Algae oil supplements – an alternative to fish oil
Do you include enough omega 3 in your diet? Taking a Feel Algae Omega 3 supplement is one easy way to increase the amount of Omega 3 in your diet. After taking it for a couple of months I wanted to report back on the benefits I found, along with why you’d actually want to be taking something like algae in the first place!
Firstly, what is Algae?
Well, check out the sides of the next fish tank that you see. If it’s not so clean and there’s green stuff growing on the glass – that’s algae. So why am I talking about algae today? And why would anyone want to eat that stuff? Because it contains Omega 3 and you know from some of my previous posts that you want to be getting plenty of Omega 3 in your diet. Today I want to recap on why you need to be getting more Omega 3 into your life and how algae oil may be a not so fishy option!
What is an Omega 3 fatty acid?
The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed and some vegetable oils (although these may be genetically modified if grown specifically for Omega 3 supplementation). DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood, along with microalgae, as I recently found out from Feel, who offer a ‘fish-free’ omega 3 supplement. I’ve been taking their Algae Omega 3 supplement for a couple of months and have noticed a definite benefit in a few areas. More on that in a bit. First, why are Omega 3’s essential?
Omega 3’s are ‘essential fatty acids’, meaning that your body can’t make them, therefore, getting EPA and DHA from foods (and dietary supplements if appropriate) is the only practical way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body. These Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods, such as oily fish (think S.M.A.S.H – Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon and Herring) as well as flaxseed. Flaxseed contains ALA, which must in turn be converted into DHA and EPA and so is slightly less beneficial. There has been a huge rise in recent years in dietary supplements of Omega 3, and these are made of a variety of different fish oils and more recently, made from algae.
Why is it so important to have a good intake of Omega 3 fatty acids?
This is obviously my favourite reason. Being a cardiac nurse, I have worked with many patients with a wide range of heart conditions and have been encouraging them to increase their Omega 3 intake for years. You will regularly hear me say ‘two serves of oily fish a week please’ to my clients as it is a very good source. Many research studies support the view that EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids are cardio-protective nutrients (5). Several studies have shown that high doses of DHS help to lower the levels of triglycerides in the blood (4). Other studies have found minimal changes between those supplementing with DHA and EPA and the placebo group, however no harm was noted (4). A recent systematic review found that doses of EPA and DHA greater than 1g per day for 3 months also reduced that percentage of small dense LDL particles (the particles that lead to plaque formation) (5).
One systematic review of over 50 studies found that fish oil supplements reduced platelet aggregation in healthy subjects and that this effect did not result in increased bleeding risk during or after surgery (7). Consequently, this systematic review does not support the need for discontinuation of fish oil supplements prior to surgery or other invasive procedures in healthy subjects. Obviously, you should always tell your doctor or surgeon if you are taking any supplements and they may ask you to stop taking them prior to surgery.
Cell Membrane Health
Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA levels are especially high in retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells.
DHA also helps to transmit messages between nerves. Having adequate levels of DHA makes it easier and more efficient for nerve cells to communicate.
DHA is essential for the grown and development of the brain in babies and is also required for normal brain function in adults. A diet high in DHA improves learning ability (1). Some—but not all—research shows that people who consume more omega-3s from food such as fish may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other problems with cognitive function (2). More study of the effects of omega-3s on the brain is needed.
Decreasing Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. Some clinical trials have shown that taking omega-3 supplements may help manage RA when taken together with standard RA medications and other treatments (3). For example, people with RA who take omega-3 supplements may need less pain-relief medication, but it is not clear if the supplements reduce joint pain, swelling, or morning stiffness.
This is one of the main reasons I started taking the Feel Omega 3 Algae supplement – as you know I’ve had eczema for many years and have tried just about everything! One thing I had tried in the past was Fish oils, however I never noticed a benefit. After doing an elimination diet recently, I’ve discovered I actually react very badly to fish and so taking a fish supplement would have been aggravating my skin! So the algae oil is a fantastic alternative and I’ve already noticed an improvement in my skin texture and it feels more smooth.
How much omega-3s do you need?
Current guidelines recommend up to about 1 g per day of EPA plus DHA (combined). Higher doses have been prescribed, in particular to those with high triglycerides. Talk to your GP or consultant about whether taking Omega 3 supplements is appropriate for you.
You can get around 1g dosage by eating a serving of oily fish every other day. However, there are several problems with getting in enough Omega 3’s this way, including:
- Overfishing has led to a decline in the fish population.
- Farming of salmon may decrease the amount of DHA and EPA available due to a change in what the fish are eating.
