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 Yamas & Niyamas - Restraints & Observances
 Vegetarians/Vegans - Lack of Omega 3 EPA / DHA
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Domos

30 Posts

Posted - Dec 15 2016 :  12:36:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
Hi all.

First of all let me say that this body of mine eats a vegetarian + eggs + cheese diet.
I stopped eating fish a bit more than 4 months ago, not an intelectual choice of mine, but just by intuitively listening to this body. Long story short, my body told me it's time to stop eating fish. Fish smell gives me nausea these days. Plus, even thinking about eating dead animals just makes me sick now (and I won't even get started on the Ahimsa thing..).


Anyway, I was under the impression that I could get the necessary essential fatty acids (Omega 3 in this case) from things such flaxseeds, walnuts, etc, but I found out yesterday that, supposedly, the body doesn't convert very well the omega 3 acids on those nuts.

Ex: Flaxseeds are very high in omega 3 oils, but it's found in the form of ALA. ALA has to be converted to the body into an usable form, to EPA/DHA, but it does so poorly. Meaning you might not be getting all the necessary omega 3 from nuts. (source: https://examine.com/nutrition/can-i...or-omega-3s/).

Omega 3 has been found to be very useful and essential to humans.
The thing is, these oils are mostly found in Algae, the fish eat them, and people eat fish = people get omega 3.

I don't eat fish, therefore I have to get omega 3 from somewhere else. Eating algae regularly isn't on my mind.. nor omega 3 algae-source supplements, they are very expensive.


I used to be a very active person, now way less, but still active.
For the last 4 years, I took fish oil omega 3 supplement in a softgel and found it helped overall, plus I also ate fish. Both are things I won't/don't do anymore, hence my question.

Thanks!




Edited by - Domos on Dec 15 2016 12:39:24 PM

Mykal K

Germany
265 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  04:20:21 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mykal K's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
What about butter / ghee?
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Christi

United Kingdom
3449 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  06:14:17 AM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Domos,

Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from things that contain alpha-linolenic acid, such as flax seed, chia seed, hemp seed and so on. Alpha-linolenic acid is converted more slowly by the body than omega-3 obtained from fish, or fish oils, but it is still converted.

Good sources for vegetarians are:

Flax seed (the oil is 53% alpha-linolenic acid), Chia seed (30%), hemp-seed (20%), pumpkin seed (15%).
Dark green leafy vegetables also contain alpha-linolenic acid, such as kale, chard and parsley.

Milk and dairy products will also contain alpha-linolenic acid, as long as the animals producing the milk are grass fed. This is because the alpha-linolenic acid is contained in the chloroplasts of chlorophyll rich (green) plants.

Seaweed and microalgae contain EPA and DHA Omega-3's, but in low amounts, due to their low fat content.

The whole thing is complicated, because of the effect of Omega-6, which acts to reduce the conversion rate of alpha-linolenic acid into Omega-3's. So as well as making sure you have a range of foods in your diet that are high in ALA's, you could look to reduce foods that are high in omega-6. This would include things like sunflower oil and hydrogenated fats.

The whole area of study is also evolving, so recommendations over what to eat and what not to eat and explanations of how things work in our bodies, are continuously changing.


Christi

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Charliedog

1461 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  07:42:24 AM  Show Profile  Visit Charliedog's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Is it better to eat the seeds whole or to break them? I wonder if I eat them whole if the seeds are digested. I vary in this, because I don't know?
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Christi

United Kingdom
3449 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  09:02:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Charliedog,

A lot of seeds are designed to go through the digestion process whole. So you could grind them up, or buy them as oils.

The percentage figures I gave above for the alpha-linolenic acid content, were for the seeds in oil form.


Christi
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Charliedog

1461 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  09:35:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit Charliedog's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Christi,

quote:
A lot of seeds are designed to go through the digestion process whole.

Yes that is noticed. Thank you. Is eating whole seeds of any use, except for digestion/purging (don't know if this is the acceptable english word)?
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Charliedog

1461 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  10:00:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit Charliedog's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Domos,

quote:
I used to be a very active person, now way less, but still active.


Thanks for your sharing, like you I eat no meat, sometimes fish and I do eat eggs and cheese. I have the same questions as you, but I also believe that it looks like we are less active. The more stillness we develop, the less strain there is.
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Christi

United Kingdom
3449 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  10:52:22 AM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Charliedog,

quote:
Is eating whole seeds of any use, except for digestion/purging


It think it depends on the seed.

I have heard that flax seeds should be eaten in the ground-up from rather than whole, because they will pass straight through if they are not ground already. The same goes for chia seeds where studies have shown that little nutritional benefit is gained from eating them if they are not ground-up already. Hemp seeds are reported to be easier to digest, so can be eaten whole or ground and we can still gain the benefits from them. Pumpkin seeds are easy to chew, so they can be eaten whole and digested.


