It will be necessary to include other omega-3 rich foods in your diet, such as algae, eggs and omega-3 enriched beverages. Certain oils and even certain nuts and grains (listed below) can also help meet omega-3 needs.
Omega-3 is called an “essential” fatty acid because the body needs it to function but it is unable to make it itself. Additionally, pregnant women have increased needs in omega-3 to ensure proper development of the brain and nervous system of the fetus.
The main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They play an important role in the functioning of the nervous system and in eye health. ALA can convert into EPA, but only in limited amounts.
In the case of a vegetarian or vegan diet, nutritional intake is often rich in omega-6 but poor in omega-3. This imbalance reduces the conversion of ALA into EPA. To better balance these different types of fats in the diet, it is advisable to increase the quantity of omega-3 consumed and decrease the quantity of omega-6 consumed. DHA and EPA are particularly important; for more information, please read the following article.
The following table illustrates the different types of omega-3 fatty acids and the foods that contain them in good quantity.
|Omega-3 (DHA/EPA)||Omega-3 (ALA)||Omega-6|
|Fish||Seed and linseed oil||Safflower oil|
|Seafood||Canola oil||Sunflower oil|
|Algae||Walnuts||Grape seed oil|
|Omega-3enriched eggs||Chia seeds|
Unlike other plants, algae are rich in DHA and thus an interesting option for vegetarians. Commercial microalgae supplements are also available in the market; they can help fulfill the higher omega-3 requirements of pregnant and nursing women.
Are you wondering whether or not you should take an omega-3 supplement? Click here (English version will follow).