Do Plant-Based Omegas Work?

By WagWell Team
April 24, 2024

Fish oil is well-known in the supplement world. For both humans and pets, this omega fatty acid packed product has dominated the industry; but it has a dark secret. Fish or salmon oil consumption has significantly contributed to overfishing in our seas. Millions of metric tons of fish are harvested every year for the fish oil supplement industry. Plant-based alternatives offer a more sustainable option, but until recently, there hasn’t been a solution that is equally effective as their fish oil counterparts.

Understanding Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids are important dietary fats. They are essential for a healthy diet and benefit many bodily processes and organs. There are two types of omega fatty acids: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated omega fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-6) are not naturally synthesized by the body and therefore require supplementation. On the other hand, monounsaturated omega fatty acids (omega-9) can be internally produced, but added supplementation can offer certain advantages.


While there are many types of omega-3 fatty acids, the three most common are:


  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in fish, can partially convert into DHA.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fish, is the most important omega-3 fatty acid. It is a key structural component of the brain, retinas, and many other body parts.
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plants, is the most common omega-3 in a typical diet. ALA is biologically essential but its natural metabolism to EPA and DHA in the liver is limited. Spoiler alert: there is a plant-based omega-rich source that dramatically accelerates natural EPA/DHA conversion.


Omega-3 fatty acids help all the cells in your body function as they should. They’re a vital part of the cell membranes, providing structure and supporting cell interactions. Omega-3s are highly concentrated in the eye and brain cells but are essential across the body, especially in the cardiovascular and endocrine systems.


Omega-6s are another essential omega fatty acid that have a significant influence on the body. Similarly to omega-3s, they play a crucial role in brain function, and normal growth and development. They also help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.


Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is the most versatile omega-6. It is found everywhere in the body and helps with the function of all cells. The body converts GLA into substances that have anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.


Omega-6s can be controversial in the nutrition space. Some are pro-inflammatory, and while they’re counteracted by the anti-inflammatory omega-3s, they are crucial mediators of inflammation when your dog experiences heat, redness, swelling, pain, or loss of function. This inflammatory response tells the body when to bring in white blood cells to fight viruses, germs, and attacking bacteria.


It is essential to maintain the proper ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. The ideal ratio is between 1:1 and 4:1, but never more than 10:1, in favor of omega-6s. This will ensure that your dog doesn’t receive the inflammatory side effects that come with increased consumption of omega-6s.


While omega-9s are not essential, consuming foods that contain this omega fatty acid can provide many health benefits. A study conducted in 2015 found that mice with a diet high in monounsaturated fat improved insulin sensitivity and decreased inflammation. Omega-9s have great rewards for heart health: monounsaturated fats can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and, in turn, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Plant-Based Efficacy

Plant-based omega supplements are by no means a new product in the industry. Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and algal oil have dominated the plant-based space, but they aren’t without their issues. Plant-based omega sources contain ALA and are sorely missing the important EPA, DHA, and GLA that a healthy diet requires.


Alpha-linolenic acid is the omega-3 that is found in plant-based omega sources. This fatty acid is capable of converting into EPA, which in turn converts into DHA. Experts in the industry speak on how the conversion of ALA to EPA to DHA is highly inefficient. This conversion of ALA to EPA is only around 5%, and even less (<1%) when it comes to converting onward to DHA, in the bloodstream.


Why is this conversion inefficient, you might ask? Before ALA can convert into EPA, it must first become stearidonic acid (SDA). This step requires a liver enzyme called delta-6-desaturase, making this process a rate-limiting step. Simply stated: it reduces the conversion capabilities of the converted SDA.

Why is Ahiflower® Different?

Ahiflower® Oil will change the way we view plant-based omega sources. Ahiflower differs from other sources like flaxseed, chia seeds, and algal oil; it contains SDA in addition to ALA. This is one of Ahiflower’s advantages, as SDA converts readily into EPA. ALA needs to convert into SDA before it becomes EPA. The efficiency of metabolizing SDA bypasses ALA’s rate-limited step in the liver and results in up to 4 times higher levels of EPA in the body.


Ahiflower contains 18 - 20% SDA, the highest level of naturally occurring SDA of any dietary oil. Ahiflower is also the richest combined Omega-3-6-9 dietary oil (>90%) with strong scientific evidence of supporting an overall anti-inflammatory response in humans and animals. The added boost of algal DHA in our Ahiflower Omega Oil matches the efficacy of fish and salmon oil and provides the most complete and balanced total omegas for your dog’s overall skin, coat, joint, immune, cognitive, and cardiovascular wellness.  


WagWell is proud to use this efficacious, sustainable ingredient in our line of innovative supplements. If you’d like to learn more about Ahiflower and how we incorporate this stellar ingredient into our supplements, click here!


Ahiflower® Omega Oil

Daily essential you and your dog will love

Boost your dog’s diet with a complete and balanced blend of plant-based omega fatty acids (3, 6 & 9) derived from ahiflower to promote healthy skin, coat, and joints. Made with both dog and planetary health in mind, this sustainable, all-in-one omega solution is the essential complement to your dog’s daily diet.