Christi


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Charliedog

1461 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  1:02:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit Charliedog's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for the info Christi, I've heard never to buy them ground-up because they not contain anything useful then. Grind them up ourself is better.
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Christi

United Kingdom
3449 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  3:06:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Charliedog,

Yes, I have heard this too. If ground up seeds are exposed to heat, light and/or oxygen, then the polyunsaturated fats can begin to break down, including Omega-3 producing ALA's. So buying pre-ground seeds runs the risk that they are not as effective as freshly ground, depending on how they were ground and stored.

Christi
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Domos

30 Posts

Posted - Dec 16 2016 :  4:00:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Mykal K

What about butter / ghee?



Well, those are mainly omega 6 fats, both have omega 3 as well, but not a good ratio, which is important as Christi said.

Plus they are very high in saturated fats and Cholesterol.
But so is olive oil, which I use when I cook rice/whole wheat/sweet potato. I might give it a try but doubt it will make any difference in terms of "proper" omega 3.




Thanks for the reply Christi. I guess it's a complicated subject.
My question now is, are humans supposed to eat fish? Since science says we really do need these essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA Omega 3), and they are mostly found in fish (because they eat algae)..
[Read Sri Yukteswar - The Holy Science, pag. 43]


quote:
Originally posted by Charliedog

Hi Domos,

quote:
I used to be a very active person, now way less, but still active.


Thanks for your sharing, like you I eat no meat, sometimes fish and I do eat eggs and cheese. I have the same questions as you, but I also believe that it looks like we are less active. The more stillness we develop, the less strain there is.



Hi Charliedog, that is very true we "become" stillness in action!



Anyway, about this Omega 3 EPA/DHA thing, I guess the best we can do is either:
1. Supplement with vegetarian/vegan omega 3 EPA/DHA (like opti3) which is a safer/easier yet more expensive option;

or like Christi said

2. Reduce the amount of Omega 6 (vegetable oils/butters) and eat ground-up flaxseeds, or other seeds/plant-based-foods with omega 3 ALA, which will poorly convert to DHA/EPA but by eating enough of them and reducing Omega 6, it will be enough.

Any other conclusion is welcome,
Thanks everyone!
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Mykal K

Germany
265 Posts

Posted - Dec 17 2016 :  07:07:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mykal K's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Well, those are mainly omega 6 fats, both have omega 3 as well, but not a good ratio, which is important as Christi said.


Are you saying that cows have unhealthy omega3/omega6 ratio? Or that they have it so just in milk and butter?
But they feed their little ones with it! I do not believe it!! I refuse to!
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BlueRaincoat

United Kingdom
1396 Posts

Posted - Dec 17 2016 :  07:46:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Domos
Omega 3 has been found to be very useful and essential to humans
Hi Domos

Have you found a solid piece of research that supports this assertion?

There was a piece of research by Burr & Burr early 20th century, before all the B vitamins were discovered. The critics of the experiment point out the symptoms developed by the experimental rats are identical to those produced by deficiency of some B vitamins. As far as I know, the Burr & Burr experiment has never been replicated, so we are in fact lacking uncontroversial evidence that Omega 3 are essential.

I can't say I've spent a lot of time studying this topic (one would have to go back to the Burr & Burr experiment and study its protocol in detail), but the fact that Omega 3 has not been classed as a vitamin seems to indicate that the scientific community is not persuaded this compound is essential to life. If it were, we would be calling it a vitamin.

Edited by - BlueRaincoat on Dec 17 2016 07:47:49 AM
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Domos

30 Posts

Posted - Dec 17 2016 :  10:42:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Mykal K

quote:
Well, those are mainly omega 6 fats, both have omega 3 as well, but not a good ratio, which is important as Christi said.


Are you saying that cows have unhealthy omega3/omega6 ratio? Or that they have it so just in milk and butter?
But they feed their little ones with it! I do not believe it!! I refuse to!





It's the milk/butter.



Hi BlueRaincoat, thanks for the reply.
Well, this just gets more and more confusing

There are lots and lots of studies done on this, as far as I know. Check this out: https://examine.com/supplements/fish-oil/

Having said that.. here's a very interesting link, http://www.functionalps.com/blog/20...fatty-acids/

Everyone checking this thread should read it.

Any thoughts?
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Christi

United Kingdom
3449 Posts

Posted - Dec 17 2016 :  12:47:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Domos,

quote:
I guess the best we can do is either:
1. Supplement with vegetarian/vegan omega 3 EPA/DHA (like opti3) which is a safer/easier yet more expensive option;

or like Christi said

2. Reduce the amount of Omega 6 (vegetable oils/butters) and eat ground-up flaxseeds, or other seeds/plant-based-foods with omega 3 ALA, which will poorly convert to DHA/EPA but by eating enough of them and reducing Omega 6, it will be enough.


