Fish Oil vs Flaxseed Oil – Best Way to Get Your Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The Battle of the O-3’s Rages!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years, you’ve probably heard about the astounding health benefits of essential omega 3 fatty acids.

The more we learn about how our bodies work and how food interacts with our bodies at the cellular level, the more benefits we find about this awesome supplement. The question that everyone needs answered, though, is what form is best?

The most available options aside from simply eating fatty fish, leafy greens, or crustaceans 3 times per week is supplementation, but there are 2 widely-available forms of omega 3 fatty acids: fish oil and flaxseed oil. We’re going to discuss the benefits of each so that you’ll know which one is best for you.

Benefits of Fish Oil

Fish oils are typically derived from salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish. There are different types and quality levels but most available forms anymore are of fairly good quality. They contain significant amounts of EPA and DHA, arguably the 2 most important fatty acids that your body needs. As a matter of fact, about 8% of your brain is made up of DHA and DPA, so you can see why improved brain function may be one of the benefits of supplementing.

EPA is also what your body uses to create the substances that decrease inflammation and thus prevent diseases and illnesses.

Recommended daily dosages are about 300-500 combined mg of DHA and EPA for healthy adults and may be much higher for people who have had heart attacks. One 1000mg capsule of fish oil typically contains 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA which is exactly right, but make sure that you read the label.

The Down Side of Fish Oil

Though generally considered extremely safe, there are a few reasons why some people may prefer not to take fish oil. The first reason is that fish oil, obviously, is from an animal so it’s off limits to vegans. In that case, there are obvious reasons for taking flaxseed oil and seeking alternative food sources of EPA and DHA.

Another reason that some people don’t want to take a fish oil supplement as a source of omega 3 fatty acids is the possibility of exposure to mercury, radiation, and other toxins associated with carnivorous fish. Though many supplements claim to be free of these, there’s still a huge concern about whether or not the manufacturers are telling the truth.

You can always do the pin test on your fish oil if you’re worried about it: poke a hole in a few capsules and squeeze the liquid out into a thimble or some other small container and place it in the freezer for 5 hours. If, when you take it out, you can push a toothpick into the oil easily then you don’t need to worry about harmful levels of mercury or other heavy metals.

A final concern involves the process used to remove toxins and get rid of the fishy taste. Some people worry that the process will damage the oil or add harmful contaminants. If this is a concern for you, simply buy cold-pressed or unrefined fish oil.

Benefits of Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is a plant source of omega 3 fatty acids and contains the O-3 known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Your body needs this fatty acid to convert it into the other omega 3s that you need. The beautiful thing about the fact that your body converts the ALA into DHA, EPA, and other FA’s is that your body won’t produce more of any of them than you need. Also, if you get enough ALA then you don’t need any other source of omega 3s.

ALA also acts as a calming balm to linoleic acid (LA), its omega 6 counterpart that converts into other omega 6’s and stimulates the necessary reaction to stress and danger that keeps us alive. That is, if ALA is produced in the correct quantities. However, ALA poisons us with high blood pressure and inflammation when the levels get too high. As you can see, correct amounts of ALA are crucial to our well-being.

The Down Side of Flaxseed Oil

Therein lies the problem, though. The conversion process isn’t that efficient to begin with and becomes even less so as we age. The result is that you’ll need to consume about 5 times the amount of flaxseed oil as you would if you were also taking fish oil.

Final Word

We need the DHA and EPA in fish oil to help us fight disease, maintain healthy brain function, and perform numerous other functions. We need ALA so that our bodies can convert them into the other essential fatty acids that our bodies need.

We also need ALA to act as a counterbalance to LA in order to more efficiently avoid disease. The correct answer then, to the original question, “fish or flax” seems to be that you need both, as long as you don’t have any medical or moral reasons for taking one or the other.

To find the best deals on fish oil, click here.

To find the best deals on flaxseed oil, click here!

After you’ve gotten your fish oil and flaxseed oil, remember that in order to reap the most benefits from the supplements, you need to take them regularly. Happy supplementing!

If you prefer one or the other, or have started taking both, please tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

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