FAQ: How healthy are people who do not eat fish or take fish oil supplements?



Plants are a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Many populations do not consume fish relying instead on plant based diets. Full-term infants, for example, obtain an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, for brain development from breast milk or enriched infant formula. Furthermore, full-term infants born to vegan and vegetarian women, who typically have low DHA intakes, appear to develop normally and do not exhibit deficits in brain development. Adult vegans and vegetarians, who obtain most or all of their omega-3 fats in the form of ALA-rich plants, are remarkably healthy and have low rates of heart disease and some types of cancer. Plus, plant-based diets are more environmentally friendly, contributing less to green-house gases and requiring fewer energy inputs than meat-based diets.