Just to clarify, I was not saying that there were two alternatives and presenting one as the best of the two. I was saying that there are a range of sources of both ALA and Omega-3's available to vegetarians. These include:

1. Seeds and nuts, and their oils.
2. Green leafy vegetables.
3. Milk and milk products, where the animals are grass fed.
4. Seaweed and algae.

Opti 3 and similar products are just ways of buying no. 4.


As you have noticed, the science is complicated. It may be a few more years before we get more of a handle on what is going on in the body regarding omega-3's and how it affects our health.


Christi
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BlueRaincoat

United Kingdom
1396 Posts

Posted - Dec 17 2016 :  2:50:41 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Domos
There are lots and lots of studies done on this, as far as I know.
It's important to look at the solidity of the research quoted. There are lots of "studies" around that do not comply with the requirements of rigorous scientific research. The fact that there are commercial interests around these supplements does not help the matter. Masses of literature has been created that is not founded on solid science.

It has been possible to provide incontrovertible proof for every single substance classed as a vitamin. Why is it then so difficult to prove the case for Omega 3?

Edited by - BlueRaincoat on Dec 18 2016 04:35:34 AM
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Domos

30 Posts

Posted - Dec 18 2016 :  08:59:58 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi.
So what do you suggest, BlueRaincoat?
I assume you don't eat fish, don't supplement with some sort of omega3 and don't pay special attention on getting the supposed essential fatty acids from other sources (ALA, via plants). Can you also tell us about your personal experience with this? Thanks


Hi Christi. Thanks for the reply. I agree.

Cheers
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BlueRaincoat

United Kingdom
1396 Posts

Posted - Dec 18 2016 :  11:59:03 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
quote:
Originally posted by Domos
I assume you don't eat fish, don't supplement with some sort of omega3 and don't pay special attention on getting the supposed essential fatty acids from other sources (ALA, via plants).

It made me laugh just seeing how accurate your guess is. When I get too hungry to be vegetarian (it happens when I overdo my yoga and I overload), I do occasionally eat fish, but not oily fish - I can't stand its smell, let alone its taste. The only supplement I take is vitamin D, because I know there isn't enough UVB to be had in this country in winter months. And I eat whatever I fancy, ovo-lacto vegetarian food most of the time.

Years ago I did try to take an oily fish supplement. I remember a revolting taste coming back into my mouth for hours afterwards, so I didn't take it for very long.

About 8-9 years ago I happened to do some reading about fatty acids and discovered it is possible to have too many unsaturated ones in your diet. The trouble is that they are unstable molecules (that's what unsaturated means). If there are lots of polyunsaturated fatty acids packed together, they will generate a free radical chain reaction, which will damages living cells. So what I'm careful about these days is balancing the saturated and unsaturated fats in my diet.
Omega 3 are highly unsaturated. If they are good for you in small quantities (and the jury is out on this one), we know for certain they are bad for you in excess. The maximum safe dose differs depending on what source you read. The trouble is many people don't even know there is a safe maxim dose. If you have a meal of oily fish and take you omega supplement as well, then sprinkle your salad with flax seeds, you might easily be getting too many Omega 3s.

By the way, there is a reason why I know too much unsaturated fat is definitely bad for me:
After doing my reading about fatty acids (those 8-9 years ago), I ran an experiment and replaced all the unsaturated fats I could identify in my diet with saturated ones. A few months of this diet fixed a hyper-pigmentation problem that had got out of hand (to which no dermatologist could offered any solution, but after a few months of saturated fats only, I was able to ditch foundation altogether). After about 6 months months of actively avoiding unsaturated fats, I gradually reintroduced them - we do need them, there is no doubt about that. I believe there is something like an ideal saturated to unsaturated ratio. I simply listen to my taste buds. I find that eating what tastes right does the balancing job.

Good luck with your dietary decisions. My advice would be to really pay attention to what foods taste like when you have your meals. You will know which is right for you and what you've had too much of.

Edited by - BlueRaincoat on Dec 18 2016 12:00:37 PM
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Mykal K

Germany
265 Posts

Posted - Dec 18 2016 :  12:28:29 PM  Show Profile  Visit Mykal K's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I knew the cows know their stuff...
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BlueRaincoat

United Kingdom
1396 Posts

Posted - Dec 19 2016 :  12:19:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
They do, and the evidence is slowly coming to light:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26622399
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Domos

30 Posts

Posted - Dec 22 2016 :  1:12:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks BlueRaincoat for all the info.

I guess there's no apparent conclusion to this issue.
Perhaps the best is just to keep on practicing and listening to what our body is saying meanwhile.

Thanks
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