New research by UK margarine brand Flora has suggested that consumption of Omega 3 in the UK remains low as families are still not consuming sufficient quantities of foodstuffs rich in the important nutrient. The survey indicated that more than 80% of people were concerned that no one in their family was consuming enough Omega-3.
London Nutritionist and founder of Foods For Life Yvonne Bishop-Weston agrees that people are right to be concerned. Omega 3 is an essential nutrient often missing from the modern diet she says but people need to differentiate between the different types of Omega 3 it's actually the long chain fatty acids EPA and DHA that our body need for brain health and cell membrane integrity. Despite a higher consumption of omega 3 rich foods the EPIC/Oxford University study showed vegetarians and vegans were still lacking in DHA and EPA.
Omega 3, found in oily fish, green leafy herbs such as purslane, nuts and seeds, is thought to be important for heart health and brain function. Some experts believe it may also help learning and concentration among children, and may also be good for joint and health.
Canadian author and registered dietitian, Vesanto Melina, specializing in vegetarian nutrition and foods confirms It can be a challenge for many of us to produce adequate amounts of EPA and DHA. Thus, many may enjoy benefits from direct sources, and preformed EPA and DHA may improve our health.
Flora, St Ivel, Marks and Spencer and many others have recently launched new products with additional Omega-3 essential fats.
All of this is a bit of a headache for the Vegetarian Society and those on vegetarian and religious diets. New milks high in omega 3 pose a big problem for the UK's Vegetarian Society and it's trademarked V symbol scheme. This is because new omega 3 rich dairy products have fish oil added to them or made from cows who have been unnaturally fed fish.
The Vegetarian Society has campaigned vigorously in recent years, through their lavish fishconceptions campaign part funded by Sir Paul McCartney to counter the misconception that some people still have that vegetarians eat fish.
When it comes to eggs only free range eggs fed GM and fish free meal are deemed acceptable for receiving the Vegetarian Society approved logo.
However there are still no criteria for Vegetarian Society approved dairy products. Thus approved products could contain dairy products from cruelly treated factory farmed dairy cows fed fish and GM soya.
The Vegetarian Society claim there is no agreed free range gold standard that they could impose on their licensees, but of course there are standards used by the RSPCA (Freedom Foods) and The Soil Association's Organic Standard that are a starting point. It's ironic that even McDonalds allegedly have stricter husbandry standards than the Vegetarian Society in order to avoid GM contamination of their milk.
Even the vegetarian guidelines that the Vegetarian Society negotiated with the Food Standards Agency are stricter than the criteria for V Symbol approval.
St Ivel and Flora's website tells us Omega 3 from fish (EPA/DHA) are the most effective forms of Omega 3 as they do not need to be converted in the body and can be put to use straight away. That's why we need to eat fish as part of our balanced diet.
A new vegetarian DHA EPA product called V Pure makes a lie of the last sentence of that statement and offers a light at the end of the tunnel for The Vegetarian Society. The makers of V Pure use a secret natural process to extract the pure EPA and DHA from Algae (which is where fish get DHA and EPA from)
A spokesperson for the V-Pure brand says 'that they expect V Pure to be appearing in many new products fortified with omega 3 Vegetarian DHA and EPA from bread to soft drinks. There are many problems associated with the fish based product; endangered fish stocks, toxicity, environmental damage and of course the fact that fish is unsuitable for so many different groups of consumer'
The V Pure brand is the first vegan approved alternative that is rich in EPA as well as DHA and is already available as a dietary supplement in liquid and capsule forms. They expect to get the relevant EU approval to add it to various foods and already have a queue of companies who would prefer to use their product rather than fish based EPA DHA.
Lets hope our grandchildren will still be able to use the phrase - there's plenty more fish in the sea.