The concern regarding conversion of plant based omega3 (EPA-DHA) has long been an issue we have addressed in our work, and a reason why we have not endorsed the soy and canola based "plant sterol" products. This quote from Dr. Newport is very much the same as we have written many times. It is a reason too why I am a firm supporter of spirulina.
"While flax oil, walnuts and other vegetable sources of omega-3 are beneficial, they may not be converted efficiently in the body, especially in older people, to DHA and EPA, the two forms of omega-3 that are extremely important to brain function. It is therefore important to take a marine source of omega-3; for most of us this is fish oil. This would be a problem for vegans. I have recently learned that there is a high DHA oil available that is from algae rather than fish or other animal marine life. The supplements suggested for pregnant women are often made from this. Specifically, schizochytrium oil, is available over the counter at health food stores and pharmacies."
Original post date April 2006
Well the media spin of course will now tell you that Omega3s are unhealthy. This comment might make you more interested in having skepticism about mass media reports, at least I hope so,
24th March: Fish oil may not be so healthy after all says the British Medical Journal
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers analysed 89 studies to assess the effects of Omega-3 fats on death rates, heart disease, cancer and strokes. Their findings (which we vigorously contest): no strong evidence that Omega-3 fats had any benefits! It's important to realise that this is not a new study, but rather a study of studies (a meta-analysis). The conclusions drawn by the authors are, in our view, deeply misleading. They ignore the very large body of evidence that shows great benefits of Omega-3 (especially marine-derived, long chain Omega-3 fatty acids [EPA and DHA] that are known to be free of mercury and PCB contamination) with respect to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as for proper immune system function. Lee Hooper (lead author) and colleagues omitted numerous important studies, they selected studies mainly involving diseased subjects (whose conditions were likely to have been triggered well before they started supplementing in the trials), they included great ranges in dosages (meaning that direct comparisons between studies are of little value) and they masked the benefits of marine oils by diluting the high quality studies in with weaker studies assessing affects of non-marine sources of short-chain Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., as found in some margarines).
Of interest is the recent release by Norwegian scientists (30th March), who are developing a chewable Omega-3 candy, stating that Omega-3-containing products have experienced massive growth in recent years backed up by scientific research that has linked the fish oils to a range of health benefits.