Should Vegans Take DHA to Preserve Brain Function?

Should Vegans Take DHA to Preserve Brain Function?
4.6 (92%) 40 votes

This is why I recommend 250mg a day of a pollutant-free source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We are all fatheads. About half of the dry weight of our brain is fat. Lower levels of the long-chain omega-3 fat DHA in some areas of Alzheimer’s brains got people thinking that maybe DHA was protective. Since the level of DHA in the brain tends to correlate with the level of DHA in the blood, one can do cross-sectional studies of dementia and pre-dementia patients, and they do tend to have lower levels of both long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA circulating in their bloodstream. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that lower omega-3 levels cause cognitive impairment. It was just a snapshot in time; so, you don’t know which came first. Maybe the dementia led to a dietary deficiency, rather than a dietary deficiency leading to dementia.

What you want is to measure long-chain omega-3 levels at the beginning and then follow people over time. And indeed, there may be a slower rate of cognitive decline in those that start out with higher levels. And, you can actually see the difference on MRI. Thousands of older men and women had their levels checked, and were scanned, and then re-scanned, and the brains of those with higher levels looked noticeably healthier five years later.

The size of our brain actually shrinks as we get older, starting around age 20. Between ages 16 and 80, our brain loses about 1% of its volume every two to three years, such that by the time we’re in our 70s, our brain has lost 26% of its size, and ends up smaller than that of two- to three-year old children.

As we age, our ability to make the long chain omega-3s, like DHA, from the short chain omega-3s in plant foods, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and greens, may decline. And so, researchers compared DHA levels to brain volumes in the Framingham study, and lower DHA levels were associated with smaller brain volumes.

But this was just from a snapshot in time, until this study was published. Higher EPA and DHA levels correlated with larger brain volume eight years later. While normal aging results in overall brain shrinkage, having lower long-chain omega-3s may signal increased risk. The only thing one would need now, to prove cause and effect, is a randomized, controlled trial showing we can actually slow brain loss by giving people extra long-chain omega-3s. But the trials to date showed no cognitive benefits from supplementation, until now.

“[D]ouble-blind randomized interventional study” providing evidence, for the first time, that extra long-chain omega-3s “exert positive effects on brain functions in healthy older adults…” A significant improvement in executive function after six and a half months of supplementation, and significantly less brain shrinkage compared to placebo. This kind of gray matter shrinkage in the placebo might be considered just normal brain aging, but it was significantly slowed in the supplementation group. They also described changes in the white matter of the brain, increased fractional anisotropy, and decreases in mean and radial diffusivity—terms I’ve never heard of, but evidently, they imply greater structural integrity.

So, having sufficient long-chain omega-3s—EPA and DHA—may be important for preserving brain function and structure. So, the next question becomes what’s sufficient, and how do you get there? The Framingham study found what appears to be a threshold value around an omega-3 index of 4.4, which is a measure of our EPA and DHA levels. Having more or much more than 4.4 didn’t seem to matter. But having less was associated with accelerated brain loss, equivalent to like an extra two years of brain aging. That comes out to be about a teaspoon less brain matter. So, it’s probably good to have an omega-3 index over 4.4.

The problem is that people who don’t eat fishes may be under 4.4. Nearly two-thirds of vegans may fall below 4, suggesting a substantial number of vegans have an omega-3 status associated with accelerated brain aging. The average American just exceeds the threshold, at about 4.5. Though if you age and gender match for the vegans, ironically, the omnivores did just as bad. There’s not a lot of long-chains in Big Macs, either. But, having a nutrient status no worse than those eating a Standard American Diet is not saying much.

All we need now is a study that gives those with such low levels some pollutant-free EPA and DHA, and see how much it takes to push people past the threshold. And, here we go. They took those eating vegan with levels under 4, gave them algae-derived EPA and DHA, and about 250mg a day took them from an average of 3.1 over the line to 4.8 within four months.

And so, that’s why I recommend everyone eat 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to WOLKE108 via pixabay

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We are all fatheads. About half of the dry weight of our brain is fat. Lower levels of the long-chain omega-3 fat DHA in some areas of Alzheimer’s brains got people thinking that maybe DHA was protective. Since the level of DHA in the brain tends to correlate with the level of DHA in the blood, one can do cross-sectional studies of dementia and pre-dementia patients, and they do tend to have lower levels of both long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA circulating in their bloodstream. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that lower omega-3 levels cause cognitive impairment. It was just a snapshot in time; so, you don’t know which came first. Maybe the dementia led to a dietary deficiency, rather than a dietary deficiency leading to dementia.

What you want is to measure long-chain omega-3 levels at the beginning and then follow people over time. And indeed, there may be a slower rate of cognitive decline in those that start out with higher levels. And, you can actually see the difference on MRI. Thousands of older men and women had their levels checked, and were scanned, and then re-scanned, and the brains of those with higher levels looked noticeably healthier five years later.

The size of our brain actually shrinks as we get older, starting around age 20. Between ages 16 and 80, our brain loses about 1% of its volume every two to three years, such that by the time we’re in our 70s, our brain has lost 26% of its size, and ends up smaller than that of two- to three-year old children.

As we age, our ability to make the long chain omega-3s, like DHA, from the short chain omega-3s in plant foods, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and greens, may decline. And so, researchers compared DHA levels to brain volumes in the Framingham study, and lower DHA levels were associated with smaller brain volumes.

But this was just from a snapshot in time, until this study was published. Higher EPA and DHA levels correlated with larger brain volume eight years later. While normal aging results in overall brain shrinkage, having lower long-chain omega-3s may signal increased risk. The only thing one would need now, to prove cause and effect, is a randomized, controlled trial showing we can actually slow brain loss by giving people extra long-chain omega-3s. But the trials to date showed no cognitive benefits from supplementation, until now.

“[D]ouble-blind randomized interventional study” providing evidence, for the first time, that extra long-chain omega-3s “exert positive effects on brain functions in healthy older adults…” A significant improvement in executive function after six and a half months of supplementation, and significantly less brain shrinkage compared to placebo. This kind of gray matter shrinkage in the placebo might be considered just normal brain aging, but it was significantly slowed in the supplementation group. They also described changes in the white matter of the brain, increased fractional anisotropy, and decreases in mean and radial diffusivity—terms I’ve never heard of, but evidently, they imply greater structural integrity.

So, having sufficient long-chain omega-3s—EPA and DHA—may be important for preserving brain function and structure. So, the next question becomes what’s sufficient, and how do you get there? The Framingham study found what appears to be a threshold value around an omega-3 index of 4.4, which is a measure of our EPA and DHA levels. Having more or much more than 4.4 didn’t seem to matter. But having less was associated with accelerated brain loss, equivalent to like an extra two years of brain aging. That comes out to be about a teaspoon less brain matter. So, it’s probably good to have an omega-3 index over 4.4.

The problem is that people who don’t eat fishes may be under 4.4. Nearly two-thirds of vegans may fall below 4, suggesting a substantial number of vegans have an omega-3 status associated with accelerated brain aging. The average American just exceeds the threshold, at about 4.5. Though if you age and gender match for the vegans, ironically, the omnivores did just as bad. There’s not a lot of long-chains in Big Macs, either. But, having a nutrient status no worse than those eating a Standard American Diet is not saying much.

All we need now is a study that gives those with such low levels some pollutant-free EPA and DHA, and see how much it takes to push people past the threshold. And, here we go. They took those eating vegan with levels under 4, gave them algae-derived EPA and DHA, and about 250mg a day took them from an average of 3.1 over the line to 4.8 within four months.

And so, that’s why I recommend everyone eat 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to WOLKE108 via pixabay

1,034 responses to “Should Vegans Take DHA to Preserve Brain Function?

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  1. In your past videos you have often mentioned flax seeds as a good plant based source of omega-3. In this video flax seeds are not mentioned. Do they not contain the right form of omega-3 or is the concentration not high enough?




    1
    1. Flax seeds contain short chain Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). These have to be converted by your body into long chain omega 3s. The enzyme that converts them also converts Omega-6s into long chain Omega-6s, though, so if you eat a lot of foods containing Omega 6 fatty acids, you may reduce your body’s ability to convert the Omega 3s found in flax seeds into long chain Omega 3s.




      6
        1. At what age should we recommend the DHA supplements? over 50 or before? What about consuming chlorella or spirulina? could that be enough?




          1
          1. Hi, Alejandra Parra. I think that people of all ages can benefit from DHA, but certainly those over 50 should take them, as conversion of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids may be reduced as we age. I also think that pregnant women, and those planning pregnancies should take these supplements to support proper brain development in their children. For more on chlorella and spirulina, I recommend these videos for your viewing:
            https://nutritionfacts.org/video/latest-on-blue-green-algae/
            https://nutritionfacts.org/video/update-on-spirulina-2/
            Chlorella is nutritious and safe for those who are not allergic, but not a great source of DHA. Dr. Greger does not recommend spirulina supplements.
            I hope that helps!




            5
            1. The Deva Vegan omega 3 come only in 200mg. These are good bc I can afford them and I can find them easily in my local store. I also eat flax and chia seeds most days. Is that enough? I can’t seem to find 250 capsules




              0
                1. Adam I just saw your response. I take 1 tbsp of flax a day as per the daily dozen. That said I have recently found a vegan DHA for 500mg. I can I take it every other day?




                  0
            2. Being a family of 5- the vegan options( prohibitively expensive) pushed me to take fish oil for family. I have found these at Costco online. Feel Good Omega-3 1015 mg., 180 Organic Capsules-21.99-free shipping. Can not find this brand anywhere, but Costco usually sources well. What do you think?




              1
      1. In this regard, i wonder.
        Does women converts better ALA to DHA,
        Have any relation to the fact that women have higher body fat percentage than men?




        0
        1. I think one of the reasons is to support a potential fetus. It would be interesting if post menopausal women converted just as well. I know when women get pregnant conversion goes way up, I’ve seen as high as 35% in some studies.




          0
          1. Not yet,
            I don’t sure this test is offered by the standard health care services in my country,
            Maybe this test can be done only with private health services.
            But i want to check my level in the near future.
            I’m curious to know.




            0
        2. What if your flax seeds have had all the oils heated out of them during processing? Does anyone ever know how their flax seeds are processed? Heating to 3 x boiling point is not uncommon in seeds.




          0
      2. This is in line with what Joel Fuhrman MD says as well. As we age we are less efficient at converting ALA to DHA. And even less able in men as we age. He too recommends an algae based source of Omega 3. Brenda Davis RD says the same. She recommends taking an algae based omega 3 supplement 2-3 times per week. Dr Greger recommends supplementing a WFPB diet as well, but did not mention frequency. Is this DAILY Dr Greger? Or is 2-3 times per week enough per Brenda Davis RD? And the micro algae supplements are in a capsule in a base of oil. Do we need to worry about the OIL for those of us on ESSELSTYN diets with NO OIL!!!!? Thanks




        2
        1. It’s a daily recommendation.

          Each 500mg capsule I take daily has just 20mg of non-algal oil (sunflower oil). I cannot see Esselstyn freaking out over just 20mg. Can you?




          2
          1. could you be so nice as to post a link to this supplement and a picture of the nutritional label showing the 20mg amount?

            i’ve been trying for years to find out how much oil is in a capsule.

            i reversed my ‘inoperable brain disease” 5 years ago by going on a NO OIL WFPBD and always worried about the oil in supplement capsules.

            thank you very much, scott.
            donald.

            .




            4
    2. Due to individual variation in conversion status I believe the suggestion is based on what is the safest, most consistent recommendation in general to ensure the majority of the population get enough. Kind of like B12… it’s safest to recommend a supplement, but not every vegan will end up with B12 deficiency. You could consider getting tested to see whether what you are consuming and converting is sufficient by dietary intake alone if you feel you get enough:)




      2
      1. He said it is not enough for Optimal health.
        But the used in the word “Optimal” is ridiculous in my opinion.
        Following the same logic, i can says that one hour of intensive physical exercise every day
        is not enough, because 10 hours is better on hour, therefore everyone should do at least 10 hours exercise every day.
        I think this is the main problem with Dr Micahel greger philosophy.
        They are not pragmatic, Not everyone have enough time and money.
        And i think Dr greger not sensitive to this fact at all.
        He fails in the Pragmatic Theory.
        This is the reason to why i prefer Dr Mcdougall philosophy over Dr greger,
        He is much more realistic. Plus, i can’t afford myself to apply Dr greger nutrition for
        “Optimum Health” , It’s just too expensive !! , and i don’t have enough time for this!,
        It simply something i can’t afford myself!




        1
          1. The supplements that he recommend are very expensive! This is fact!
            Your sarcasm don’t disprove this simple fact, even not a little.
            And yes, Even 9 serving of fruits every day can be very expensive for many,
            Fruits are very expensive , and not everyone can afford themselves at least 9 serving of fruits + 3-4 expensive supplements.
            Maybe you can afford yourself , but many others can’t, and your sarcasm weapon can’t disprove facts.
            Nice try..




            0
            1. Protein Deficient: I have never seen Dr. Greger recommend 9 servings of fruit. The daily dozen has 4 servings. Dr. Greger makes the hardest recommendation for only 1 supplement, which is B12 and is dirt cheap. He recommends 2 other supplements, but you certainly do not have to take them. The fact is, eating a healthy diet is the cheapest. Here is some data to back up that claim. And note that these videos don’t even address how much money you will likely save in medical costs when you eat healthy (I don’t think — it’ s been a long time since I watched).
              > Eating On A Healthy Budget: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-healthy-on-a-budget/
              > Eating Healthy On The Cheap: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-healthy-on-the-cheap/
              > Cheapest Source of Vitamin B12: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cheapest-source-of-vitamin-b12/
              > Biggest Nutrition Bang For Your Buck: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/biggest-nutrition-bang-for-your-buck/




              12
              1. No, no, no… eating the healthy diet is not the ceapest, not in Germany. First, the German gouverment is supporting the egg, meat and diary industrie us much as they can – not the ecological farmers. For example you pay 19 % TAX on oatmilk but 7 % TAX for milk, 19% for tofu but 7 % for pork meat. 1 kg apple cost at this time 4 € but you can get 1 kg chicken for less. In addition, if you like to eat a whole, plant-based, low-fat diet you have to make most of your food by your self – that cost time to cook, to buy (and read all the labels) and energy, you can’t go quick in a restaurant to have a snack or meal… even if you will find a vegan restaurant it is not sure you will get a healthy meal. For me and my wife I pay every months (only for food) about 800 €… my sister and his husband, eating “normal”, not “Bio” pay 400 – 500 €. Maybe you are right if you take in consider the cost for medicine at the USA, but not in Germany. The normal health insurance in Germany pay all the medicine – for example my parents (each) take about 10 different drugs, daily and have to pay only 20 € per month, called self-participation.
                I have a vegan friend from Texas on Strava, he sometimes post pictures of nice fruits he bought. Last week I saw bell paper each for 1 $… 3 – 4 pieces ar about 1 kg ( 3 – 4 $) I pay at my shop 5 € for 1 kg.
                500 g dried apricots in a good quality, without add sugar or sulfur you have to pay 7,50 €, you eat rather dried mango, yes 250 g for 2,95 €…
                In addition to that all, my wife and me have to eat more potatos, rice, vegetables and fruits at every meal now; comparing to our time before going vegan.
                So, eating vegan is cheap; I can say, this is a myth. SORRY…
                But nevertheless, as long as we can affort it for us, we will stay on this food, don’t worry. ;-)
                Only for information, we pay about 20 % of the income for food, about 30 % for the rent of the house, petrol for the cars we need is about 10 – 15 %… and we have a normal income in Germany. ;-)




                5
                1. Steffen: It’s true I can’t speak for other countries. In America, *even* with government subsidies of animal products, a vegan diet is cheaper. NutritionFacts covers this in at least one video. Here’s an example: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-healthy-on-the-cheap/
                  .
                  Another thing I would point out is that a good portion (half or more depending on who you are talking to) of a whole plant food diet should be starchy foods like beans, intact grains, and potatoes. When you figure out the weight of those, you would want to do it cooked. At least in America, those are *very* cheap foods. Now consider that when you are comparing costs of a diet, you have to compare the cost of the entire diet, not individual foods.
                  .
                  I would be interested in hearing about studies from different countries which are similar to the research done in the example I linked to above.
                  .
                  One last thought for you: Beyond the cost of the diet itself, it would be interesting to factor in other costs of diet, such as health costs/getting sick. I’m not sure that would be as big a factor in other countries (money wise) as in America, but it would be interesting–if even possible.




