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Monday, 2 October 2017

Marine Phytoplankton: Long Chain EPA Oil for Vegans

 By Piers Moore-Ede

In the vegan community, the debate about long chain EPA has been running for a long time. While vegans can generally obtain (and indeed exceed) almost everything in the carnivorous and vegetarian diets through careful dietary choices, the long chain fatty acids present in certain cold-water fish are hard to acquire. This article will explore the possibility that marine phytoplankton, long the food choice of whales, is the perfect place to get it.

What are the Important Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

These are:

•    EPA: eicosapentaenoic acid
•    ALA: - alpha-linolenic acid
•    DHA - docosahexaenoic acid

Amongst these, it appears to be EPA and DHA which exhibit the most potent benefits for human health. As luck would have it for vegans (until now!) traditional plant sources don’t contain either of them – it’s oily fish like salmon, mackerel or krill which offer the best sources.

Whilst some people point out that the human body has the capacity to convert ALA (found in seeds like linseed) to EPA, the truth is it does so only poorly. Even someone who consumes a prodigious amount of flax oil wouldn’t be receiving the same benefits as someone who is ingesting fish oil directly.

Why is Long Chain EPA so powerful?

It was contact with traditional peoples like the Inuit which first prompted scientists to investigate whether a diet high in fish oil could offer health benefits. It turns out these oils offer incredible benefits (1) to cardiovascular health, neurological function, and skin conditions like eczema, to name a few. Scientists believe these affects are due partly to the ways essential fatty acids affect cellular communication, and partly due to their inherent anti-inflammatory properties. Research suggests these oils also offer overall metabolic benefits (2) promoting lean tissue mass and counteracting obesity.

Phytoplankton: The ‘Fish Oil’ Solution for Vegans

Algal Oil is one of the fastest growing supplements in the health industry. In the last decade, scientists have realised that rather than relying on fish oil supplements in an increasingly toxic ocean, it’s possibly to harvest the oil directly from the place the fish get their own supply: algae like marine phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton is a single-celled plant, 5-7 times smaller than a red blood cell, which photosynthesizes energy from sunlight. Beloved by vast sea mammals such as whales, and smaller creatures like salmon and krill, these plants are the very source of the fatty acids which give fish their health-giving properties. In recent years, aquaculturists have perfected the art of creating artificial plankton blooms in indoor greenhouses called bioreactors. The resulting mass of phytoplankton is then carefully dried and pressed to release the health-giving algal oils. The result is the world’s first vegan source of long-chain essential fatty acids. It has the added benefit of being produced in laboratory conditions in purified water, meaning it is completely pure. Most oceanic fish are now of questionable provenance and likely contaminated in various ways, especially with heavy metals.

Why take marine phytoplankton?

As well as being one of the most nutritionally dense substances you are ever likely to ingest, marine phytoplankton is alkalising, and incredibly easily absorbed, due to its tiny cell size. It may be this factor which makes it such an instant source of energy – but athletes and those battling fatigue have been some of the earliest adopters.
Users generally note a sustained, balanced energy, clear skin, and deeper sleep. Many people with compromised immunity are also noting its usefulness in promoting general wellbeing and increased resistance.

Is there a downside to phytoplankton?

If there is a downside, it’s the price. While cheaper pond-grown plankton supplements are now available (think pond scum!), the real deal, grown in closed-loop bioreactors is expensive to produce and thus makes it a premium health supplement. This is likely to change as the market grows and more people come to know about this powerful, healthful green powder.

Author Bio

Piers Moore-Ede is the author of 3 travel books, most recently Kaleidoscope City: A Year in Varanasi. He was so blown away by the power of phytoplankton, he’s started a website about it which you could read at Plankton for Health.



A note from the editor:
We recommend 2 brands of DHA/EPA supplement:

Veganicity - Top supplements for health & maximum performance. Get 35% off using the code VEGANBODY2017

Vegetology - Makers of Vitamin D3, DHA/EPA omega-3 oil, multi vitamins, and Joint pain products 15% off using code VEGANHEALTH

Both of these are different products, so compare what they offer and use the one that best fits your needs

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