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Is a DHA supplement necessary?

I have been reading up on the omega-3 fatty acids and was wondering if a DHA supplement is necessary for vegans. 
Does anyone have any suggestions or opinions on this?  And is there anyone that takes a DHA supplement?

Darn it....after I spent $13 on a jar of spirulina (and I don't really have that kind of money to spare), I found out that it only has trace amounts of DHA and EPA. :-( 

http://www.drsears.com/DesktopModules/EngagePublish/printerfriendly.aspx?itemId=10593&PortalId=6&TabId=399

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    Spirulina does contain GLA, EPA, and DHA. Although spirulina is rich in vitamins and minerals, it is very low in total fat content. As a result, the amount of spirulina you would need to consume is in the order of pounds per day.

    http://wdatech.free.fr/CSVTECH/spirulinafacts.htm

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    Average mg/kg
    Docosahexaenoic (DHA) 14,5

So the only vegan way to get sufficient DHA and EPA (at least 270mg per day and ideally a combined intake of 500mg per day) is to take supplements.

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I researched it after I read your other post and saw that.  You didn't waste your money, you just didn't get DHA/EPA.

One tablespoon of dried spirulina has 4.02 grams of protein.

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I take DHA.  And I have been reading - probably too much about it.

What I have read that it is not necessary for a vegan diet if you are getting Omega 3 oil from some food (like flax seed).  Our bodies can make DHA from Omega 3.

From what I understand DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid but is DHA itself cannot be metabolized is significant amounts from flaxseed oil. Vegan diets are very low in DHA as the primary source of DHA is algae. . .which fish ingest. . . which is why it is in fish oil.

Everywhere I looked it was sold in gelatin capsules. I finally ordered vegan DHA online today.

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Thanks H_H, that's true...I'll sprinkle it on my food and hopefully at least get some extra nutrition and protein with it! But I really wish I could have spent that money on a DHA/EPA supplement instead!

I was thinking about this, and it's not just something that vegans need. Omnis who don't eat coldwater fish every day wouldn't reach the recommended minimum of 250mg per day either.

At Veganhealth.org, they recommend just taking DHA and making sure you get enough ALA, and not worrying about EPA:

http://veganhealth.org/articles/omega3

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It is not clear what amount of DHA is best to supplement. 500 mg might be ideal, but that is an expensive amount and in the face of no compelling evidence that vegans are being harmed by lower blood levels of DHA, it seems unnecessary. Based on the amounts of vegan DHA that are available, I would recommend 200 to 300 mg per day.

If you are getting the recommended ALA and DHA, EPA should not be a problem. It should be pointed out that fish contain about twice as much DHA as EPA (27), so it's not unusual to get more DHA than EPA in the diet.

However, it shows that we only convert DHA to EPA at about a 10% efficiency:

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A 1996 Canadian study (2) showed an 11 - 12% conversion rate of DHA to EPA after 6 weeks of 1,620 mg of DHA in vegetarians.

A 1997 Canadian study (1) of vegetarians and meat-eaters showed a conversion rate of 9.4% of DHA to EPA from a dose of 1,620 mg DHA per day for 6 weeks, with no differences between groups.

A 1996 French study (3) fed three people 123 mg of DHA one time and found a conversion rate to EPA of 1.4%.

And earlier in the article, it says that increasing ALA intake didn't seem to help much with EPA:

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A 1999 study (Table 5) of 17 vegetarian men in Australia (15), aged about 26 to 42 years old, showed that four weeks of 3.7 g of ALA per day (the equivalent of about 1.5 teaspoons of flaxseed oil) did not significantly increase the percentages of EPA or DHA in various blood lipids (fats)

A 2000 study from The Netherlands (20) showed no change in EPA or DHA after 4 weeks of 2.0 g of ALA per day in 9 vegans aged 20 to 60 years old. By adding that much ALA, the ratio of dietary ALA:LA went from 13.7 to 6.7.

So I don't know, seems like it couldn't hurt to take a combo DHA/EPA vegan supplement, now that they are available!

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I was at the store today and saw that Futurebiotics brand has New Harvest omega-3 vegetarian EPA.  Thirty 600 mg vegetarian softgels were $12.95.

Spectrum had a ninety 120 mg vegetarian DHA softgels for $24.59.

Although I figure it's not something you'd necessarily have to take every day.

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I just got through reading Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman and he stated our body can convert Omega 3 oil to DHA.  So that is what came to my mind first when I blurted that out in a previous post to this thread.  It seems like I go back and forth every time I read something new… some say take DHA some say you can get it from Omega 3 oils.

So, I agree there is information out there that recommends vegans take DHA, but I am hesitant to recommend it to jennveg as being “necessary” or required since it is expensive and it might be possible to get all you need from canola oil.

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well, you can get plenty of omega 3 from canola oil, but apparently not much DHA. It seems like a lot of us make extra effort to get general omega 3 (through flax, walnuts, whatever), though it's the DHA that is harder to get without supplementation. =/
I found a 90-softgel bottle on Amazon for about $20 (with 1/day), but I still wish it was less expensive... a bottle of B12 lasts forever and my calcium costs about 2.50/month. =/

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I just got through reading Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman and he stated our body can convert Omega 3 oil to DHA.  So that is what came to my mind first when I blurted that out in a previous post to this thread.  It seems like I go back and forth every time I read something new… some say take DHA some say you can get it from Omega 3 oils.

I've read Fuhrman too, I don't remember if it was Eat to Live or somewhere else, but he's also said that people differ in their ability to convert omega 3 oils to DHA. Some people can make enough DHA this way without the need for supplementation, but for other people the conversion process is too inefficient to meet their DHA needs. Unless you know where you stand (I'm not sure there is a way to find out?), Fuhrman thinks supplementation with algae-derived DHA may be wise.

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I take the algae DHA. Unfortunately the kind I have now is in a gelatin capsule, so I'll get vegan ones when they run out, but my primary reason for taking them is because omega 3's are good for people with autoimmune diseases and too many flax or walnuts interferes with some medications that I'm on.

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I take the algae DHA. Unfortunately the kind I have now is in a gelatin capsule, so I'll get vegan ones when they run out, but my primary reason for taking them is because omega 3's are good for people with autoimmune diseases and too many flax or walnuts interferes with some medications that I'm on.

What brand do you use currently?

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