                  3
                  1. Hello Thea: Please, don’t take ( at no time) my words personal…All your arguments are right, no question.

                    But again, in my experiences with patients they don’t bite. Not in the beginning of there way, if they are willing to go with… most of my patients have never before a look to organic food. Often, they have no idea there is a different. They look only for the price:If they get a frozen pizza for 2 €, why should they buy a bread for 4,50 €? What the hell are kidney beans, can I eat them? Whole weat pasta – are you kidding me? It tast disgusting… and I should eat all this without chees? You are a liar mr. Jurisch, it is not cheaper, yesterday I was by Mcdonalds and I eat 2 cheese burger for 1 € each – that’s cheap. What my health? Look at me, I’m 45 year, no pain, I’m strong and this little blood pressure, not a big deal with the drug the doctor gave me. You know, I like to have fun in my life…
                    Such kind of discussions I have more then 5 times every week – and therefor I stopped to say, a healthy fiet is cheaper then the others… ;-)




                    3
                    1. Steffen: I have no problem with your posts at all. I’m just having a discussion with you. I understand where you are coming from. You are in a difficult position!




                      1
                2. Yes, Steffen! We just spent a late 2 summer months in Treviso, near Venice and found eating organic WFPB was quite expensive! We are used to California fruit and veggie abundance. AND it was difficult, our refrigerator was not very cold, the peaches (so expensive) went rotten in a day or two AND we could not find a Vitamix for under $1000!




                  2
                  1. go to http://www.walmart.com , look for the NINJA WJ600 (i think), it’s the 1000 watt one, not the 900 watt cheapo IN THE STORE with 6 razor sharp blades on the stick going up the middle and a huge 72 oz USABLE capacity caraffe. others will say 64 oz capacity but you can’t fill it past 45 or 50 or whatever or it will overflow, very deceptive advertizing. you won’t be sorry and it’s only around $65 if you get it on sale and delivered right to your door or the nearest store. been using mine every single day for a year now and it still looks brand new. one of my favorite purchases yet and it’s just a rinse and clean and dry procedure. literally 90 seconds tops.




                    1
                  2. Organic produce is incredibly expensive where I live in Australia, however the huge costs never even enter my mind. I just pay the price I have to pay in order to receive the food that my body needs. Everything else is irrelevant. The more people complain about price, the less people will give this type of lifestyle a try which means the less chance there is of this particular lifestyle becoming more mainstream and therefor cheaper for everyone. Harden up and eat a fresh organic apple! :D




                    3
                3. You shouldn’t even be paying taxes man. Supporting corrupt western puppets who will only push their non-sense on you through education and then bring in rapefugees is dumb as fuckhell.




                  0
            2. I say this with as much respect as I can, but I’m afraid I don’t buy that fruits are very expensive. They are NOT, also 99.999% of everyone has a cellphone along with a cell phone bill. If one can afford a cell phone, one can afford to buy fruit. Again, not trying to pick an argument, I just see this argument often. In my opinion, people need to prioritize, my sister says she can’t afford to pay her electric bill, but she has a $150 dollar phone bill (this bill covers 4 phones in her family) and they go to the movies about every weekend. I have told her this–and she says I am “splitting hairs” and I should keep my nose out of her family business. It’s all about choices, and prioritizing. And yes, I’ve even heard the argument that cell phones are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for use in an emergency. Uh, yeah. Okay. :-)




              5
              1. “If one can afford a cell phone, one can afford to buy fruit”

                To hold a cell phone is much cheaper than buying fruits at least in the long run,
                do your math please.

                “It’s all about choices, and prioritizing. ”

                I agree on that! the decision to whether to waste all the money of tons of fruits
                or not, is matter of choice and prioritizing.

                “Again, not trying to pick an argument, I just see this argument often”

                You are not trying to argue, you are just doing it!
                At least you can save me all this boring craps.




                0
              2. “If one can afford a cell phone, one can afford to buy fruit”

                To hold a cell phone is much cheaper than buying fruits at least in the long run,
                do your math please.

                “It’s all about choices, and prioritizing. ”

                I agree on that, the decision to whether to waste all the money of tons of fruits
                or not, is matter of choice and prioritizing.

                “Again, not trying to pick an argument, I just see this argument often”

                You are not trying to argue, you are just doing it.




                0
            3. I think some of the confusion about the fruit and vegetable recommendations are in the word “serving”. Most serving sizes, in general, are 1/2 Cup. 1/2C beans, 1/2C corn. A serving size of grapes is 5 grapes; a serving size of banana is 1/2 banana. Last time I was at the grocery store bananas were 59 cents/pound – which allowed me 2 bananas. That means a serving of banana was 15 cents. Five servings of banana is about 75 cents. Most people I know spend more than that on their daily latte, gum, candy bar, chips or fast-food sandwich.




              3
        1. Of course, whilst I agree it’s nice to at least know what is ‘optimal’ based on current research, I agree the somewhat reductionist approach is not always easily incorporated, and a more practical approach that still leads to excellent results (such as McDougalls) is more appealing and accessible to many. But I still agree with Dr Greger that people should still be told what is ‘best’ and they can decide where they fall after that.




          6
    3. Jeffrey,

      1 Cup (170g) uncooked Quinoa contains 79.9mg DHA (22:6 n-3)

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/
      (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” DHA is listed under polyunsaturated as “22:6 n3”
      also
      Dulse, Wakame, Laver and Sea Lettuce (seaweeds/sea vegetables) contain substantial amounts of EPA. (20:5 n-3)
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p

      Dulse can have 3 times more EPA than Wakame which can have about twice as much as Laver.
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/

      (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” EPA is listed under polyunsaturated as “20:5 n3”
      http://www.clinicalnutritionjo

      In
      Phase 2 the study they only gave the participants 172mg DHA (equivalent
      to approx. 2 dry cups worth of quinoa) and 82mg EPA (equivalent to
      approx 40g raw ie WET wakame and dry likely has much more EPA) which
      raised US Vegans Blood EPA+DHA an average of 1.7% from 3.5% to 5.2%.




      1
  2. If you get plenty of short chain omega 3s from your diet, should you still supplement with dha?

    Also, how can you determine what dha supplements are contaminant free?




    0
        1. My initial thought was that here was someone who was a bit paranoid, then I checked the ingredients on the algal DHA I just pruchased…
          Gelatin (not vegetarian I assume. I initially became vegan for environmental reasons, then added health. So as long as the gelatin is from road kill, that would be OK. The bottle says, “Fish-Free plant sourced DHA Omega-3”. I guess that doesn’t mean vegan), Ascorbyl Palmitiate (probably OK, although one study said it’s an oxidant), annatto caramel (a food dye. One source linked it to irritable bowel syndrome. This may be a very rare allergic type reaction?), Carmine (another dye. It’s from cochineal, derived from insects, so is not vegan. Dangerous allergies have occurred, although rarely I hope).




          2
          1. Yeah unfortunately gelatin is not vegan and contains animal proteins. It’s all too common in supplements. It’s made from ground up pig and cow skin and cartilage.




            3
          2. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0164SLU8M/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

            This supplement was the only one epa/dha supplement i found on amazon that is carrageenan free.

            As stated on the bottle:
            Serving size 2 capsules. (60 caps in bottle)
            Omega 3 from Algal oil- 1000mg
            DHA-320 mg
            EPA-150mg
            DPA-34mg
            Vitamin E-17.18 IU
            Other ingredients- rice bran oil, vegetable cellulose,natural lemon flavor,natural peppermint flavor,silicon dioxide,citric acid
            This product does NOT contain animal products,derivatives or by products. It is free from GMO’s PCB’s dioxins,Mercury,PCB’s,Gluten,Yeast,Milk,Diary,Sugar and Salt.
            It has a “made in USA” “non GMO” and “V” for vegan certified logos on the bottle.




            7
    1. If it is fish derived make sure it is purified. If it isn’t on this site don’t buy it
      “http://www.nutrasource.ca/ifos…”.
      The product reports show you the exact batch numbers and tests include radiation now.




      0
  3. So a 250mg supplement was only enough to get them from 3.1% to 4.8%?

    What if you eat a lower amount of omega-3/DHA/EPA fat normally? Is 250mg still enough in that case? Like what if I normally got only 1%? Would I need to take twice that amount of supplements?




    0
    1. Reading the full text, the study included those with level 0.5% or higher, so it seems that was sufficient at lower levels. However as with most things, there is always individual variation, so individual testing will provide the answer you ask :)




      0
      1. Hey just wondering… I am almost at the point of taking a DHA supplement…but I heard that more DHA increases IGF-1… and a lot of Dr Greger’s videos talk about lowering your IGF-1 to avoid cancer etc… Has anyone addressed this yet? Thanks heaps.




        0
        1. Hello Jared,
          What a great question! I was not aware that DHA might lead to increases in IGF-1. I just looked up “DHA IGF-1” in PubMed, and found:

          This article, which looked at growing pigs that were fed DHA-enriched diets compared with controls that were given soybean oil. They found “increased muscle insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) EXPRESSION [caps by me] (P<0·05) and insulin action", but the actual IGF-1 plasma levels were not different between the two groups.

          This study was of adolescent boys, and found “a positive association between changes in DHA status and plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) during intervention (β = 0.24, P = 0.03, n = 78)”. Of note the DHA supplement used here was fish oil.

          So, it seems there is some evidence, although not consistent between studies, that DHA supplements can increase IGF-1. Given the impact on brain function, though, and the fact that I am 62 years old, I think I’ll keep taking my algal DHA/EPA.

          I hope this helps.




          2
          1. PHENOMINAL QUESTION AND PHENOMINAL ANSWER!!

            thanks guys.

            Dr Jon: is that a pic of you with a surfboard?
            I can’t tell because it’s too small and too grainy.

            .




            0
              1. oh, now that’s very cool.

                I think it’s going on my bucket list except i’d probably be in a self contained, air-conditioned recreational vehicle :o)

                .




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      1. If you get deva, since it has no EPA, just grow some purslane in your backyard like Dr. Gregor does. Purslane has EPA in it. Michael Pollen (who I don’t always agree with) says that Purslane and lambs quarters are the two healthiest plants on the planet today.




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        1. nc54,
          Since purslane, although a great and VERY nutritious and abundant food (watch out though there are poisonous plants that look like purslane which often grow amongst purslane or in similar habitats), it appears to have only trace amounts. If you eat a substantial amount of Portulaca oleracea you could get some EPA but I think a more practical source would be the seaweeds. Variety in diet as we have seen in many studies cited by nutritionfacts and Dr. Greger can be very important, but so can having reliable staples. NC54 I think you are good to promote purslane consumption regardless and people should be able to have many types of edible plants and macroalgae, plus edible fungi for many reasons.

          In descending order in terms of EPA content per amount of seaweed/sea vegetable are: dulse, wakame, laver, nori, and sea lettuce. Plus sea lettuce, nori, laver and dulse can be eaten in greater amounts than wakame or kelp and kombu which have far more iodine in them than we likely need or want in our diet. Actually wakame is in the middle of iodine content so you can get a good amount EPA if you just eat a reasonable amount of wakame (without including other species of seaweeds) and I’m not even sure if kelp or kombu have EPA or DHA.




          1
      2. mmmkay and GreenSmoothieParty,

        1 Cup (170g) uncooked Quinoa contains 79.9mg DHA (22:6 n-3)

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/
        (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” DHA is listed under polyunsaturated as “22:6 n3”
        also
        Dulse, Wakame, Laver and Sea Lettuce (seaweeds/sea vegetables) contain substantial amounts of EPA. (20:5 n-3)
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p

        Dulse can have 3 times more EPA than Wakame which can have about twice as much as Laver.
        http://nutritiondata.self.com/

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/

        (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” EPA is listed under polyunsaturated as “20:5 n3”
        http://www.clinicalnutritionjo

        In
        Phase 2 the study they only gave the participants 172mg DHA (equivalent
        to approx. 2 dry cups worth of quinoa) and 82mg EPA (equivalent to
        approx 40g raw ie WET wakame and dry likely has much more EPA) which
        raised US Vegans Blood EPA+DHA an average of 1.7% from 3.5% to 5.2%.




        0
        1. I’ve not seen that one mentioned. Swanson generally has a good reputation for vitamins and supplements from what I understand. I use their iodine supplement. Looks pretty good. I’m not sure how many servings there are in the bottle, but each one only has 120 mg DHA so you’d need at least 2 to get 250 mg.




          0
          1. There have been lots of questions about good brands of supplements.
            Dr. Greger identifies 6 different algae based DHA supplements in this video:
            http://nutritionfacts.org/video/algae-based-dha-vs-flax-2/

            If you live in Canada you can also look for omega 3 supplements that have an 8-digit NPN (Natural Product Number) to give you assurance of product safety (ie. no unwanted/potentially harmful ingredients/contaminants). I know there are differences between the US and Canada with respect to regulation of health products. Manufacturers must get a product licence from Health Canada to sell their products in Canada and Health Canada assesses the product and if it deems it to be safe, effective and of high quality, will issue a licence.

            Hope this helps!




            1
              1. everyone seems concerned about carrageenan.
                could you please let me know what the problem with it is?

                i’ve wondered why, if someone doesn’t want to consume it, that they just don’t softly chew it like gum until the supplement has been swallowed then spit it out.
                i’m assuming we are talking about the softgels?

                ps. i remember when softgels first came out there was only one plant that produced them and somewhat remember that pretty much everything in them, no matter the brand, was basically the same. i wouldn’t swear to that but i seem to remember that for some reason.

                i have a feeling it’s the same with most supplements unless specifically made for a company with proprietary ingredients.




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          2. hey TCG.

            search for lugols iodine drops online or ebay.

            they’re much more concentrated and economical. you only need a drop for many times the RDA instead of dropper fulls for the same amount like i’m now doing.

            my doc just gave me some to replace the life-flo liquid iodine plus that i had been buying.

            the lugols will probably last over a year as opposed to a month of the other drops PLUS is waaaay cheaper.




            0
            1. Thanks for the tip. I don’t supplement 100% RDA because I do eat some salt but rarely. I don’t add salt to anything and pretty much eat WFPB at home most of the time so I figured I need some iodine. My TSH is normal though.




              0
        1. Yes, they do worldwide shipping, but obviously there’s a delivery fee; although it’s not too bad to the USA.

          I didn’t add the URL since I didn’t know if it’s OK to, but others have so here you go http://www.nuique.com/.

          They’ve an offer on for 3 for the price of 2, which is what I got a while back. Me and the wife take 1 a day. I also consume 2 tbsp of flax and sometimes an extra 1-2 tsp of china seed per day, so I think I’m good to go omega-3 wise.




          0
          1. It’s a very similar product to vegetology Opti3 just to let others know. Vegetology also offers the 3 bottles for the price of 2. Vegetology, however, also has a small amount of vegan D3 in the pill. Not sure the reason for that.




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      1. veg4life: There’s one problem with liquid DHA/EPA. Both of them, especially DHA, have very high peroxidation indices, and the peroxides of unsaturated fatty acids are worse than nothing.




        0
        1. So you think there’s a high probability of rancidity? I think you would be able to tell by the taste. Furman ships his oil in a ice pack to keep it cold.




