Omega-3 confusion. So Fish Oil or Flax Seed Oil?

What is Omega-3? We all know it is important yet always so confusing. It is an essential fatty acid that is critical for your body’s systems to run smoothly.  ‘Essential fatty acid’ means that it is necessary for human health, but your body can not make it. You have to get it through food or supplementation. The benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids have now been well established through a number of recent studies.

The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that Omega-3s fatty acides are critical for proper nerve function and  are used from treating psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder to diseases caused by excessive inflammation or who have an increased risk of having a heart attack. They are also know to affecting on your mood, vision, skin, joints, brain, heart, lowering your cholesterol and even increasing fertility greatly.  (See Fish Oil – truth about it and dosages.)

So, no surprise, there is suddenly a plethora of products at the store all claiming to be the the best sources of Omega-3.

 

Fish oil contains two omega-3s that are especially important: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body uses EPA to create many hormone-like substances that reduce inflammation and other “excited” states in the body, such as raised blood pressure. Also, eight percent of the brain is composed of EPA and DHA.

Flaxseed oil is being heavily promoted as an alternative to fish oil. It contains a third, plant-based omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Other foods (especially walnuts) and oils (canola and soybean, for example) contain ALA. But at about 7 grams per tablespoon, flaxseed oil is by far the richest source.

So the difference?
Remember that all that goodness and benefits we get are from EPA and DHA not ALA. When consuming Flaxseed there is an extra step of the ALA requires enzymes from your body to create the EPA and DHA. The general medical consensus is that a maximum of 5% of flax seed oil that is consumed may convert within the body to EPA, while a maximum of 2% may convert to DHA. Since that’s the form your body needs, the benefits of flaxseed oil really aren’t that great.

Long story short
Fish oil gives you more bang for your buck. But make sure you get good quality fish oil. Here’s the dos and don’ts.

 

Sources of Omega 3: Flaxseed Oil vs Fish Oil
http://www.fooduciary.com/sources-of-omega-3-flaxseed-oil-vs-fish-oil/

Why not flaxseed oil?
http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/Why-not-flaxseed-oil.shtml

Difference Between Flaxseed Oil Capsules & Fish Oil?
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/difference-between-flaxseed-oil-capsules-fish-oil-10238.html

Fish Oil versus Flax Seed Oil—Which Is Better?
http://www.supplementquality.com/efficacy/fishoil_flaxoil.html