oils that are not fully saturated, such as the omega 3’s, are prone to acidity, regardless of the source. Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

  46. Hello,
    Thank you for another great video, I have seen recently that Ahiflower oil is being sold as a vegan Omega supplement, and wondered how this compares to algae or flaxseed in terms of Omega 3 supplementation?
    Thank you

    1. Hey Suzy! I also saw ahiflower oil marketed as more potent than even flax seeds. Have you heard anything regarding the answer to your question for Dr. Greger or any of the respected plant based doctors?

  47. Do these supplements not damage the endothelium even though they are oils? If not, why is algae oil different from something like olive oil in regards to damaging the endothelial cells?

  48. Hi Bryan,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your questions.

    Flaxseed will not damage the endothelium, as it is a whole food. Oils, however, may damage endothelium. The reason an algae based oil supplement may not be a cause for concern is that it is such a small amount. Many omega 3 supplements are less than 1 gram, which is a very small amount. Therefore, supplements, unless you were to take massive doses, will likely not affect the endothelium much. Fish oil supplements may not affect endothelial function much, but they do often contain mercury, and have not been shown to have beneficial effects for cardiovascular disease, as was once thought.

    I hope this answers your question!

  49. In one of Dr Greger’s nutrition recommendations he says one tbsp of ground flaxseed per day will supply the necessary complement of Omega-3s, but then in a video for algae/DHA vs flax, he says flax is good but “probably not enough for adequate nutrition”. What is the correct answer?

    1. Indigo_Jon,
      Good question. Ill try to clarify. 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed provides omega 3 in the form of ALA. Our bodies can make DHA from ALA. However, based on more recent studies, there is concern that we cannot make enough for optimal brain health. Therefore, it is recommended to take algae oil to ensure an additional 250 mg. Check out this more recent video.

      1. Thank you for your response. After watching the other videos on this subject, I think it would make sense to add this supplement.

        In the first video, there were shown several brands of vegan DHA, and while I know you don’t endorse any particular product, what do you think of this one:—-2-x-84-Capsules.product.100219728.html

        Thank you very much,

        Jon (303) 905-0550

        */If life were meant to be easy, Michelangelo would have painted the floor./*

  50. Hi Michael Greger!
    I was just wondering if the ratio of DHA to EPA matter? The supplement I use has 250mg of DHA and 125mg of EPA i each pill.
    Is it fine or should I look for another supplement? If so, what ratio do you recommend for the supplement?

    Best regards Gustav

  51. Hello, I breastfeed a two year old. We are both vegan. In addition to the DHA supplement I take, should he take one as well or does it pass through breastmilk?

  52. Hello Lisa, many thanks for your comments and that important question.

    You’re right, DHA just as other fatty acids and vitamins have the ability to pass through breast milk.

    Nutrients affected by maternal food consumption include vitamin A, water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate; iodine and selenium, as well as vitamin D and fatty acids whose importance in the neurological and retina development of the baby.

    However, my biggest concern is that at 2 years old, babies get breast milk along with complementary foods. Meaning that it’s not the main source of nutrients. So, I’d recommend a DHA supplement for him, or make sure he get daily vegan food sources of DHA.

    You can find more info here:

    Hope it helps!

  53. Thank you for all your wonderful videos. I’ve been eating ground flax seeds now. I am vegan. I just started taking an algae based omega 3 and wonder if I need to continue the flax seeds?

    1. Hello Hollis,

      That’s a great question. Ground flaxseeds have many wonderful effects on our health beyond the conversion to EPA/DHA found in algal oil. Flax lowers cholesterol, has anti-cancer properties, and may help with weight loss and blood sugar regulation. These are benefits that you will not get from the algal oil alone, so Dr. Greger suggests 1 Tbsp of ground flax and 250mg algae-based DHA per day.

      I hope this helps,

  54. Hi, hoping a moderator sees this.

    Is this recommendation still standing? Why is it not in the daily dozen app? I only found it through a link in a comment section. I thought eating a spoonful of ground flax would give me enough omega.

  55. I’m confused 1 video on omega 3 algae supplements recommends algae another says it dissolves our bones. if I cant take algae omega 3 supplements what can I take

  56. Hi lo li – Thanks for your question! Dr. Greger does recommend taking 250 mg of a containment-free algae (or yeast) derived DHA/EPA supplement daily, in addition to eating a plant-based diet. Here is a more recent video I’d encourage you to check out for more details!

    I hope this answers your question!
    Janelle RD (Registered Dietitian & Health Support Volunteer)

  57. Is carrageen safe that is found in algae based omega 3 products? I cant seem to find carrageenan free algae omega 3 also, Im on wfpbd no oil so is algae oil complient? Thank you

    1. Hello Jackie,

      Dr. Greger discusses in the article I have linked below that carrageenan is not safe. It sounds like you’re having trouble finding algal oil free of carrageenan, but have you looked for liquid forms? I believe only the soft gels contain it.
      As for avoiding oil, algal oil is the exception. Most physicians promoting a wfpb diet will recommend algal oil and keep in mind you’re taking a very small amount (1tsp in most cases).

      I hope this helps,

      Matt, Health Support Volunteer

  58. This video is incomplete; it seems to have been clipped short in mid-sentence. Also, it is 11 years old, mentioning products some of which seem to no longer exist. Perhaps it is time for an updated video? The algal-based omega supplement market has exploded.

      1. Thank you, Christine. I should have made clear that I was suggesting he place the full video up there as this was cut short.

  59. In addition to eating lots of omega 3 rich foods, I am considering supplementing with DHA/EPA due to very high Alzheimer risk in my family. Almost every single algae omega 3 supplement I look at, however, has sunflower oil as a primary ingredient. Sunflower oil is rich in omega 6, and the whole point of an omega 3 capsule is to boost your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio (and get DHA/EPA). So, it concerns me that sunflower oil is an ingredient. Is it being used to make the product cheaper, or does the sunflower oil somehow stabilize it? Does any one have evidenced based research that I should not be concerned? Or recommendations for algae oil supplements. I have only found one that does not contain sunflower oil.

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