          0
          1. nc54: My guess is that the Furman product contains antioxidants to minimize the oxidation. Still, it’d be more prone to oxidation than properly encapsulated (nitrogen flushed) pills. The problem with pills is that they usually contain all sorts of undesirable additives, like caramel color and carrageenan.




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            1. That makes sense. That’s probably why Fuhrman has to ship in an ice pack to prevent rancidity. I think the tiny amount of cartagena is not a problem in otherwise healthy individuals. Dr. Gregor seems fairly neutral on it. He thinks the only time we should avoid it is with something unhealthy.




              0
        1. That’s too bad. I hope you sent it back for a replacement/refund. I have never had a bad experience and have been using it for years.




          0
    1. I use Ovega-3 (270 mg DHA, 135mg EPA per capsule) but there’s a small amount of Carrageenan and some caramel color, which some find objectionable. My wife uses Dr. Fuhrman’s liquid DHA / EPA (175 mg DHA, 88 mg EPA) per 0.75mL serving). I am not sure about the “affordable” part – to me, Ovega-3 is affordable. Dr. Fuhrman’s is more expensive.




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      1. I put the capsule in my mouth, gently bite it until it bursts open, swallow the oil and shutout the nasty Carmel colored carrageenan-containing capsule. I agree that Dr Furmans is too expensive.




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    2. It appears all of the Schizochytrium sp. based algal LCPUFA supplements are still produced near Baltimore by the Martek division of DSM. That would include Deva, Nordic Naturals, I Health, Source Naturals, Dr. Fuhrman and anything else with “Life’s DHA” or “Life’s Omega” on the label.




      0
      1. Thanks for the information. I bought some CVS brand (Life’s DHA) 300mg Algal DHA for now. These were 2 for 1 and thus fairly affordable. I will study the additive issues going forward.




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    1. Hi Lucy, my wife is vegan and 6 months pregnant with twins. In addition to eating 1 tbsp of chia seeds each day in meals, and 1/4 cup of walnuts, she takes one Ovega-3 pill each day too. Because she’s having twins she’s considered high risk, and she gets frequent bloodwork and ultrasounds to track progress. So far all is going very well with blood results and baby sizes, etc. That’s as much evidence as I can provide to indicate that amount is sufficient. I’d advise pregnant women consult with a vegan registered dietician to be on the safe side. We’re working with Julieanna Hever, whom I would recommend.




      0
      1. I read that ultrasounds can have a negative effect on a fetus’s brain development while in the womb. Do some research on this. I can’t remember where I read the article. it might have been on Mercola’s website.




        1
        1. What is the alternative to check on the health, safety and position of the babies in the womb?

          I would say that even if this were true (I have no idea) it is a far greater risk to not check on them (unless there is another readily available option).




          0
          1. What are the benefits? What information can you find out through one that would result in a different course of action being taken for the mother or baby?




            0
            1. Where the placenta lies; high or low. May man more regular checkups to ensure no serious life threatening complications (for mother and baby) occur.

              Is the baby in the beach position? If so, and so close to the due date, then maybe the mother would taken into hospital so when she starts labour immediate care can be administered by the appropriate doctors and midwives.

              That’s loads of things that an ultrasound is used for to find out. Have you had a baby? If so, you would know this surely?

              If there are safer alternatives then great.




              0
      1. I wonder why meditation seems to protect against brain shrinkage ? Maybe we are somehow activating parts of the brain through meditation … I’m starting my meditation program tonight..




        0
      2. Play chess, and other games against your iPAD. Study foreign languages. Sing. Play musical instruments. Read books. Socialize with people. Write a blog on the internet. Learn video editing and put up YouTube videos. There are a million ways to stimulate the brain. There are many apps that will stimulate the brain such as even a simple arithmetic app that tests your ability to do mental addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.




        0
    1. That would be a great study! I’ve seen studies in a talk from Dr Dean Ornish increasing brain size with exercise and another with meditation, so I would not be surprised diet also did the same, either increasing or slowing rate of decrease!




      0
    2. I don’t agree with most of the response here.
      Brain activity is not the only factor.
      I believe nutrition must play a significant role also in cognitive function.
      Dr Greger posted video of the importance of plant based diet,
      On mental health and well being, Mental health is also controlled by our brain.
      In addition, Dr Michael Greger, posted video of the role of Plant Based Diet
      on preventing Cognitive Decline with age.
      So it seems very unreasonable to believe, that you can improve all other brain functions,
      Such as Mental health, Well Being, Cognitive Decline,
      But the most important area of general cognitive functioning and brain volume,
      stay intact.
      Just like any other organs in the body i don’t believe the brain is compartmentalized.
      Seems very strange to assume that one diet improves all body organs, except the brain.
      General Cognitive Function is nothing more than indication of the brain health
      I believe , which is part of the overall health.




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  4. Nice research summary. Thanks Dr. Gregor. I’ve looked carefully at Vegan DHA/EPA supplements before. They all contain additives such as lecithin that are not good for one’s health. (see other videos on this site for example). Why is it hard/impossible to find a supplement without harmful additives and do these harmful additives negate the potential benefits of the EPA/DHA?




    0
    1. Well the supplements used in the study had the typical additives and it still worked. The dose makes the poison. The miniscule amount you get from one pill is not going to be damaging, in my opinion.




      0
      1. But taking it every day…. I’ve searched 30 hours for b12 without additives sending to the netherlands. Now I need to do this for this too…. ???:( :( :(




        0
    2. I found some information on lecithin on the video Carnitine, Choline, Cancer, and Cholesterol: The TMAO Connection. Does that hold true for sunflower lecithin as well? I’m trying to find research as taking the sunflower lecithin has helped with restless legs syndrome.




      0
      1. Dave, Magnesium should help your restless legs. Do you eat a lot of greens, not just salads, but kale, collards, spinach, chard? They have lots of magnesium. I do take a magnesium supplement for days when I don’t get all the greens I need.




        0
        1. Thanks, Rebecca. I don’t eat enough greens, but am trying to get more in. How much magnesium do you take? I generally start feeling it more the later in the evening it gets. When do you take your supplement?




          0
          1. Chef AJ, who cooks and demos cooking for various WFPB events and centers, has people eat a pound of green veggies for breakfast and another later in the day. That sounds like a whopping amount, and for breakfast? She has found that if people on her weight loss program don’t do that, they don’t get the greens in. I haven’t quite managed that, so I take 325 mg in a supplement called Natural Calm, made from ionic magnesium citrate, a highly absorbable form. This is in a powdered form which I stir into water, flavored with organic lemon or orange, and slightly sweetened with organic stevia. In the past I took capsules, getting 250 mg morning and night. Now I just take it in the morning – but evening might work better for you. I’m working my way toward fewer and fewer supplements, but I still seem to need magnesium.

            By the way, you will find lots of talks, interviews and cooking demos by Chef AJ, who is quite entertaining, on Youtube. She tells the story of how she went from being unhealthy and fat to slim, vital and healthy on Dr McDougall’s site. It’s called From Fat Vegan to Skinny Bitch. She is a testament to how much abuse a human body can take and still regain health.




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          2. I just had my blood-work done. The Dr told me my magnesium was high. range is 1.80 to 2.4. Mine was 2.6.
            Also my folate was high.
            I told him I ate beans or lentils 3 times a day plus a big salad and spinach almost daily.
            He said whatever you’re doing, Keep it Up……after looking at the rest of my test results…lol
            The Okinawans also had a high amount of magnesium, potassium and folate.




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    3. Agreed! I read all labels of major Vegan DHA/EPA brands and boy the ingredients lists are terrible! Caramel Color? Questionable soy sources? Carrageenan? Just why!? It defeats the purpose for people like me seeking healthy, clean, minimalistic ingredients lists. Deva and Ovega3 are prime examples of these shady ingredients lists. Sad.




      0
          1. You’re welcome. Just bite carefully to prevent it from squirting out of your mouth and making a mess or forcefully squirting backwards and down your throat and making you cough it out.




            0
            1. Karen Harris: Thank you for sharing this idea with the people on this site.
              .
              To address the issue you brought up in this latest post, I’ll share that I know someone who uses a small sharp knife to gently make a small slit in the pill. Then she just uses her finger to squeeze the oil into her mouth. That’s another technique to accomplish the same goal.




              0
              1. does anyone know the amount of oil in an oil filled capsule in grams?
                over the years i’ve looked and looked but never found a nutritional label which states that amount.

                thea: you do a phenomenal job moderating this site, thank you very much!

                .




                0
                1. AZ DONALD: Thank you for that very nice feedback!!!

                  As to your actual question, I hope someone else can answer as I don’t know.

                  FYI: I’ve seen one example pill and I would be surprised if there was more than 1/4 tsp oil.




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            2. How big are these capsules? Interesting idea. Do you feel you get the majority of the oil out of them? I’m in the same boat–every supplement I’ve looked at has carrageenan and caramel color it appears.




              0
              1. The capsules are probably less than 1/2 x 1/4 inch (can’t measure one right now, not at home). Yes, I get all of the oil out this way; forgot to mention that I also swish the empty ruptured capsule in my mouth with water before spitting it in the trash can.




                0
                1. Karen – thanks for replying. This is a great idea. It’s the best of both worlds. Pollutant free DHA and no carrageenan. I’m going to do this. Thanks!




                  0
  5. DHA pills are expensive compared to other supplements. What is the dosage recommendation? How much “better” is this vs. simply consuming ground flax seed to enable short to long chain fatty acid conversion?




    0
  6. Would it not be a good idea to have one’s blood levels tested before one spends all this money for a supplement? People might differ on how well they convert the short chain omega 3’s into the long chain. I eat about two tablespoons of ground flaxseed virtually everyday. I have yet to have my levels tested.




    0
      1. I have been wrapped up in the Presidential election as well as United Methodist Church politics, since this was the year of our General Conference. I still have followed this website, but haven’t commented as much. I have kept up my cycling everyday to work. I have kept off every pound of my weight loss and then some. I eat a mostly Vegan diet- I can’t always control what others put in what they may feed me. This mostly Vegan diet has probably helped to get my LDL below 80 for the first time without taking Statin drugs. It is now 79. My HDL is now 83- the exercise probably helps this. My triglycerides are 44. When I was obese, it was difficult to get the LDL below 100, even with the Statin drugs. My HDL was often below 20 at that time. I went on this diet for health and for the animals and it sure hasn’t hurt at all.




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    1. I was thinking about that. Bottles of vegan DHA aren’t exactly cheap when compared to the $1.99 /lb. I pay for flax seed at my local natural foods store. I have no idea how much a test would cost but I think it would be cheaper than a year of pills. I tried to get a price from Quest Diagnostics for a Fatty Acid Profile, Comprehensive test #17568 but, “Due to high call volume, your wait will be up to fifteen minutes.” Perhaps if I had heart disease, my insurance would pay for the test.




      0
      1. According to the AHA:
        http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/19/2154#sec-15

        “Individual differences in response to a fixed dose of fish oil can vary considerably. This variation makes prediction of an individual patient’s blood level response to a specific dose problematic.”
        “conclusions regarding the benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, based on studies that did not assess blood levels, may be confusing and misleading because of the inclusion of subjects who did not achieve a therapeutic blood level”
        “there are physiological and genetic reasons for individual variability in blood levels achieved following a fixed dose of fish oil”
        “owing to individual variability, the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids may be better markers of CVD risk/benefit than simple assignment to a fixed dose of omega-3 supplementation”




        0
    2. You raise a good point. If one gets the levels of DHA AND EPA tested then you know what dosage to aim for. Although in the Dr G. video the people under study too 250mg.




      0
    3. I usually recommend it, but it’s not a standard test, and usually not covered by insurances, so it seems to be rarely done! I definitely believe there will be individual variation, as we see with B12 for example.
      I would love to see a study on levels in the population of NFacts followers haha




      0
      1. What is the exact name of this test for DHA that you recommend? I doubt most doctors would know as it is not very routine. Probably the one measuring RBC DHA would be the best.




        0
    4. Also, were the vegans in the studies eating a whole plant based diet, consciously eating omega 3 rich foods like flax and keeping omega 3:6 ratios near even, etc? It seems silly to take a supplement if the results are from vegans that weren’t particularly health conscious.

      What blood test do I ask for?




      0
      1. Yea that would be a great study!

        There are omega three spot tests… however like all tests… there is a window of inaccuracy, and hard to say what the serum levels really correlate to in vivo… when we are talking cognitive decline, it’s a decent risk in my opinion…




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  7. I would like to see an experiment in which radio-labelled ALA and DHA were given and subsequently scanned for in the brain. Measuring plasma levels is, of course, much easier, but may or may not indicate whether the stuff is actually being incorporated into the brain. Does taking pre-formed DHA cause a down-regulation in the ALA/DHA conversion rate? Such an effect is not unusual. When we supplement testosterone, for example, the testes down-regulate their production.

    Meanwhile, I am going to supplement with algal DHA, as Dr. Greger advises.




    0
    1. Good comment but I am not sure that I would volunteer to participate in a radiolabelling experiment.

      People would need to be pretty confident that they would not exceed radiation dose limits from all sources (dental x-rays, PET/CT scans, air travel etc) over any given period before signing up for this type of thing. There are strict regulations/requirements for these experiments but, even if the risk is trivial, I am not sure that I am public-spirited enough to put my hand up for experiments of this kind.
      http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/…/Guidances/UCM163892.pdf

      The lack of random selection of participants may also possibly bias results.




      0
    2. Commenter Andrew Morrice pointed out this article:

      “Is docosahexaenoic acid synthesis from α-linolenic acid sufficient to supply the adult brain?” ( http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163782715000223 )

      …which tracked isotope-labelled ALA. This study seems to suggest that ALA is converted to DHA within the neuron, which is why it might not show up in the plasma. It also suggests to me that something other than increasing blood levels of DHA may be required to mitigate brain deterioration. It may explain why DHA supplementation failed to improve outcomes in Alzheimer’s patients.




      0
        1. I appreciate your clear thinking on this subject.

          I, too, am concerned about the reductionism inherent in recommending DHA supplementation. It seems analagous to the recommendations for beta-carotene supplementation that came out a few years ago, which proved to be misguided.




          0
      1. Andrew,

        I would ask that you consider the issues raised in referenced publication. After reading the publication some obvious take aways include, “our current inability to properly evaluate the actual conversions, body stores and co factors responsible for “adequate” levels of ALA to DHA conversion”. I think this statement speaks volumes.

        The methodologies including the compartmentalized modeling procedures are acknowledged to be fraught with potential errors. (“Interestingly, in one study the compartmental model predicted that the amount of dietary DHA required to maintain serum DHA concentration was 2.2-fold higher than what was directly measured by food duplicate, and the authors concluded that maintenance of DHA status requires greater DHA output from body store utilization or ALA synthesis than was measured in this study”.

        What I find interesting is the lack of information on brain activity, relative to post loading of the non-esterified versions, using SPECT or FMR. These methodologies are costly and difficult. However it would be interesting to show differences in plasticity and other measure of functionality. I suspect, my assumption exclusively, that there are broad differences in each of our brain tissues, based on a host of variability’s, including food, environment, past traumas, etc. that will change the conversions and ultimate needs. This might be the real deal of determination of need. I would not be surprised that there would be a significant differnce between people as illustrated in the findings for depression and other clearly responsive disorders, in some populations.

        I appreciated the author’s clarity with infants and DHA preformed and applaud his use of the steady state infusion method, but it’s currently only in the mouse model.

        Another aspect to consider is, “Specifically , that the lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) pool may be a contributing agent”. Recent developments in the “fish oil” industry have found higher absorption rates with addition of numerous phosphtidyl compounds, which might result in higher brain levels due to changing the PS pool. It would have been an interesting part of this study, if done.

        I did a quick check of the literature and did not find any current human based trial results using the steady state infusion method.

        Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger




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      1. I have been taking vegetoligy for a few years. I think it’s one of the best quality but, for some here, they might not like it for some of the additives. My view is the additives in a pill is so miniscule that’s it not going cause any issues.




