Sources of OMEGA-3

For us, the main source of DHA and EPR is oily marine fish and other seafood, while the main source of ALR is vegetable oils and seeds and nuts (flaxseed and oil, walnuts, chia seeds, etc.). But generally speaking, the main source of omega-3 is GRASS. It sounds unbelievable, but yes, it's true. Meadow grasses and sea grasses (algae) are the primary source from which omega-3 reaches us through other organisms. How is it going?

ALR can be found wherever there are chloroplasts, that is, in all or parts of green plants, because ALR is a major component of the thylakoid membrane in chloroplasts. ALR is a purely plant-based omega-3 and accounts for more than 50% of of all fatty acids present in the green parts of the plant. [1] Clearly, green leafy vegetables are not the main source of ALR in humans. For us, there are much richer sources of ALR like walnuts, flaxseed or oil, canola oil, hemp oil, chia seeds, etc.

For herbivorous animals and birds, the primary source of ALR is grass. The ALR that enters their bodies with the grass is converted into other types of omega-3 acids, including EPR and DHA. This is why meat from grass-fed cattle or eggs from grass-fed chickens are listed as sources of omega-3. Research shows that meat from grass-fed cattle has significantly more omega-3 acids and a significantly better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 than grain-fed cattle.[2] In comparison, a large egg from grass-fed chickens has about 120 mg of DHA and 23 mg of EPR, which is about six times more than a scoop from grain-fed chickens.[3]

What about EPR and DHR? EPR and DHA are often referred to as marine omega-3 acids because they are found in the highest amounts in fatty marine fish (salmon, mackerel, etc.), marine molluscs, other marine animals, and algae. It is very important to mention that fish and other marine animals do not produce either EPR or DHA themselves, but obtain them through food, ie by eating algae, plankton or other animals. In other words, EPR and DHA are produced by algae, they are eaten by plankton, plankton by small fish, small fish by large fish, and when humans eat them, EPR and DHA reach our cells. Just as land animals get omega-3 acids from plants, the main source of omega-3s for marine animals is algae.

Nevertheless, it is important to mention that EPR and DHA can also be obtained from products of non-marine origin, albeit in much smaller quantities. Every animal that eats grass has these acids. So the products obtained from them, e.g. meat, milk, eggs also have them. However, the problem is that now farmed animals are more often fed not grass, but various grains and their products. Grains are not common feed and are not rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so foods from animals fed this way will also be low in omega-3s.

[1] Calder, PC "Nutritional benefits of omega-3 fatty acids." Food enrichment with omega-3 fatty acids. Woodhead Publishing, 2013. 3-26.

[2] Daley, Cynthia A., et al. "A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef." Nutrition journal 9.1 (2010): 1-12.

[3] Simopoulos, Artemis P. "The Mediterranean diets: what is so special about the diet of Greece? The scientific evidence." The Journal of nutrition 131.11 (2001): 3065S-3073S.