A reader asked why Sally-Ann recommended the use of fish oil rather than flax oil to supplement your body’s omega resources. Here is her answer:
Although flaxseed oil is often touted, even by some doctors, as a substitute for fish oil, new studies show it’s not a reliable alternative. It’s true that both provide omega-3 fatty acids, but flaxseed oil has short-chain fatty acids (alpha linolenic acid), that theoretically, the body converts into longchain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, identical to those preformed in fish.
Experts credit EPA and DHA as the active components of fish oil that strengthen hearts and brains at all ages. However, the conversion of flaxseed oil’s short-chain omega-3 to long-chain omega-3 found in fish is unreliable and inefficient, say new tests.
This is especially true for the ‘brain booster’ DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), credited with giving baby brains higher IQs and protecting aging brains from memory loss and Alzheimer’s. A new Emory University study found that taking high daily doses of flaxseed oil (3,000 mg alpha linolenic acid) caused no increase at all of omega-3 DHA in the blood of subjects.
Flaxseed oil did spur the synthesisof EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), fish oil’s other important omega-3 fatty acid. Similarly, feeding animals alpha-linolenic acid, as found in flaxseed oil, did not increase DHA in their brain cells, according to research at the National Institutes of Health.
New British research says high doses of flaxseed oil may even cause a decrease in omega-3 DHA and that flaxseed oil does not adequately nourish fetal brains. University of Southampton researchers concluded that ‘preformed DHA and EPA in fish oil are essential to maintain optimal tissue function and that flaxseed falls short.
It is a ‘limited source’ of longchain omega-3 fatty acids, especially in men, who are less apt than women to convert flaxseed oil to EPA or DHA, they declared. As far as taking flaxseed oil to boost omega-3 for nursing babies, it doesn’t work, say Oregon Health and Science University researchers. Daily doses of 20 grams of flaxseed oil did not increase the amount of DHA in women’s breast milk! At best, only 10% of the flaxseed oil you consume (some studies say less) converts to long-chain EPA and DHA fatty acids, says leading expert Artemis Simopoulos, MD., president of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health.
Grapeseed oil is a little too high in omega-6 fatty acids which is so inflammatory! It would be better to use a coconut or olive oil.
- Read more by clinical nutritionalist Sally-Ann Creed.