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      2. Thanks for all the video Dr. G. and all the participant for their website recommendations. I would also add that if is one is on medications should discuss with their doctors because the omega three and omega six can increase the effects of blood thinners, which may cause you to bruise more easily than usual or bleed for longer. In addition, they can interact with certain medications, such as those that control blood sugar levels or psychiatric disorders.




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      3. To play a little devils advocate, why should I trust this particular brand which I have never heard of? I checked the page of the Vegetology site directed at vegans and it appeared to contain some inaccurate and misleading statements. such as:

        “There are some key nutrients that cannot be obtained from a vegan diet,” and

        “Vegans can be prone to bone, joint and muscular ailments. This is often due to deficiency of key vitamins and minerals.”




        0
        1. Thanks for your comment. I remember being upset as well when reading those statements some years ago, even though the first one is at least technically true. The second is obscure – the main question is what do those vegans (prone to bone, joint and mascular ailments) eat?

          This doesn’t make a big difference for me, though, when having to choose a supplement. They’ve been around for a while, have a very good reputation and they offer the best deal I could find. If anyone can find a better value algae-based DHA+EPA supplement, I’ll be very happy to know about it and I won’t hesitate to switch!




          0
          1. Agree. I can’t find a better value and the company seems to have a great reputation. I’ll probably go with them next order. I like the other poster’s idea of biting the capsule, swallowing the oil, and spitting out the capsule which contains carrageenan.




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              1. Probably messier. That would be the only reason. And it would probably leave some oil behind in the capsule. If you break it in your mouth then it will probably empty the capsule more completely.




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        2. So misleading! Frustrating part is that those that read this will believe it…. vegans have more energy and are so much more pain free than those that eat dairy and animal foods!! Hogwash….. and love the animals! LOL…..




          0
          1. I think it’s important to make a clear distinction between vegan and WFPB. I know too many vegans who consume so much added sugars, oil, salt, white bread and other processed junk and not enough whole plant foods, fail to supplement with b12, and yet for some reason they are convinced that because they are vegan they must be healthier. Until, unsurprisingly, their problems start to manifest themselves, which makes them think they need animal foods to be healthy…

            I’m sure most of you will agree with me, but I just thought it was important to emphasize this point.




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        1. Doesn’t really matter if it’s per 250 mg. It has to be per pill. You can’t split them up. And did you include shipping from the UK? They’re an English company.




          0
          1. DHA and EPA are oil-soluble nutrients. You don’t have to take the exact dose of oil-soluble nutrients every day. You can calculate a weekly dose and take it once a week, or split it in two and take a half-weekly dose twice a week. I didn’t calculate a shipping charge, but when I went to the cart to check out (haven’t done it yet), it indicated that shipping was free. But if you want DHA only, you can go for the Spring Valley (Walmart.com) at $0.164 per 250 mg DHA dose.




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    1. Yeah no kidding, looks like my brain is gonna be $hrunk because my pocketbook is empty! I wonder what inland populations did before supplements?




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      1. Like another person noted, there was a group of vegans who were over 8 on the index even though they weren’t supplimenting. Maybe they were really healthy vegans. Plus you are a women so that helps also. We need more studies with healthy whole food vegans.




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      2. I’ve always been curious about the evolutionary perspective on this as well. I believe the thinking is that the wild animals that inland populations were eating had higher levels of DHA/EPA as compared to current livestock, and that is why our ALA conversion is low. We know from studying Indian populations with a generational ancestry of vegetarianism that they have increased conversion of plant fatty acids. We also know from studying vegans that they have increased ALA conversion compared to fish eaters who have an exogenous source of DHA/EPA in their diet. The video showcases a very interesting study but my question is could their blood levels have been improved simply by increasing their ALA intake rather than through DHA/EPA supplementation?




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    2. I ordered the Ovega 3 and they are the 500 mg softgels….. not sure I did right either… I do eat ground flax seed a few times a week and also dulse in stews and on my salads…. I just can’t be sure about all this. :(




      0
      1. it’s JMO but i’d suggest sticking with 4TBS ground flaxseed/day instead of oils which are refined, concentrated chemicals. the #4 comes from a reference i posted somewhere on here with about a gazillion replies and i don’t remember the source offhand. maybe you could search for it if you are concerned about that amount.

        at least with the flax, you are getting the entire nut or seed along with ALL of the other nutrients inside of it instead of a concentrated chemical which always seems to end up having some problems associated with them once it’s been researched enough.

        again, JMO.

        .




        0
    3. I’m looking at going with Vegetology for my next purchase. https://www.vegetology.com/products/opti3

      The only other one I’ve seen that appears to not have carrageenan in it is O-Mega-Zen 3 but they list “vegetarian capsule” in the ingredients and all the other ones say that their “vegetarian capsule” contains carrageenan. I think they all do. I like the other poster’s idea of biting the capsule, swallowing the oil, and spitting out the capsule.




      0
    1. You’re probably not going to find many people recommending ghee as a DHA source here, due to its (a) animal origin, and (b) saturated fat content. Given a choice between a high-SFA source (ghee) and a low-SFA source (algae/yeast), the nod would go to the low-SFA source, unless there’s some overriding reason to do otherwise. And even though most of the milk protein in ghee is removed in the clarifying process, some animal protein remains. I haven no idea whether it’s enough to be problematic. Ghee enthusiasts point to the presence of butyrate as a reason to use it. Butyrate supposedly has anti-inflammatory effects, so maybe that tips the scale back toward ghee a little.




      0
      1. Todd, but what are our other options ? To juice fish, algae or any other living thing ? To me if I have to supplement for DHA, I would rather use dairy source, rather then killing and juicing living things :( which I can’t do because of religious reasons as well.




        0
          1. What do you mean by spamming ?? And Algae, Krill, fish is not animal based ? Take a hike, if you are not interested in my topic. No one is forcing you to reply.




            0
            1. Have you even looked at this site? Dairy has many deleterious consequences for one’s health.

              Algae is photosynthetic creatures. Neither plant, animal or fungi. Certainly not sentient either. Dr G doesn’t recommend fish oil.




              0
              1. Yes, and that’s the reason I have been away from dairy. This is the reason I am asking should I reconsider to get required DHA. Isn’t getting just DHA from some oil, a reductionist approach that Dr. G has been opposing ? I don’t have answers and I am confused. Would love that some expert shed their insight.




                0
                1. There might be some DHA in Ghee, but it’ll be at the expense of all the negative health implications that dairy gives us. In the same way that fish oil is a great source of dha and epa, but also at the risk of containing pollutants.




                  0
                  1. Just did some calculations based on pubmed article I mentioned above, 5 grams of ghee only has 4 mg of DHA! . I guess I will have to look into algae source.




                    0
                2. Thanks for your comment. It is definitely best to get the nutrients your body needs from food, however, since vegans do not eat any animal foods and DHA is only present in animal foods, most notably fish, they would have to look at a DHA algae supplement to meet their needs.

                  Hope this answer helps!




                  0
            2. Isn’t this a learning site for all kinds of eaters? I thought this site is for education for ALL, not just vegans. We need to not name call and discriminate when people come seeking information. Everyone needs to feel safe to freely ask questions without being attacked, right?




              0
          2. While TheHulk may be bringing up Ghee as an option, his intentions are in a positive light and isn’t trying to attack anybody. However with that being said, Scott is correct in stating that there are harmful elements in dairy. I always say to each their own…




            0
        1. TheHulk: Don’t you routinely kill living things for food? Beans were living things before they were harvested, cooked, and eaten. If this bothers you, then by all means use ghee instead. Only you can decide whether the health risk from saturated fat is less important than the ethical aspect of killing algae, or fish.




          0
        2. I suspect you don’t have an idea of how much long chain omega 3 you are getting from ghee. Why not supplement from lab grown algae where you know exactly what you are getting and there is no animal suffering in the process?




          0
          1. Renae: You meant to say a different word than “Hardly”??? ;-)

            I often explain to people that eating dairy is ethically equivalent to eating veal. Sometimes that helps them to “get” the ethical side of dairy.




            0
            1. Haha I’m not sure what you mean ;)

              But yes, it’s a hidden industry secret for sure… I think the image of a cow frolicking in a meadow and coming in by choice to be milked once a day (ummm why if they aren’t feeding their calf?) is one most people seem to grown up believing… far cry from the truth unfortunately…




              0
      1. Like those that argue for meat for omega three… there is a big difference between what the cow is fed and what it eats. The algal form is much more reliable, and comes without the negatives of the ghee :)




        0
  8. What about organic canola oil for someone intolerant to algae supplements, flax, and chia? Is canola oil a viable source of omega 3 or does it contain too much omega 6 to compete with the omega 3?




    0
      1. i feel run-down, tired, exhausted, like immune system is getting suppressed or something. Flax, chia, hemp, seeds or oils. They all do it. I am not allergic. Interestingly, soy does same thing and not allergic.




        0
        1. Interesting.. seems a strange response… have you had an allergy test? I wonder if they are additional ingredients as opposed to the foods…




          0
  9. Hexane used in algal extraction must be flashed off at 156.3 degrees F. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it does constitute heating of the oil. A supercritical CO2 extracted algal DHA does not seem to be commercially available.

    And what about supercritical CO2 extracted fish oil? Nordic Naturals
    offers this. It contains no hexane, and because it
    is not heated, the oils do not degrade, as is the case with industry standard heat
    extracted oils. PCB levels are reportedly negligible. Cheaper than algal
    extracts. Is this an alternative?




    0
    1. Murdering fish to extract oil from them is neither nice nor sustainable. Algae can be grown in labs and to the very best of our knowledge the algae are not sentient, this no animal suffering. Plus fish live in our sadly very polluted oceans.




      0
      1. Not 100% sure, but I think Consumers Labs has a review of Ovega-3 and other brands of fish and algal oil. Probably didnt test for the hexane issue mentioned above, though. Pretty sure lead was tested and actual DHA content. It’s a subscription service, but some summary information is often available to non-subscribers.




        0
        1. Karen, you are correct. Consumer
          Lab (requires subscription) tested these 3 algal oil capsule makers: Deva Vegan
          Omega-3; Ovega-3; and Source Naturals EPA-DHA and “approved” all
          three. https://www.consumerlab.com/re
          Consumer Lab also tested and reports results for fish, krill, and calmari sources of EPA
          and DHA but I did not think those would be of interest here. For this study ConsumerLab.com purchased 30 dietary
          supplement products sold in the U.S. claiming to contain EPA and/or DHA and
          tested them for their levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA and, if listed,
          ALA), mercury, lead, PCBs, and signs of spoilage (unless containing flavorings
          or deeply colored — issues which prevent accurate testing for spoilage, as
          noted above). Enteric-coated capsules were tested to see if they properly
          released their ingredients. Only 4 of the 30 were not approved, all due to
          discrepancies in printed levels of omega-3 fatty acids or other labeling
          discrepancies. I’ve been taking a daily Ovega-3 for about 9 months now.
          BTW, thanks for the tip to bite the the capsule, swallow the oil, and spit the capsule out. It’s a very easy way to avoid the carrageenan and caramel coloring.




          0
    2. 1 Cup (170g) uncooked Quinoa contains 79.9mg DHA (22:6 n-3)

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5705/2
      (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” DHA is listed under polyunsaturated as “22:6 n3”
      also
      Dulse, Wakame, Laver and Sea Lettuce (seaweeds/sea vegetables) contain substantial amounts of EPA. (20:5 n-3)
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131239/

      Dulse can have 3 times more EPA than Wakame which can have about twice as much as Laver.
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2618/2

      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2766/2

      (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” EPA is listed under polyunsaturated as “20:5 n3”
      http://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(14)00076-4/fulltext

      In Phase 2 the study they only gave the participants 172mg DHA (equivalent to approx. 2 dry cups worth of quinoa) and 82mg EPA (equivalent to approx 40g raw ie WET wakame and dry likely has much more EPA) which raised US Vegans Blood EPA+DHA an average of 1.7% from 3.5% to 5.2%.




      0
      1. Plant Food Source of DHA: Just this morning I wanted to use NutritionData.Self to look up DHA in various foods and did not know how to do that. Thank for the information about that DHA is 22:6 and EPA is 20:5 !!! So helpful.




        0
          1. Simone: A simple and good question. The answer, though, is not so simple. :-(
            .
            It’s difficult to find much direct DHA in plants. For example, it’s exciting that cooked quinoa has even a little DHA, but the amount in cooked quinoa is not enough to count as a significant source of DHA. (Assuming I’m reading the page right: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6587?fgcd=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=50&sort=default&qlookup=quinoa&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=.) Would we get enough pre-formed DHA on a healthy whole plant food based diet, one devoid of all meat/fish, dairy, eggs, oils and only say 1 ounce of omega 6 rich nuts? I have never seen this question answered. This is the first time I found out that we could get even some DHA from quinoa. How many other whole plant foods have DHA in them? And is it enough???
            .
            While we may not be able to get much DHA from whole plant foods, we can definitely get a lot of ALA from whole plant foods. And our bodies can convert ALA into DHA and EPA. The problem is, our bodies are not so efficient at converting ALA to DHA/EPA. So, the question again is: can we get enough ALA from plant foods in a healthy whole plant food based diet in order to meet our DHA needs? That’s one (super important) question that I don’t think was answered by this video. And as other people are pointing out, there is reason to believe that some people are better able to convert ALA than others. So, it may be that some people don’t need supplementation and others do.
            .
            The nice thing is that you can be tested to see if you in particular need supplementation or not. It would be good to repeat the test over time, because it may be that our body’s ability to do this conversion changes as you age.
            .
            Here’s a bit of info that is also relevant to this conversation. You will hear people report abysmally low conversion rates of ALA into DHA. But those super-low numbers tend to be for people who eat fish. Check out this: The following 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
            .
            Also note the following study:
            .
            American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. November 2010, Vol 92, Number 5, Pages 1040-1051. The vegans in the study actually had highest levels of DHA compared to the fish eaters, non-fish-eating meat-eaters, and vegetarians. This was despite the fact that they consumed less omega 3s. (Stephanie also found an article that summarizes the study: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Omega-3-ALA-intakes-enough-for-EPA-DPA-levels-for-non-fish-eaters?utm_source=copyright&utm_medium=OnSite&utm_campaign=copyright
            .
            While this video (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/should-vegans-take-dha-to-preserve-brain-function ) showed numbers indicating that 2/3rd of the vegans looked at had sub-par DHA levels in their blood, we know that 1/3 of the vegans had plenty of DHA in their blood. That information combined with the information in the above study suggests to me that there is a way for at least a set of people on a plant based diet to get enough DHA from their regular plant foods (including ground flax or chia seed) alone. But we don’t have proof of that as far as I know. So, if you don’t want to get tested, the safe thing to do would be to supplement. But if you get tested and the levels come out fine, I can’t think of any reason to supplement.
            .
            What do you think?




            0
            1. Even though I do recommending testing for those wanting to avoid supplements, when we are talking about cognitive function, it can be a lot of trust in one test, considering many labs have scarily large windows of inaccuracy…




              0
              1. Moderator Renae: That is a very interesting point. I was aware that lab tests can vary widely for some test, but I wasn’t aware that test variance is a problem for this specific test or for tests in general. I saved my reply above, because I suspect that I might want to share it again in the future some time. But I’m going to modify it to include your caution.
                .
                While I think you have a point, here are my thoughts in response: If I understand this video correctly, we are talking about a veeery slow shrinkage over the course of decades starting at about age 20. My key theories/guesses are: 1) Being off a few years on supplementing is not going to make any significant difference to actual cognitive function and 2) while any one lab return result might be off, consistent return results over years would probably be pretty accurate about whether one meets the threshold or not.
                .
                So, say I do a test today and again next year (maybe with a different lab to be sure) and the two tests are in agreement. Then I feel that I probably have a pretty good idea of where I stand. Now, let’s say that the test looked good the first year and so I chose not to supplement. Then the second year the test was very different so I took a supplement to be on the safe side. All I have missed is a year’s worth of supplements. That does not concern me. On the other hand, if my blood work looks good two years in a row, then I might repeat the test every 3 or so years after that just to make sure things are on track. This seems a reasonable and safe approach to me.
                .
                What do you think of that?




