During the scheduled break of that neuroimaging bootcamp I am at, I was looking at the status of Omega-3 fatty acids critical for neuronal integrity and retinal function, to start with, in a vegan diet. Although my research was brief, it was also informative.
The proper metabolic derivation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plus eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)–available in fish and fish oil but NOT plants via alpha linoleic acids available in flaxceed and canola oil (vegan sources), if very limited in humans. In fact, “Current intakes of DHA are approximately 20% of the target (300 mg/day) suggested by an expert scientific group during pregnancy and lactation. The extremely low intake of DHA in young children (e.g., approximately 19 mg DHA/day on average for 3-yr. olds in North America ) is also of particular concern. Current intakes of DHA/EPA (combined) of 130 mg/day are approximately 15% of the target (900 mg/day) officially recommended by the American Heart Association for those with coronary heart disease and 20% of the 650 mg/day advised by an expert scientific group for healthy individuals. In view of the widespread reluctance of the public to consume sufficient amounts of fish, functional foods containing DHA plus EPA will become increasingly important sources of these important nutrients in the coming years to support optimal brain/visual performance, for cardio care, and other health conditions for young and old alike.” (see http://www.dhaomega3.org/Overview/Introduction-to-Omega-3, and also http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21204526, and http://www.fatsoflife.com/fatty-acid-basics/metabolic-fate-of-la-ala-and-lc-pufas/).
It’s critical to supplement properly and secure an adequate supply of fatty acids. Luckily, vegan supplements are available, and every vegan should be acquainted with and utilize these sources.
Be a smart vegan!