What is the difference between flax and fish oil?
Natural health supplements are becoming more and more popular. Due to the increasing demand by people wanting to become healthier.
Supplements have come a long way. In recent years and manufacturers are now able to produce 100% organic soft gels. They also produce tablets that contain high amounts of various vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
Two of the most popular dietary supplements are flaxseed oil and fish oil. They both have pros and cons that distinguish them.
You only have to search online for fish oil supplements. You will be inundated with dozens and dozens of different brands. Every person would have thought that with all these products available. Fish oil was the undisputed choice to meet your Omega 3 needs.
There’s no disputing we need more essential fatty acids in our diet. Medical authorities all agree on this and it has been subject to numerous health studies.
Omega 3 is made up of essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are called ‘essential’ fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized by the body’s tissue. In laymen’s terms it means the body cannot make these EFAs. They have to be consumed from foods or supplements.
Fish oil supplements all tout their amazing Omega 3 health benefits. However, fish oil does not contain essential fatty acids. It contains derivatives of it, in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
While these two components of Omega 3 are important. The body doesn’t need them in the incredibly high doses that are present in fish oil. Apart from the brain and nervous system, which make up only 3% of total body weight. There are normally only small, trace amounts of these derivatives in the plasma, cellular membranes, and tissues of the human body.
Fish oil supplements contain up to 500 times the amount the body would naturally produce. We simply don’t need this much in our system.
It also explains why fish oil supplements have consistently failed to treat cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as worsening diabetic patients by raising blood sugars and blunting the insulin response.
The big difference between fish oil and flaxseed oil is that flaxseed oil is made up primarily of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is one of the fatty acids that make up Omega 3. ALA is an essential fatty acid the body needs. ALA is the parent of EPA and DHA.
This is significant because although flaxseed oil doesn’t contain EPA and DHA, enzymes in the body can convert ALA into whatever amounts of EPA and DHA it needs.
This parent attribute gives flaxseed oil. The health benefits of the essential fatty acid – ALA, as well as the derivatives EPA and DHA, but in safer doses.
Fish oil, on the other hand, does not contain ALA (which is considered essential) and far too much EPA and DHA.
I have spent many hours researching the ongoing debate of flaxseed oil vs fish oil. Despite the evidence showing that flaxseed oil is the obvious choice between the two. It is hard to find information that explains why.
The fact that flaxseed oil is cheaper to produce and buy than fish oil might have something to do with it!
Here are my findings in a nutshell:
- Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acids that makeup Omega 3 and Omega 6 the body needs in the form of ALA.
- Fish oil contains just EPA and DHA – derivatives of ALA and in too high a dose.
- Flaxseed oil has a nutty taste – fish oil tastes.. of fish!
- Flaxseed oil is cheaper than fish oil.
- The benefits of flaxseed oil can also be obtained (albeit in smaller quantities) from flaxseeds, which have other health-promoting nutrients such as protein, fiber, lignans, and vitamins.