                0
                1. This was the article that initially got me concerned about lab accuracies-
                  http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2014/march/vitamin-d/

                  Also working in a hospital with daily bloods on hundreds of patients you see a lot of lab errors, and can be anywhere in the chain from collection, to processing, to analysis!

                  I agree, like say body fat testing scales, if you have a baseline you can interpret from there, even if the exact numbers are off you can see a trend.

                  Usually the same lab is recommended for repeats as the same equipment and process is used, so more likely to be consistent. However it would be interesting to compare inter-lab results of course too.

                  I can’t really say what is ideal right now as the evidence really isn’t there, but it sounds like a smart approach!




                  0
            2. I appreciate your long, well-researched post. Good to know we are better at converting ALA to DHA. However, I don’t see the big deal in just supplementing it. There’s great evidence it helps and is beneficial. Why take the chance? Just take a supplement.




              0
              1. Thatcoolguy: Why? Well, algae-based DHA/EPA supplements are expensive. In addition to cost, there is a hassle issue. It may be no big deal for you to take a supplement, but I hate the hassle of it. And then for some people, there is the principle of the matter. The video on this page explains that having blood levels beyond a certain point conveys no benefit. And I’m not 100% convinced about the claim of “great evidence” myself. Either way, explaining what I mean by “the principle of the matter”: if a supplement is not needed, why pay a company money and put something into your body that actually isn’t needed?
                .
                That’s just to answer your question about what the big deal is. Obviously these issues do not concern you. So, in your case, it would definitely make sense to “just take a supplement.” I agree that taking a supplement is the safest/cautious route to go based on what we know now. Bon appetite. :-)




                0
                1. Thea are you taking your B12 and Vit D or testing for those as well? I was totally in your camp until resently when Darryl mentioned my possible zinc issue. I did have it tested and it was on the lower side. And my Vit D is now up to 80! So I dusted off my old vitamin storage box and filled that baby up. I was letting my omega just sit in the fridge. But this video motivated me to listen to the doctor until we know more.

                  Also that test isn’t cheap. However next time I have my blood tested I will add that one. My doctor is so accommodating. I once had this doctor who didn’t care much for my suggestions. He literally asked me who the captain of the ship was. I said me of course!




                  0
                  1. WFPBRunner: I’m not sure how you are in a different camp? You decided to supplement with zinc after testing showed a problem. That’s really all I’m saying, and I’m not even saying everyone *should*. I’m just saying that testing before supplementing in the case of DHA is a reasonable strategy. For others, just taking the DHA supplement is the best strategy. Plus as you know, too much zinc, just like with the vast majority of supplements has been shown to be bad. So, just taking a lot of supplements without having a very good reason for each one strikes me as being a risky proposition.
                    .
                    I agree that the test for DHA is not cheap. On the other hand, neither is the supplement. So, where would someone like to put their money? My personal preference would be to pay for the test rather than the supplement, especially since I’m terrible about taking supplements, this one in particular. On the other hand, my diet is not optimal, and I’m pretty sure I know what the test is going to say. A wise woman in my shoes probably wouldn’t bother with the test. I’m just not always that wise. ;-)
                    .
                    Which leads to your personal questions about B12 and D. I think B12 is different than other types of supplements. As Moderator Renae pointed out, when the potential outcome to being wrong is horrible, then taking the supplement makes a whole lot of sense even if there is a test. Tests can be wrong and as Dr. Greger says, everyone on a WFPB diet should supplement with B12 because we *must* get it from our diet and we use up our body’s stores of B12 over time. B12 deficiency is super horrible and may in some cases be irreversible. So, regardless of whatever a test may show me now, I need to supplement now. So, just supplement already Thea! ;-) Plus, B12 is cheap, and I find the tiny flavorful chewables to be less onerous a burden compared to other supplements.
                    .
                    (FYI: When it comes to DHA, I’m not convinced about the consequences of a test being wrong means a bad or very bad outcome. I’m still working on my thoughts around this so will not share more now.)
                    .
                    For vitamin D, I tested and know my levels are low. But I’m more confused about what should be done about it. I’m not sure if Dr. McDougall has a point about vit D supplementation. I am mostly convinced by Dr. Greger’s work on the vit D topic, however. So, I followed another poster’s advice and got Bluebonnet drops. These are actually pretty cool as all you need is a single tiny drop and that drop does not taste bad. It’s not a big deal. But I do have to remember to take it, and as I said, I’m not good about remembering to do that. Happily, I feel I do not need to worry about my lack of reliable drop-taking. But thank you for asking! I ran to my fridge and took my vit D drop after reading your post.
                    .
                    I’m still on the lookout for a good doctor myself. I hope I get one as good as yours sounds now. The previous Dr. guy sounds like he is in the wrong profession. Good for you for your answer!




                    0
                    1. So true about zinc and finding one that is less than 50 mg is tough. I think I will take for a bit longer and see if I notice a difference with the vitiligo and then maybe go every other day.

                      I think the Vitamin D Council website does a great job of communicating about Vit D. Again the connection with low levels and autoimmune issues is really interesting to me. I have noticed I am sleeping better? Deeper sleep? Could be the Macca?

                      I keep my drops on the counter so I don’t forget.

                      As usual a great response now let’s workout!




                      0
                    2. WFPBRunner: You have a way of making me laugh. At least this time I was not at work snorting tea through my nose trying to be quiet.
                      .
                      OK, off soon to walk my dog!




                      0
            1. Hi Thea, so is it still worth cooking 2 cups of Quinoa per day (not that I do yet) and including Wakame in one’s diet in the hope that it’ll be just as good as taking supplements? In the past I felt unwell after taking the Algae based supplement and had to stop. It may be to do with the brand but I would rather get the required EPA DHA from Whole food if it is possible.




              0
              1. vegank: That’s a tough one! Please note that I’m not an expert, but I have some thoughts for you.
                .
                First, I think about what eating 2 cups of cooked quinoa every day means. First, it means that you are getting more than the servings of grains that Dr. Greger recommends per day for someone eating a 2,000? calorie diet. I don’t know what your calorie needs are. But assuming it is around 2,000 or maybe less, then when you are eating 2 cups cooked grains, you are not eating something else for that extra half cup. I’m not sure how much that really matters. 1/2 cup/1 serving extra grains for 1/2 cup/1 serving less say beans, may not be a big deal. I’m just thinking it through.
                .
                The other problem I see is that ideally you are getting this pre-formed DHA/EPA every day. Dr. Greger recommends a variety of foods for each food category. In other words, eat quinoa today/this week and barley tomorrow/next week, etc. But maybe you could have the quinoa every other day and still be mostly OK? I don’t know. Two cups quinoa has only 58 mg DHA, which out of 250 is not that much. And now we are talking every other day. But maybe over a lifetime that has some benefit? I don’t know. The person who is risk tolerant and/or who has other reasons to avoid supplementing may find this approach reasonable. There’s really a lot I feel we don’t know yet about this story. That leads me to another thought.
                .
                Dr. Greger definitely presented some fairly compelling evidence for people to take preformed DHA/EPA. But I did not personally find it 100% compelling. More like 90%? ;-) And certainly nothing bad is going to happen any time in the next few days or months while you try to figure this out. So, it isn’t worth stressing over. Let’s say you only had the quinoa every other day. As small amount of DHA as that is, it’s still more than probably most non-fish eaters (smart people!) are getting? And if you also eat the wakame, that’s even more of the omega 3. You can play the same game with wakame that you play with quinoa (eat only wakame and you are not getting other greens in your diet), but I’ve heard mostly wonderful things about eating seaweed. You will want to make sure you are not getting too much iodine (watch the videos on NutritionFacts about iodine), but you probably can’t go wrong eating (the right kind of) seaweed every day.?
                .
                None of my thoughts so far present an easy win. So, that brings me back to thinking about the supplement again. If you have had a bad reaction to the DHA/EPA supplement in the past, I definitely do not think it wise to keep taking it. But I think you are particularly smart to think about the idea of trying a different brand. A story to illustrate a point: I know someone who is on a medication and when she first started taking it, she got a *terrible* reaction, shaking and vision issues. The doctors would not listen to her and kept telling her it was all in her head. But she kept going to different doctors and trying different versions/brands of the drug until she finally found one that did not cause the reaction. (After getting the other ones out of her system.) The last one she tried was the same drug (as they all were. It was just a different brand and this brand did not have the preservatives that the other brands had.
                .
                The moral of the story is: Are you reacting to the DHA/EPA or some other ingredient in what you bought? If you can afford it, maybe you could try another brand. While I have not researched it myself, others on this page have reported that the drops seem to have less suspicious things in it and one person reported that a brand of drops that she found looked really good. It had only the DHA, not the EPA, but Dr. Greger says that OK. That’s another thing you might try is a brand that has only DHA.
                .
                What do you think?




                0
                1. I’ve often found that Quinoa seem to dissipate that brain cloud feeling so I am a fan of quinoa but like you say, I would rather not be consuming the same thing every day (and Quinoa isn’t cheep either). Calorie wise I am not too concerned since thanks to the plant based whole food diet and my life style I have no current weight issues, and also find that I don’t become hungry like I used to as a meat eater. This makes it easier to control the calories. I also feel sluggish easily after meals so choosing the kind of food which gives me the maximum benefit with smaller amount is something I am always looking for . That’s where my concern about Omega 3 and DHA came from, whether or not I am consuming enough. But your comment about thinking how we benefit over a life time , and the fact that we’d probably be consuming more Omega 3 than the average non-fish eater does make sense. Dr Greger convinced me 90% too, not because I doubt Dr Greger’s conclusions based on research but because of the unpleasant reaction I had to the Algae DHA pills. The best description I can give you is that mentally it was a similar reaction/sensation to having consumed something containing lots of MSG i.e inability to concentrate , dizziness, clumsiness, and a racing heart. I tried it a few more times to ensure that it was not some other factors but ended up with the same reaction. Apparently some people are allergic to iodine, so they get a bad reaction. I am fine with iodized salt, so that is probably not the cause. I take no medication at all, and have no illness so it doesn’t seem to be a combination issue either. It’s probably safe to say that it was a reaction to that particular brand and the “extra” ingredients. Someone here mentioned Nordic naturals which is a reputable company so that might be my next attempt at taking preformed Algae based DHA , and if that fails by any chance the Drops which you mentioned might be worth a try. I am slightly paranoid about Wakame these days with the pollution, but I guess we can’t avoid everything. I ‘ve actually tried fish after 2 years of being Vegan however my body is now used to having non animal based food , so I had indigestion for about 1 hour – not trying that one again !
                  Thank you Thea for your comprehensive answer, I appreciate it. Hopefully there will be further research on plant based Omega 3 in the future.




                  0
    3. I use Nordic Naturals Algae Oil, but you are mistaken about their use of supercritical CO2 extraction. Check out their website and you can confirm this for yourself. According to Dr. Greger there is one main supplier of algae oil. Notice that all the algae oils contain the same extra ingredients that others on this forum have expressed concern about.




      0
  10. Off-topic, but is anyone knowledgeable on chondroitin/glucosamine supplementation ? Does it actually help ? I realise these are animal sourced, but I have a relative with chronic problems who swears by this supplementation, who I am gradually steering towards healthier wfpb options. :-)




    0
    1. My chubby little grandma, who died at 74 back in the mid-50s, spent her last years in a wheelchair because of arthritic knees. My dad had knee replacement surgery when he was in his 70s. Knees seem to be my weakness, too. They hurt if I don’t take a supplement from Biotics called ChondroSamine-S. It has a number of vitamins and minerals I probably get from food as well as both glucosamine and chondroitin. I don’t like it that they come from animal products, but if I stop taking it my knees start hurting about three weeks later, making walking painful and unappealing. Since walking every day is important, I take it.

      Biotics is a professional line that you won’t find in health food stores. If you want to try it and need to know a source, please let me know.

      If anybody can suggest something non-animal derived that would give me the same results I’d love to learn about it.




      0
      1. Knees are constantly being rebuild. I would say poor blood supply is probably the most influential factor (not diet). The “turn over” of the knees needs ample supply of rebuilding materials curried by capillaries because knees are “busy.” With a decline of these materials reaching the knee (overweight, closed capillaries), the “turn over” is compromised.




        0
      2. I recall seeing an article on GreenMedInfo about sesame seeds being really good for painful arthritic knees. I can’t find it now because, as often seems to be the case with that web-site, the search box wasn’t there. However, putting “arthritis knee pain sesame” into Duck-Go produces many similar articles.




        0
        1. Thank you. I’ll check that out. And Duck-Go? That’s new to me. I’ll check it out, too. Is it just a search engine like Google?




          0
    2. Glucosamine is rather interesting to me, not for joint support, but because glucosamine supplementation is consistently associated with lower mortality and cancer risk in humans, and increases mice lifespan as a calorie restriction mimetic that activates AMPK.

      2010 Total mortality risk in relation to use of less-common dietary supplements
      2011 Use of glucosamine and chondroitin and lung cancer risk in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort
      2012 Use of glucosamine and chondroitin in relation to mortality
      2013 Use of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements and risk of colorectal cancer
      2014 D-Glucosamine supplementation extends life span of nematodes and of ageing mice




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    1. Physical activity also helps preserve brain volume and function. I’ve read that long-term stress can shrink the hippocampus
      (no references handy). So one should generally follow a health-promoting lifestyle.

      The hippocampus (mentioned by Dr. Greger), which is involved in spatial orientation and creating long term memories,
      in particular, can grow new neurons. According to the article in wikipedia
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurogenesis
      several other regions of the mammalian brain have also been shown to be able to grow new neurons. But there are limits to this process, so preservation is the key.




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      1. Yes I saw some studies on exercise and meditation increasing brain size in a talk by Dr Dean Ornish, so no, some level of shrinkage (especially early) can be reversed!




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    1. I don’t completely agree.
      I think his hypothesis about “the fat you eat is the fat you wear”
      is very true.
      I lost weight only when i stopped consume nuts and seeds.
      Even though my calories intake stay the same.(i checked my calories intake with Cronometer).

      The study , that dr Greger pointed, about people consuming nuts who don’t gain weight. is flawed in my opinion from 2 reasons.

      1)They don’t gain weight, but they don’t loses weight also, maybe they already carries excess weight.

      2) Many people can consume up to 500 gram of nuts and seed , which is much more than 100 gram they consumed from this study.




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        1. That’s one thing he might be wrong about. But then again he is right about a lot of other things. No one is perfect and I will admit McDougal is a little set in his ways. That’s why I like this website.




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          1. I don’t 100% sure he is wrong on that either.
            I have not basing it on science, But my natural intuition tell me that all supplements recommendation for optimal health goes too far, and it simply insane. It’s extremely unnatural.
            (Except from b12)




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            1. I’d encourage you to seek a scientific basis, from the perspective of using some lab testing to see what your body needs. Consider your genetics, epigenetic expressions and environment and you can easily see that each of us is very unique. With that said, without using some testing your guessing at best.

              What’s the worst case result ? You find that your needing some supplementation ? I don’t want this reply to insinuate that you need a handful of supplements, just what makes the body work optimally.

              Dr. Alan Kadish NF Moderator




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      1. Nuts and seed are very high calorie, so if you graze on them all day long you are probably eating more calories than you thought, which may explain some people have difficulty loosing weight. I don’t think there is any reason to give up nuts and seeds. They are very good for your health and great for controlling hunger. I just measure out 2 oz of nuts in the morning and snack on that during the day. When that runs out I don’t eat any more nuts. It works well for me.