- The amount of Omega 3’s may differ depending on type of fish, how it’s been stored, and what it’s been fed – farmed fish may not contain the same amounts as wild fish for example.
There are also some potential issues with taking fish oil supplements:
- Poor quality supplements leading to the oil going rancid if exposed to heat, sunlight or poorly manufactured
- Some fish oil supplements can be contaminated with pollution, heavy metals
- If you have an allergy to fish or fish oils taking fish oil supplements will not be possible
Unfortunately I’ve recently discovered on my eczema journey that my skin reacts BADLY to salmon. Rather annoying when I’ve been promoting oily fish, in particular salmon, to all of my Heart patients for years. I’ve been eating it myself once or twice a week for about 12 years too, since I moved to the UK (I never really ate it in Australia as other fish were more widely available).
So if you’re like me and can’t eat fish, what’s a good alternative?
Algae are a marine-based organisms that live in water and make energy from the sun. They are one of the most abundant organisms in the ocean and are contain three main components that make them nutritious to eat:
- chlorophyll and other plant pigments
- omega-3 fatty acids in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- important marine minerals such as iodine
And, think about it – where do the fish that provide Omega 3 for us get it from? The food that they eat! So, you can cut out the ‘middle-man’ aka the fish, and go straight to their food source – algae!
I know what you’re thinking, yuk! So rather than scraping ponds and fish tanks for the stuff, companies such as Feel have done the research for us and have been able to cleanly and safely grow it in a lab for us. And then packaged it without any other nasties or additives in a easy to take capsule! No fishy aftertaste, no additives, and no pressure on the fish ecosystem.
Also, you do not need as high a dose of algae oil versus taking a fish oil supplement. This is because algae oil is more concentrated in omega-3s and in DHA and is better metabolised thus a smaller dose of 1g per day is needed (7).
If you know that you don’t include enough omega 3 in your diet, taking an Omega 3 supplement like Feel Algae Omega 3 is one easy way to increase omega 3 in your diet. I’ve even managed to get Healthy Hearties readers 10% off their first box! Simply enter OMEGA10 at the checkout.
Here’s What I Love About Feel Omega 3 Fish Oil
- Feel are a UK based company and make all their supplements in the UK
- The Algae Oil is 100% Sustainable – giving us all the benefits of fish oil but without harming the fish or the ocean. They grow their algae in large fermentation pools so it doesn’t take it away from the fish!
- It’s fish-free meaning I can still get enough Omega 3 into my diet without eating fish (it makes me incredibly itchy!)
- Feel is like the Netflix of supplements – you can sign up to receive them monthly if you like so you never run out and don’t have to start the decision process again when you go to buy your next packet!
- They offer free delivery and it turns up 1-2 business days later.
- The packaging contains NO plastic – bonus points in my book!
Why not give it a try? Feel are offering Healthy Hearties readers 10% off their first box of Algae Omega 3 Supplement – simply enter OMEGA10 at the checkout. Click HERE to order and get superfast delivery from the UK too.
Any side effects from taking omega-3 supplements in smaller amounts are usually mild. They are more likely with the fish oil supplements or if a fish oil has gone rancid. include an unpleasant taste in the mouth, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, headache and smelly sweat. I did not have any side effects when taking the Algae Omega 3. It was nice to avoid the fishy burps that normally happen with fish oil!
Are there any interactions with omega-3s that I should know about?
Omega-3 dietary supplements may interact with the medications you take. For example, high doses of omega-3s may cause bleeding problems when taken with warfarin or other anticoagulant medicines. Fish oil has also been noted to ‘thin the blood’ and thus caution should always be taken if you take any medication that alters your blood like aspirin, clopidogrel, Ticagrelor, Warfarin or others. These is less research to show that this is the same with Algae oil. Please always check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking any supplements. Talk with your healthcare provider about any possible interactions between omega-3 supplements and your medications.
Higher doses are sometimes used to lower triglycerides, so you should be under the care of a healthcare provider to monitor your blood levels and adjust dosage as necessary.
So, do you include enough omega 3 in your diet? Taking a Feel Algae Omega 3 supplement is one easy way to increase omega 3 in your diet. Let me know how you get on and what you think about Algae!
Want more help deciding what supplements may be beneficial for you? Get in touch to find out more about my personalised cardiac rehab exercise and nutrition programmes!
Lastly, following food author Michael Pollan’s super basic advice about choosing what to eat or what diet to follow may be the best way forward: “Eat food. Not too much. Mainly plants.”
Yours in heart health,