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      2. The only way for people like to me be able to eat nuts without gaining weight, (chef AJ is another vocal case in point) is to never get them except as they come in nature, so I expend more calories getting into them than I can eat! :)




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    1. You would have to check the iodine levels in that much wakame. Too much iodine can cause some serious issues. 1100 mcg is the upper limit for iodine, but reportedly the Japanese consume much more then that without any issues. You would want to make sure to consume plenty of selenium if you go really high in iodine.




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    2. I too would prefer to do that, but I just read the article you posted and that’s the dry weight they’re talking about. 42g of dry wakame per day would be way too much seaweed to be eating. I live in Japan and we eat a lot of seaweed but that amount feels to be too much – and more than any Japanese would realistically eat.

      That said, there is good data in Japan to suggest that people who eat the most seaweed live the longest, so maybe they get some extra goodness from the seaweed in their diet. I doubt they would be eating 42g dry weight though.




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        1. Probably. My Japanese husband had a bit of a problem with seaweed though… a few years after we turned vegan he started getting awful symptoms that included panic attacks and overheating. He was really unwell. For ages it was a mystery as to what was causing it. Finally we figured out it was all the seaweed we were eating… must have been wreaking havoc on his thyroid. He cut down and the symptoms went away. That was just around the time of the Fukushima incident, so we often joke that at least we know we were protected! No iodine deficiencies in this household ;)

          We’ve since learnt that if you soak seaweed in water overnight most of the iodine dissolves. We do that now and no more problems.




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  11. I’m a little unclear on something. I’ve seen mentions of DHA/EPA recommendations together and at other times DHA alone. I’ve seen references to getting 250 mg of DHA/EPA together and DHA alone. I’ve seen algae DHA supplements and combination DHA/EPA supplements on the market. Please be specific. Do I need a supplement that contains both DHA and EPA? If I need both, how many mgs of that 250 mgs have to be in the form of DHA and how many mgs have to be in the form of EPA? Or if I need 250 mgs in the form of DHA, how many additional, if any, do I need in the form of EPA?




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    1. Ron and others interested in this topic: The following page contains Dr. Greger’s nutrition recommendations, including for omega 3. http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/ I interpret that to mean to take a supplement with a total of 250 mg omega 3, with any combination of DHA/EPA that you can find.

      While I haven’t see hard evidence of this, people on this forum has written something to the effect that it is easy for our bodies to convert DHA to EPA or vica versa, so it doesn’t matter how much of your supplement contains of each one. Others have disagreed and think it is important to get some of both. I say, get a supplement that has some of both, but don’t worry about the exact amounts of each as I doubt we have any compelling evidence to support an exact ratio recommendation at this point. That’s just my 2 cents, but I feel fairly confident in saying that since if there was such compelling evidence, I think Dr. Greger would have included that detain in his recommendations.

      Does this help?




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    2. Great question and tricky to answer! Since fish contains a mix of both types of the long chain omega 3 fatty acids (DHA + EPA) and to the best of my knowledge, most studies looking at supplements have used both DHA and EPA combined, it is difficult to make specific recommendations for them individually. In the area of cardiovascular disease research the ratio of DHA:EPA has ranged from 2:1 to 1:2. For infant and brain development the research has focused primarily on DHA. So, the optimal supplement may in part depend on the reason a person using the supplement …. is it for overall brain health, cardiovascular health or other reasons? Lots of research going on in this field.
      Hope this helps a bit!




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    1. Do you know how long the meditating was in the study? 10 minutes a day? One hour a day? I hope it’s not so much that one has to give up family and job and live in a monastery ,lol




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  12. How about seaweed? I use this in my mock tuna salad and doesn’t it have some Omega’s that we need? Could it work? Dulse and Sea Lettuce? Any thoughts? Thank you!




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    1. If you read above, there is a comment that calculated it- the intake requirements are pretty huge (15 sheets nori for example) to meet the 250mg DHA/EPA recommended here, and you end up with a whopping great load of iodine well above what is recommended for health.




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      1. Thank you for your reply…. but we are talking about the DHA/EPA which was gotten from eating fish. When a person does eat fish…. it was on a diet of only once a week or perhaps twice a month… Myself, I have never known of a person to eat it every day to get his/her DHA/EPA daily allowance….. so I would error on being cautious and having a medical background also I think it would behoove us to not overdo on this….




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        1. 10 grams of dulse provides 82 miligrams EPA
          and about 1600 micrograms of iodine

          Where are the studies showing people who eat the amount of seaweed that people in Japan for example eat have adverse health effects? Japan is NUMBER ONE in the world for average life expectancy and the Okinawans are, or at least were on their traditional purple sweet potato based diet, an example of Japanese lifestyle including eating habits promoting health into older age even passed 100 years old.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodine#Dietary_intake
          “As of 2000, the median intake of iodine from food in the United States
          was 240 to 300 μg/day for men and 190 to 210 μg/day for women.[78] The general US population has adequate iodine nutrition,[85][86] with women of childbearing age and pregnant women having a possible mild risk of deficiency.[86] In Japan, consumption was considered much higher, ranging between 5,280 μg/day to 13,800 μg/day from dietary seaweed or kombu kelp,[76] often in the form of Kombu Umami
          extracts for soup stock and potato chips. However, new studies suggest
          that Japan’s consumption is closer to 1,000–3,000 μg/day.[87] The tolerable upper intake limit of iodine in Japan is 3,000 µg/day for an adult.”

          1600 micrograms is right within the lower end of the 1000-3000 micrograms range of the average person in Japan.

          One concern with people with a family history or susceptibility to the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is selenium deficieny. Selenium is really critical for thyroid health and also most people prone to Hashimoto’s also have intolerance of dairy and likely have celiac disease whether diagnosed or not.

          Among the best whole food sources of selenium are legumes like beans and lentils, pinto beans and black eyed peas are especially high in selenium. Also Mushrooms like crimini and portabella and shiitake, sunflower seeds and sunflower greens, brown rice, whole wheat, barley, coconuts, oats, and quinoa.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashimoto%27s_thyroiditis#Risk_factors

          “Having another autoimmune diseases is a risk factor to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and the opposite is also true.[1] Autoimmune diseases most commonly associated to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis include celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, vitiligo and alopecia.[14]
          Preventable environmental factors, including high iodine intake, selenium deficiency,
          as well as infectious diseases and certain drugs, have been implicated
          in the development of autoimmune thyroid disease in genetically
          predisposed individuals.[15]
          The genes implicated vary in different ethnic groups and the incidence
          is increased in people with chromosomal disorders, including Turner, Down, and Klinefelter syndromes usually associated with autoantibodies against thyroglobulin and thyroperoxidase.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
          Japan




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          1. “One concern with people with a family history or susceptibility to the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is selenium deficieny. Selenium is really critical for thyroid health and also most people prone to Hashimoto’s also have intolerance of dairy and likely have celiac disease whether diagnosed or not.”
            I have Hashimotos and had 4 large tumors on my thyroid… had a thyroidectomy 6 yrs ago and yes…. for sure…. am very lactose intolerant and….. not celiac at all…. but do suffer from Irritable Bowl Disease…. cruciferous veggies aggravate… and the gluten tends to help and calm down my gas and cramps… the fiber helps also keep me from constipation…. I do make sure that I eat breads made from grains…. But, in my statement you addressed, my point, who eats a diet of fish, fish, fish…… is there appoint that research has been done that too much DHA/EPA is just simply too much….




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        2. I agree…. I don’t think we need to hit everything daily, more an average.. but I would want that average to still be high enough




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    1. No it was just 250mg total of long chain omega 3’s from algae. Most likely it was DHA because most algae supplements are either all DHA or predominantly DHA with a little EPA.




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  13. I have great respect for Dr. Gregor. I have read his books, watched his interviews and lectures on You Tube and have learned a lot from him that I have applied in my life and which, quite frankly, has gotten me into trouble with certain members of my family and ridicule from others. However, because we have to have this discussion is the very reason that I can not become a vegan, but rather consider myself a vegetarian. That is, a 95% or more plant based, non processed, non refined sugar diet. If you adhere to a diet that requires supplementation for you to survive (B12, D, DHA, etc.), it seems logical to me that you should know that you are not eating a healthy diet or one that would even have been sustainable prior to the mega supplement industry. Our bodies are so complex and the food synergies so infinite from a biochemical standpoint that we should strive to eat a diet that provides overall health and survivability on it’s own without supplemental intervention.




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    1. This is purely my opinion, no scientific bases, but I believe we have to supplement because we have destroyed our environment. We can no longer eat fish because they are contaminated. Since we destroyed that food source – and by the way, fish get their EPA/DHA from the algae they eat but again contaminated now. So I find a safer source of the nutrients I need.




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    2. So what you’re saying is that since we live in a sterile environment, hence no B12, that you would opt to kill an animal to get your B12 second hand? Sounds silly to me when you can just take a supplement.




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    3. Paranumre: I think your argument is not including some key information. As I understand it, your argument is that any diet that requires any supplementation is not “natural” (something that can be done without supplemental intervention) and thus not advisable or healthy. The problems are: a) we don’t live in a natural world and b) natural is not always equated to optimal health. For example, it may be natural to get vitamin B12 from dirty water and dirty food, but that’s not what is best for optimal health. That comes with a big risk for disease. As does consuming enough meat to get enough B12.

      Similarly, how much fish would you have to consume each day to get enough DHA and EPA? You don’t believe in supplements, so fish oil is out. That leaves you with consuming fish flesh, which comes with a large number of contaminants in today’s world (how natural is that?) and added problems like animal protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, etc, etc. See: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fish

      Vitamin D, the only other supplement Dr. Greger recommends for some people in some conditions, the issue is about sunlight exposure, not diet.

      I’m not trying to get you to change your diet. I’m just giving you some food for thought concerning your general outlook on what makes a healthy diet.




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    4. Paranumre,

      1) The animals raised to be consumed are given B12 supplements so most of the vitamin B12 that people consume from dead animals or their ovulations or lactations still actually comes from artificial supplementation.

      2) This also applies to omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids which animals raised for consumption, including fish, are artificially supplemented with.

      3) Wild fish and other animals get DHA and EPA from consuming wild algae so again people who consume the animals or products made from them are just getting second hand nutrients which you could get directly via the algae.

      4) You would likely get vitamin B12 from bacteria in drinkable untreated fresh water and small amounts of dirt/ soil on unwashed vegetables but that is only speculative and a gamble and most people don’t live near sources of natural, drinkable, UNTREATED water nor do they eat substantial amounts of soil or faeces so B12 made by bacteria and taken as a supplement is a reasonable option in this extremely altered world in 2016.

      5) DHA is available in quinoa. You can get the same amount of DHA as was given in the supplement in the study cited by Dr. Greger and nutritionfacts (172 miligrams) from 2 cups dry measure of quinoa which if added to double the amount of cooking water/liquid would be about 6 cups COOKED measure of quinoa. This has about 160-180 miligrams of DHA total. If you want to be sure to get it all you should probably avoid draining/wasting extra liquid after cooking the quinoa and you may actually need a bit less than 2 cups water/broth/liquid per cup of dry/uncooked quinoa in order to effectively cook the quinoa.

      6) Seaweeds or sea vegetables, which are also called macroalgae, have plenty of EPA especially dulse which has the highest amount of the tested seaweeds. Wakame, nori, laver and sea lettuce all have enough EPA to at least get the 82 milligrams as in the cited study of people eating “vegan diets”.




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  14. As always, I believe there are several caveats to consider, given our limited knowledge and evidence base. As a plant-based, whole food eater, I agree with Dr. Greger that the cost/benefit ratio of taking algae-derived omega-3s (I usually buy OVega-3 or Deva) justifies the cost/risk. However, in assessing the evidence, I think several things need to be taken into account. Most importantly, although there is more and more research regarding large-scale studies of vegetarians and vegans, we all know that it is quite easy to eat a very unhealthy diet either way, and there are very, very few studies assessing the health benefits and supplementation needs of a true whole-foods, plant-based diet, without processed foods, added sugars and fats. In the main study justifying algae-derived omega-3s (from Dr. Sarter, et al) it is hard to tell how many of the vegans were adhering to a whole-foods, plants based diet or rather eating the more typical vegan diet including heavily processed foods, added sugars and fats. I believe that reducing one’s intake of omega-6 fatty acids is just as important as increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake, and there are many videos here to help you do that. It is certainly plausible that those eating a true whole-foods, plant-based diet which would be low in omega-6 intake, supplemented with healthy sources of ALA, may have adequate levels of omega-3s in their bloodstream and brain. We just don’t know yet.

    A few other things to notice about this study: 1) Who funded it: the Nutritional Research Foundation (https://www.nutritionalresearch.org/), a non-profit organization ‘that supports, encourages, and promotes clinical research to evaluate the impact of a high nutrient dense diet and related nutritional interventions on chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune illnesses’ whose Director of Research is Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and has Dr. Greger on its Scientific and Research Board. 2) What supplement did they use: Dr. Fuhrman supplied the Omega-3 supplements that were obtained from Life’sDHA, a trademark of DSM, a large Dutch nutrition company. It was a liquid preparation containing 172 mg DHA and 82 mg EPA per 0.75 mL, which unfortunately, does not seem to be commercially available (http://www.lifesdha.com/en_US/life-sdha-store.html). However, a formulation very similar to that described in the study, is available from Dr. Fuhrman’s website (https://www.drfuhrman.com/shop/products/52/dhaepa-purity) although there is no way to really know if it would work as well as the other preparation. 3) The senior author of the study is the President of OmegaQuant Analytics, LLC, which provided the fatty acid analyses for this study, so that he has a conflict of interest, which was declared.
    If you do decide to follow this recommendation, I suggest buying a high quality supplement (not the cheapest you can find) directly from the company if possible to try to ensure freshness and to keep it refrigerated.




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    1. Dr. John: I really appreciate your comments. Like you, I also wish the study included people who eat a whole plant food diet, including flax or chia seed consumption. Maybe that type of diet would work just as well as direct DHA/EPA supplementation.

      After watching this video, I would say: The bottom line was that people need to be over that 4.4 threshold, not that DHA supplementation was necessary in call cases. 1/3 of vegans are already over that threshold and we don’t know the conditions which put someone in the 1/3 category or the 2/3 category. If someone does not want to get tested, then I would say that the safe thing to do would be to supplement. But if someone gets tested without supplementing and they meet the 4.4 threshold, then supplementing would not be necessary. And if their levels are low, they could try getting more ALA first to see if that fits. (Assuming they are not already say consuming flax or chia seed.) And if that does not work, then supplementing with algae-based DHA/EPA would make a lot of sense.

      Of course, Dr. Greger understandably likes to keep recommendations as simple as possible. And as near as I can tell, we are not aware of any drawbacks to taking an algae-based DHA/EPA supplement. So, I understand why Dr. Greger’s recommendation is a flat : consider taking an DHA/EPA supplement. But I like my approach (as listed in the above paragraph) better. ;-)




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      1. So I think in the end it is better to take a test to find out how our levels go. If they are low because diet with little fish or diet with no fish or just old age … take a supplement.




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        1. Simone: I agree with you. If it is possible to take the test, then you will know for sure if you need an algae-based DHA/EPA supplement or not. But keep in mind, I’m not an expert. This is just a lay person’s opinion after watching this latest series on NutritionFacts.




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          1. Thanks for the answer!
            The subject, of course, still has no definitive conclusion. Even, I believe, Dr. Greger’s recommendation is preventive and based on his reading of the studies available so far.
            I will talk about with my nutricionist and hear his opinion too. He has accompanied his vegetarian patients for decades, before take a decision.




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    2. Your brain health seems to be doing well. I have a Q about Ovega-3; Are you not worried about taking ingredients like; carrageenan and beta carotene every day from your capsules ?




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      1. I hope he responds but here’s what I would guess he would say. The dose makes the poison. Sure, in high amounts, those additives can be toxic, but in very low amounts as are found in the pills, they are harmless. Dietary purism can become a bad habit and lead to unhealthy stress. The stress from trying to be pure is probably far more damaging then any tiny amount of carregeenan or beta carotine.




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    3. Dr. John, I didn’t see your comment when I also posted several days ago about my concern with the preparation and the fact that it was provided by Dr. Fuhrman, who obviously has a direct interest in the study given his algae pill pushing racke… err… business. I didn’t catch the other potential conflicts of interest, nor Dr. Greger’s indirect involvement with the research.

      Perhaps you’d be so kind as to clarify three key questions:

      1. Are the algae oil DHA supplements any more effective than the fish oil DHA supplements? I can’t find any research suggesting as much, and only one that showed them to be equally effective.

      2. Is there any real risk to taking the fish oil DHA supplements in terms of toxicity? I couldn’t find any research, food inspection agency reports or any other credible sources confirming as much, and Dr. Greger simply insinuates/speculates that the fish oil supplements may pose toxicity risk based on the fact regular whole fish consumption does.

      3. Can increasing consumption of ALA-rich foods, in combination with limiting Omega 6 intake, offset the low conversion rate to DHA, or does consumption beyond a certain point have no effect? Again, I couldn’t find any studies on this.




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  15. Why is is taking so long for this video? How many vegans have not taken DHA + EPA supplementation because it was told at one time that they don’t need it? Once one’s brain shrink then it shrinks forever.

    What happens if 10 years from now, Dr Greger will say that new studies say that DHA + EPA is needed for heart and vision health?

    DHA + EPA = 250 mg combined per day with more emphasis on DHA. Let say 180mg DHA + 70 mg EPA.




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    1. Freestyle1: As I have explained multiple times, Dr. Greger and this site has unfailingly recommended DHA/EPA supplementation without a break in time.

      If 10 years from now, the current body of evidence is reversed and we find out that DHA+EPA is needed for heart and vision health, then people following Dr. Greger’s current recommendations for brain health would be golden.




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      1. What happens if the dosage required for heart health is much higher than for brain health?

        http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/dosing/hrb-20059372

        To treat stiff arteries, doses of one-gram capsules containing EPA plus DHA or 360-1800 milligrams of DHA plus 120-1,800 milligrams of EPA have been taken by mouth daily for 6-12 weeks. A dose of 1,800 milligrams of EPA has been taken by mouth daily for 6-12 weeks.




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        1. Freestyle1: What happens if…? You can play “what if” games forever. All Dr. Greger can do is report on what the science is telling us now. Based on your many posts these last few days, you clearly find other sources of information to be more compelling than the information provided on this site. So, go with what other sources say. It’s your choice.




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        2. the mayo clinic is a terrible source for up to date nutritional science. it is very clear from the latest science that DHA/EPA does not benefit the heart




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  16. I cannot take the capsule supplement because it contains oil. I need a whole food source. I have eliminated every drop of oil from my diet to try and get my cholesterol numbers down. I am a cardiac patient and am trying to follow Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn’s program to get my numbers to a safe level. Taking a supplement that contains oil every single day, no matter how small, is problematic for me. I can’t find any tablets of algae other than blue something or other that is apparently quite unsafe. Any ideas?




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    1. Brenda: I commend you for doing everything in your power to stick to Esselstyn’s diet to heal yourself. I have have heard that Dr. Esselstyn will sometimes answer people’s questions directly. I recommend asking him if this particular oil source, medicinal and containing only omega 3s, would be a problem in his opinion. Esselstyn recommends no oils because of their impact on the endothelial cells (the lining of our blood vessels). But my understanding is that only traditional oils have been studied, ie olive oil, etc. It’s my guess that a special oil like this, especially in such small amounts, would not affect the endothelial cells.

      If you try this and get from him, please report back. I’d be very interested in his opinion.




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    2. .

      Hi Brenda,

      I had a recent consultation with
      cardiologist Robert Ostfeld, MD, who runs the Montefiore, Einstein
      Cardiac wellness program in the Bronx.. He and dietician Lauren Graf
      have had had tremendous results treating cardiac patients with a plant
      based, whole food diet, modeled after Dr. Caldwell b Esselstyn’s plant
      based program. This is from his Dr. Ostfeld’s program:

      “Vegan Omega 3 (DHA ad EPA from algae): While plant based diets can
      provide omega-3 fatty acids aplenty in the form of alapha- linolenic
      acid (ALA), this not the active form that the body utilizes. The body
      must first convert the ALA into the biologically active forms of omega-3
      fats eicosapentaenic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). How
      efficiently each person is able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA varies
      based on a number of actors including age, sex and the amount of other
      fats in the diet. Women and younger adults tend to convert more
      efficiently and are of lower risk for an omega 3 fatty acid deficiency.
      Older men are at a higher risk for poor conversion and absorption of
      omega 3 fats. To prevent deficiency we recommend that you take a vegan
      DHA/EPA supplement derived from clear water algae. DHA and EPA are found
      in fish oil as well but these supplement may contain dangerous
      environmental pollutants such as PCB (s) or dioxins that accumulate in
      the fatty portion of fish. Since the algae are grown under clean,
      controlled conditions, you don’t run the risk of harmful
      contamination…..Look for a supplement with at least 200 mg of DHA.
      Below are some brands that we recommend:

      Opti 3 Omega, Nature Made 100%% Veterinarian Omega, Nordic Natural Algae Omega and Martek..

      Important
      note: Being an older male I asked Dr. Ostfeld, as I am particularly
      concerned that the two tablespoons of ground flax, which I include in my
      morning oatmeal, contained ALA which may not not be converted into the
      biologically available omega-3 EPA and DHA. He said I could increase
      the conversion of flax based

      ALA to EPA and DHA by
      including Turmeric and black pepper, which I now add to my morning
      oatmeal. Surprisingly, the oatmeal taste is hardly effected and
      apparently I am not getting the benefit.

      I would love
      to hear the comments of others who are attempting to convert ALA to
      EPA/DHA without taking a supplement. However if I still need a vegan
      algae based DHA?EPA supplement please let me know.




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      1. Thank you! Ken – I only just this week started listening to Dr. Ostfeld – no idea how I missed him in the past. I so appreciate your response. I actually have already been eating ground flax seed in my steel cut oats each morning – thanks to Dr. Greger – as well as both fresh turmeric with black pepper every morning – per Dr. Greger – and I make curry brown rice to get the turmeric in cooked form as well. But not for breakfast :)




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        1. Wow, you are really eating good. Being a women, you probably don’t need an algae supplement with your excellent diet. Just my opinion. Being an older man I feel like taking it for insurance.




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          1. I am going to take it for a little while till my next doctor’s appointment in a few months. I have been following Dr. Greger for a few years now so I am adjusting my eating habits to line up with the science. I actually got to meet him last month – very excited.




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  17. Dr. Greger – if we supplement with algae derived EPA & DHA is it unnecessary to consume plant forms of Omega 3 such as Chia Seeds, Flax or Walnuts? Thanks for your beautiful, humor-filled videos. The information goes in much better accompanied by a hearty laugh!




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    1. It’s been known for some time that we need the a-linolenic acid in flax, chia, walnuts, etc, so don’t cut back. Even if you can down-alter DHA to ALA, you won’t get enough.
      Whether a ‘proper’ WFPB diet alone *can* supply enough DHA remains unknown. You’ll notice that in the table of vegans’ content of DHA+EPA, a percentage had 8+, way more than that 4.4 figure.
      Maybe they were examined further to see what they ate, but we don’t know yet.




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    1. EllenB: I don’t have an answer to your exact question, but I thought you might want to know that you can get algae-based supplement as drops instead of pill form. I hate swallowing pills too. :-)




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    2. If you already have a bunch of the supplement in pill form, you can always just cut them open and mix the contents into what ever food your are eating. The same for the liquid form that @disqus_EXJURIXKLQ:disqus recommends as well. It shouldn’t matter if the food is hot or cold since if heat degraded DHA or EPA, then cooking fish would eliminate the sole reason (tiny pun intended) for eating it. But I would probably still mix it with cold food like a smoothie just in an abundance of caution.




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    1. That certainly was what the video indicated. If that amount of preformed DHA and/or EPA is not sufficient, your body will still convert some of the ALA. I look at this as insurance as I get older and the amount of the conversion enzyme decreases.




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      1. Thank you. I wasn’t sure about ratios. But its looked like with one tablet I’m covered. I take some ground flax seed as well. According to Colin T Campbell it is too much omega 6 that stops the conversion process from working properly. So he recommends adding no oil to the diet other than what you get out of food.




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  18. Is the omega 3:6 ratio no longer relevant in the context of this discussion? One of the key arguments against supplementing with O3s is that if you don’t eat O6-filled oils you shouldn’t need to supplement your O3s because it’s the ratio that counts, not the overall intake. I’m trying to understand how that gels with this research… does a low O6 diet help us here or not?

    And like others, I’d love to know whether ALAs get us anywhere here – I wonder if the vegans in the control group in their study were already eating flax, chia, etc.? Dr G does make a point to say he recommends preformed DHA, but I’m not sure he explains the basis of that conclusion.. or did I miss something?




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    1. The whole food is always a better choice than the extracted oil. Both flax and hemp seeds have much more going for them health wise than just the oil.




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  19. I just ordered my Ovega 3…. Question… if we use to eat fish with the long chain omega 3 in it maybe once a week …. Do we have to take this supplement for DHA/EPA daily? Would not once a week suffice? How often is this to be taken? The flax seed I take 2 to 3 times a week on oatmeal… (FYI: I researched the dulse and sea lettuce that I use and no omega’s at all… good source of protein and iodine though , oh and fiber..)




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    1. Sunny dulse Palamaria palmata should definitely have EPA in fact in this study it had the most EPA of any seaweed/seavegetable tested:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131239/

      Here is the table comparing the EFA’s (EPA is down at 20:5n-3) of different seaweeds sea Lettuce (Ulva Lactuca being relatively low and Dulse being quite high next to wakame (Undaria pinnatifida):
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131239/table/T1/

      also Quinoa is shown to have DHA I linked more relevant info in my reply to Thea’s reply to Ariana below as well as to Plant This Thought’s question above. I hope this helps!




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      1. Thank you for sharing this information with me! Great to know this! It does say that black and red are much higher than the green algaes…. I started using it to get my sea flavor in my mock tuna salad. I then started putting it on my salads and in soups…. Love Quinoa! I did not know that it had DHA either!




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  20. I have a very sound question and would really appreciate if an expert answers it:

    In all human history, most mothers did not access to fish and of course flax & chia seeds etc. and by some miracle they were able to convert 1mg (averaging) ALA to DHA such that their babies have developed A BRAIN from scratch without problem (and in some cases lots of babies and lots of brains)! How is that you say the conversion is not enough? Seems nonsense to me.

    Corporate financed studies are not enough to change this fact. Now, they say we need to take the pill.

    I have a counter argument for this presumably brain shrinkage as we age: People clog their arteries with crappy diet and their brain can’t get enough oxygen & glucose, and hinder DHA production which occurs naturally in our body. Maybe that’s why they lose their brains! Just show me an evidence that a person who eats WFPB may benefit from DHA supplementation. I would rather buy and eat walnuts instead of investing tons in pills.




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    1. You are just about right! Also, there are “vegans” and vegans – long ago the vegan diet use be raw food as nature intended for all of us. In quoted study in the video i doubt that there were real vegans(talking about diet not whole vegan concept).




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      1. Raw food myths are abundant but not supported by the evidence. Cooking allowed human brains to grow by supplying a more dense supply of calories from tubers mostly. See Harvard doctor Richard Wrangham’s book “How Cooking made us Human.”




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        1. After watching, reading most of the WFPB topics from variety of experts, it’s apparent that as long as we don’t harm our body by eating clean it can take care of itself. Calorie restriction prolongs lifespan as eating less causes less harm and less oxidative stress to the body. So, just eat less and eat clean (harmless) and enjoy life.




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        2. No wonder – this way of thinking lacks history education(no offense) about the cultures in which cooking food was not a part their daily life – and looking at their lifespan we see that almost all members live a healthy live till 100+ years. Also, i’m talking about ancient times – like Essene people in Palestine, the “nacked” wise people of Ethiopia, Therapeutae people of Egypt and etc..




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          1. All large successfully populations cooked at least some of their food. There are no all-raw civilizations … obviously eating raw food is healthy, but eating cooked food is also healthy and was a big part of human evolution. A healthy diet should include both raw and cooked food.




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          2. Could you please supply a reference for the statement:
            “that almost all members live a healthy live till 100+ years. Also, i’m talking about ancient times – like Essene people in Palestine, the “nacked” wise people of Ethiopia, Therapeutae people of Egypt and etc..”




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    2. Burak: I’m not an expert but here’s an answer to consider. In all human history, mothers and others did have access to bone marrow, which contains many nutrients, including DHA. Moreover, archeological evidence supports the hypothesis that stone tools were used to crack bones open. There’s also DHA in liver, which was also available. In short, some nutrients accumulate in certain animal tissues. These could and no doubt would have been eaten whenever possible. There’s no reason to suppose marrow and liver, and brains, for that matter, were not eaten. Whether we choose to eat them today is another question entirely, but it would be a mistake to think that long-chained n-3 fats were simply available except where there was fish.




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      1. OK, let’s assume we have bone and meat eaters covered. How about people even today who eats almost exclusively plant based. I’m sure we have a case where a woman who lives in a villages and doesn’t access to any animal products and gives birth to lots of babies in her lifespan. Somehow her body is efficient to convert 1 g of ALA to DHA that is enough for her babies and herself though years. Thousands of years and I don’t think our genes gambled with preformed DHA availability. It’s just easier to produce in the body. What’s the obstacle? When it comes to create brain from scratch it can produce enough, when it comes to ourselves it cannot. It’s a bit bogus to me.




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        1. Burak: I don’t agree with some of your assumptions. You’re sure we have cases of women without any access to animal products. I find this hard to imagine. Human beings have ALWAYS eaten animal foods in some amount. Apart from tiny outlier groups that practice veganism for religious reasons, the human race in all places and at all times has eaten animal foods. Animal tissues such as liver, brains, and marrow have always been available, so there was really no gamble. It’s quite possible that pregnant and breast-feeding women need more DHA than what can readily be produced from dietary ALA.

          I’m inclined to assume that since it’s a fact that human beings have always eaten animal foods, there’s probably a good reason for doing so, even in very small amounts. That is, I’m not prepared to assume that animal food consumption has always been superfluous. I think it’s at least a reasonable hypothesis that one reason for the inclusion of animal foods, especially organ meats and marrow, is to get long-chain n-3 fats. B12 is another very reasonable hypothesis. Vitamin D is another, especially as the human race dispersed away from the equator.

          I understand that there are reasons to choose non-animal sources for these things today. Those reasons, however, are not good reasons for conclusions about ancestral diets.




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      2. The rate of ALA -> DHA is higher in women, but especially for women of reproductive age, so you can’t look at the upconversion efficiency for the population as a whole and say that humans needed animal sources of DHA/EPA.

        A 2012 Swedish study of genetics shows that modern humans have changes in the genes responsible for producing the enzyme that lengthens both ALA and LA that increase the amount of DHA/EPA as well as AA that we can make from the short chain versions found in plants. This would indicate that during human evolution there was strong evolutionary pressure to take better advantage of the ALA and LA that they were getting in substantial quantities from a diet high in leafy greens. This does not mean that humans didn’t get preformed long-chain PUFA, just that there were genetic changes in humans due to the strong pressure to use the short-chain PUFA they could get from plants.




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        1. Plus they know from studying bones that humans were getting over 2000 mg of calcium a day. That’s a lot of greens. Plus some wild greens have EPA like purslane. Quinoa has DHA I just learned.




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            1. David J actually 0.03 grams equal to 30 miligrams is NOT insignificant. In one of the studies cited by Dr. Gregor the “vegans’ were suplemented with 170 milligrams DHA and 82 milligrams EPA. I guarantee that people who cut out animals products and junk food like white bread, white rice and dry “breakfast cereals” like corn flakes can find ways to incorporate quinoa into a variety of savory and sweet recipes and get enough DHA from quinoa which is the only whole food plant based source of which I’m aware. That’s also 3/4 COOKED cup of quinoa meaning the concentration of all nutrients including fats like DHA are watered down by… water which is what quinoa is usually cooked in.

              Essentially to get the amount in the suplement given in the study, one would have to eat about 2 cups dry measure of quinoa per day which would be about 6 cups COOKED i.e. with 4 cups water/broth/liquid and heat added. For an adult that would just mean making quinoa the main component of one of her or his main meals or they could have quinoa in smaller amounts at various meals. Dulse, wakame, nori, laver and sea lettuce all have PLENTY of EPA as well. Purslane has suppoedly trace amounts of EPA so if you ate a lot it could add some. Purslane is eaten much more in countries outside USA where it is mostly seen as a “weed”.

              Be careful trying to harvest and eat wild purslane unless you are 100% sure that it is not a poisonous look alike which often even grows right next to purslane (Portulaca oleracea).




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              1. You’re right – I should not have said “insignificant”. Thanks for the correction.

                But as a practical matter, I would not want to have to eat ~6 cups of quinoa a day every day to get ~170 mg DHA. But of course, that’s a personal matter.




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          1. Nc54, You’re partially correct regarding the wild greens content. The key is that there is no EPA present but rather the linoleic acid is present. (http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/purslane.html) This is important as the difference is significant from the point of view that to make EPA and DHA from the purslane linolenic acid takes multiple conversions chemically that are not easy and many people have a lack of efficiency with this process, hence the suggestion of taking preformed DHA and EPA, especially if you’re pregnant. Dr. Alan Kadish NF Moderator




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        2. Jim,

          You hit the nail on the head. The desaturation enzymes function has some interesting findings that I think are salient to your contention. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26474818) This study addresses maternal use of fish in the diet and suggests with that with preformed DHA/EPA input you can have a better lipid profile. I’d then draw your attention to the changes in desaturation enzyme activity in obese individuals, with a suggestion of correlation with this disorder. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25828602) From another view, how about how the found enzyme expressions lead to arteriosclerosis an up trending disorder, also associated with other nutrient and lifestyle issues ? (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17466497) I’d encourage you to talk with clinicians or laboratory services who regularly do lipid testing and fractionation to experience their typical findings. My has been that even with excellent high plant ratio diets deficiencies are commonly present. Is this a genetic pressure change or epigenetic or a defect in utilization of vitamins/minerals need or a combination ? I’m opting for combination as when good comprehensive testing is done multiple issues are seen regularly.

          Dr. Alan Kadish NF Moderator




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    3. I heard about a study that showed Indian vegetarian populations are more efficient at converting DHA, then the body adjusts when there is no abundant external sources … but still it does not prove that we can not have some benefit by taking supplements, for example, when age and body becomes less efficient in the conversion. I think that’s the point of Dr. Greger. All will have a shrinkage of the brain, but it can be slower if we have higher levels of DHA.




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      1. On a positive note, significant decline in cognitive **function** is now though not to be inevitable. Cf. e.g. this quote from:

        https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/part-1-basics-healthy-brain/changing-brain-healthy-aging

        “What effects does aging have on mental function in healthy older people? Some people may notice a modest decline in their ability to learn new things and retrieve information, such as remembering names. They may perform worse on complex tasks of attention, learning, and memory than would a younger person. However, if given enough time to perform the task, the scores of healthy people in their 70s and 80s are often similar to those of young adults. In fact, as they age, adults often improve in other cognitive areas, such as vocabulary and other forms of verbal knowledge.

        It also appears that additional brain regions can be activated in older adults during cognitive tasks, such as taking a memory test. Researchers do not fully understand why this happens, but one idea is that the brain engages mechanisms to compensate for difficulties that certain regions may be having. For example, the brain may recruit alternate brain networks in order to perform a task. These findings have led many scientists to believe that major declines in mental abilities are not inevitable as people age. ”

        My belief is that major declines are often lifestyle-related. Well, I’m soon going to be 70 so that’s what I’d like to believe!




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        1. I agree and like to think like you, in fact I see that elderly people who remain intellectually active are very different from those that don’t do it.
          I am 33 years old. I think we are afraid of growing old and losing our mental abilities and that any sign of science in this field, even if not conclusive seems to have enough power. But really, it is to think about the need for supplements.




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        2. David J: This was a really helpful post and starts to get at a point that I consider key. One of the things I’ve been struggling with since this video came out is a concept I first learned when I read a book called: A Tao Full of Detours – The Behavior of the Domestic Ferret by Fara M. Shimbo. It’s been decades since I read the book, so I may get some details wrong. The gist of the concept is that brain size by itself is not an indication of how smart a person is. Some non-human animals, like whales? (or something) have brains that are much bigger than humans. But as near as we can tell, humans are smarter than whales. (Though that may depend on how you define smarter.) On the other hand, the complexity of the tiny ferret brain may make ferrets at least as smart as dogs.
          .
          Or consider the example from this very video: “The size of our brain actually shrinks as we get older, starting around age 20. Between ages 16 and 80, our brain loses about 1% of its volume every two to three years, such that by the time we’re in our 70s, our brain has lost 26% of its size, and ends up smaller than that of two- to three-year old children.” I can’t imagine anyone suggesting that most say 9 year olds are smarter than your average 70 year old. Obviously brain size is not all that matters.
          .
          This video talks about brain function as well as size. But a lot of emphasis is placed on brain size, something that seems sort of irrelevant to me. I’m not 100% sure where I’m going with this other than I feel like something is missing from the logic of all this. I just can’t put my finger on it right now. Your post, talking about what measures are known to preserve brain function seems particularly important to me. Thank you for your post.




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        3. Hi David – my area of profession and interest (besides nutrition!) is Neuroscience. I’ve spent years in neurorehabilitation and follow the field. I thought I’d share some info with you since, at 63, I also want to protect my brain as I age. After an extensive interview of a Neurologist (name escapes me at the moment) I listened to, the question was asked: “What is the one thing I can do that will help me keep my mental faculties?” Answer: Exercise, minimum 20 mins/day. From my own research and education over the years, . . we know that the brain can continue to make neurons when stimulated to do so. When one exercises little ‘buds’ of neurons begin to grow. IF external stimulation occurs (like trying to learn a language for example) the bud will begin to grow into a neuron and the neuronal density in the brain increases. So exercise and new learning are one way to keep our brains working well.
          There is very new research, published this summer (2016) about the ACTIVE program. This is the result of a 10 year study showing that Alzheimers was reduced by 48% in individuals who used this program. It is a visual speed of processing program that one can access and use on the web. I’m sorry I don’t have the link to the actual free program, but here is an article about the research in the Washington Post:
          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/27/could-this-computer-game-delay-alzheimers-symptoms-new-study-suggests-it-could/
          Lesley Ross, Ph.D. is one of the researchers. Here is her link:
          http://hhd.psu.edu/hdfs/directory/Bio.aspx?id=LesleyRoss
          I know the program is out there for individuals to use – I just don’t have it handy, sorry.

          Albert Einstein’s brain was weighed and measured after he passed away. There was no apparent link to size or weight and intelligence that researchers have found. So I would not, personally, let the shrinking brain issue worry one too much although a correlation to shrinking brain and dementia is noted. It could be the interconnections within the brain that are the most important no matter what the size and weight. We just don’t know.

          So, for me, my plan to take care of my brain as I age is to exercises daily, try to learn something new immediately after exercising to stimulate any new neuronal growth as well as maintain what is there, eat a WFPB diet, and supplement with DHA.
          I agree with you – much cognitive decline is lifestyle related and there are definitely things we can do to keep our noggins healthy.
          All the best to you.




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          1. Rachel: Awesome post! Thanks for taking the time to write all that out. I’m glad you posted after so many other people joined the thread so that they will be seeing your post also.




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    4. Premenopausal women convert about 9% of ingested ALA to DHA, precisely to ensure enough is available for fetal and infant brain development. Conversion is below detection limits in young men, and probably in older members of both sexes.

      In male-to-female transexuals on estrogen, conversion to DHA increases markedly, so it appears omega-3 elongation is under control of estrogen.




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  21. Thank you for this highly informativeand useful video. I consider myself an “Intuitive Vegan”. I’ve been taking an algae-sourced EPA-DHA supplement for years… it just kinda felt like it made sense.




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  22. Is there any concern for bleeding with DHA supplementation? I feel like my vegan blood isn’t sludgy to begin with so will this be overkill?




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        1. I get popped blood vessels in the eyes, very concerning. Also get real tired, as if the vegan DHA are suppressing the immune system somehow. All of it is noticeable and of concern, warranting not supplementing for now. I have read of concerns that DHA oils can over-thin blood and actually cause strokes and other issues, the opposite of what they often do to protect. Maybe some people do not process supplements well. Think about it, humans have gotten DHA?EPA without supplements for how long? Pretty much forever.




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  23. Reading these comments there seems to be a good deal of confusion:
    Dr G is saying – safe to use non marine. take 250mcg/day.
    the data Dr G is talking about here shows that in people who aren’t following a wfpb diet without fish included that DHA supplementation is helpful.
    The comments made by plant_this_thought are to the point, and I was reading some stuff on this yesterday here:
    Domenichiello, Anthony F., Alex P. Kitson, and Richard P. Bazinet, ‘Is Docosahexaenoic Acid Synthesis from Α-Linolenic Acid Sufficient to Supply the Adult Brain?’, Progress in Lipid Research, 59 (2015), 54–66

    This appears to argue that we have yet to do exactly the kind of study you mention as it appears that we may be underestimating the amount of DHA produced in the BRAIN itself – this is certainly the case in rats and it sounds like we may learn more about whether we humans can also accomplish this.

    what is also clear from my reading this hot of the press review is that there is an awful lot we don’t yet know about human ALA-EPA-DHA conversion!
    Baker, Ella J., Elizabeth A. Miles, Graham C. Burdge, Parveen Yaqoob, and Philip C. Calder, ‘Metabolism and Functional Effects of Plant-Derived Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Humans’, Progress in Lipid Research, 64 (2016), 30–56

    Nevertheless, in the meantime, as Dr G points out this Randomised Controlled Trial data means that we have a good reason to use a non-marine supplement to protect the brain in older age.

    The data in science takes a long time to come through sometimes, and in the meantime we have to make the best sense we can of what we have. Thank goodness for Dr Greger!




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    1. Dumping more DHA into the bloodstream will not help if the problem is at the brain neuronal level. If the neurons for some reason are not eating from the buffet, putting more food on the buffet will not help. I’m not saying this is the case, but the point is we don’t know. Meanwhile, we should err on the side of caution and supplement, as you say.

      Humans routinely living into their 80s is a new phenomenon, and we are finding our way through uncharted territory. We have access to so much more information than our ancestors and have the ability to fine-tune our diets in unprecedented ways. Exciting times!




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    2. I wonder if any brain surgery ever involves removal of small amounts of brain matter. If it did, this might afford an opportunity to directly measure the difference in plasma versus neuronal DHA levels to see what the ratios are and are the ratios constant between individuals. And if there was any lead time before surgery stable isotope tagged ALA (C-13 or H-2 or both) could be administered to see how much ALA wound up in the brain, how much was converted to DHA or EPA versus how much stayed in the blood. This would sort of like the test to see how much sulphorfane actually made it into breast tissue for a set amount ingested that used tissue removed during breast reduction surgery to directly measure tissue concentrations.




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  24. He said that all the previous studies showed no benefits from supplementation (around 2:45 in the video). Why? Now this new study shows a benefit. Who were funding all these studies with conflicting results? I’d be interested to hear what Dr. McDougall says about this.




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  25. Are the supplements that one should be taking all on one location??… First, I thought vegans just needed to take B12, then I find out they could be taking Vitamin D, and I thought it was not advised to take Omega-3s and now they should be taking EPA and DHA…. I can’t keep up. Is this all in the book?




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      1. Thea, you are right, that link isn’t easy to find, I’ve searched to share it with others and couldn’t find it, so thanks! Might be helpful to suggest making it a more easily found link, I’m sure others would appreciate it! (“Optimum Nutrition Recommendations”? Hint hint :)




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        1. Vege-tater: That suggestion has been made a couple times before (including by yours truly). Maybe it will gain traction in the future.
          .
          For now, here is my tip: I always remember that the page includes a suggestion for eating brazil nuts. So, I do a search on “brazil” and then tell the advanced search panel on the right to only show “posts”. If you can remember those 2 tricks, it makes it “easy” to find.




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  26. Is there any other healthy way Not to die from
    iodine deficiency than eating disgusting seaweed or taking supplements?
    This is completely illogical, It is unnatural,
    Most of our ancestors not ate seaweed for lunch, They didn’t supplement iodine also.
    I mean, must be a better way…




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  27. I have been vegan all my life and have been on a high raw 100% organic vegan diet for the last few years. I am currently pregnant and have been making certain that I consume raw/organic hemp, chia and flax everyday. I thought I the Omega 6/3 ratio would be in check this way. Would you say this is suitable to maintain proper DHA levels, or would you still recommend algae? My concern with algae are heavy metal contaminants and radiation.




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    1. Ariana: My understanding is that all algae supplements are made in sterile factory conditions. There is no contaminant issue as far as I know.

      Your diet may be just fine, but I think that the only way to know would be to test your levels. If you don’t want to test, then maybe supplementing would be the safer route. I’m not sure what differences the recommendations would be for someone who is pregnant though.




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      1. Thea I trust you to get this information I just discovered out to those who can benefit:

        1 Cup (170g) uncooked Quinoa contains 79.9mg DHA (22:6 n-3)

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5705/2
        (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” DHA is listed under polyunsaturated as “22:6 n3”
        also
        Dulse, Wakame, Laver and Sea Lettuce (seaweeds/sea vegetables) contain substantial amounts of EPA. (20:5 n-3)
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131239/

        Dulse can have 3 times more EPA than Wakame which can have about twice as much as Laver.
        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2618/2

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2766/2

        (scroll down to “Fats and Fatty Acids” annd click “More Details” EPA is listed under polyunsaturated as “20:5 n3”
        http://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(14)00076-4/fulltext
        In
        Phase 2 the study they only gave the participants 172mg DHA (equivalent
        to approx. 2 dry cups worth of quinoa) and 82mg EPA (equivalent to
        approx 40g raw ie WET wakame and dry likely has much more EPA) which
        raised US Vegans Blood EPA+DHA an average of 1.7% from 3.5% to 5.2%.




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        1. Plant Food Source of DHA: That’s really fascinating information! It was very nice of you to give instructions/explain to people how to find this information.

          It’s a shame that NutritionData.Self did not have the omega 3 fat details for cooked quinoa. Hopefully it is a heat-stable fat?




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          1. Sure thank you for replying and here you go.:
            https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6587?fgcd=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=50&sort=default&qlookup=quinoa&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=
            and
            http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142#nutritionalprofile
            To be extra sure to get all the relevant fats people may want to retain any and all excess liquids from cooking i.e. not drain the cooked quinoa like people do with pasta.




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            1. Plant Food Source of DHA: You rock! Thanks for the additional links.
              .
              On the sad side, it appears that the fats are not so heat stable? If I’m reading it right, 1 cup of cooked quinoa is 28 mcg DHA and no EPA. I might eat one or at most two cups of quinoa in a day, and certainly not every day.
              .
              My summary would be: quinoa has more more than zero DHA (yeah!), but not enough to count on in terms of meeting a significant portion of our daily needs. Quinoa might be part of a solution, but not the whole solution or even half of the solution (if consuming pre-formed DHA/EPA is necessary over consuming ALA for a whole plant food based eater).
              .
              Do you think I’m reading that right?




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