Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oil – Which is Better?

Are you looking for a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids and trying to decide between flaxseed oil or fish oil?

While they provide a source of healthy fats, research now shows that one of them is better utilized by your body than other….

Fish oils contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

Flax seed oil is one of the few plant-based sources of  alpha linolenic acid (ALA).

All three types of omega 3 fatty acids offer many health benefits, but are digested differently by your body…. 



What Happens When You Eat Flax Seed Oil?


When you eat flax seed oil, your body uses enzymes to convert the alpha linolenic acid (ALA) into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA.)

However, a study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research showed you can convert ALA to EPA, but your body has difficulty converting ALA into DHA.

And there is apparently a difference between how men and women can metabolize and convert flaxseed oil’s fatty acids.

Using radioactive substances, researchers were able to measure the conversion of alpha linolenic acid into EPA.

They found men convert 6 – 8% of ALA into EPA and only 0.1% is converted into DHA.

However, researchers discovered thatwomen can convert the ALA into DHA almost 90 times better than men.



Studies Show Women Digest Flaxseed Oil Better than Men


flaxseed oil vs fish oilScientists believe the estrogen in women allows them to convert ALA to DHA more effectively than men.

They think the reason is due to the female body’s biological demand for DHA during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Research shows there are many health benefits from fish oils during pregnancy including enhanced eye, hand and motor development, stronger immune system and better brain development for your baby.

Studies performed by other scientists have reached similar conclusions….

The conversion of ALA into EPA is low and can less than 5% if you eat a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids.



So What’s Better for You? Fish Oil or Flaxseed Oil?


When it comes to flax seed oil or fish oil, the research shows:

  • Fish oil is a natural source of both EPA and DHA
  • Flaxseed oil only supplies ALA and your body must convert it into EPA and DHA
  • Men can’t convert ALA into DHA very well (less than 0.1%)
  • Men only convert a small amount of ALA to EPA (about 6 – 8%)
  • Women’s bodies convert ALA to DHA almost 90 times more efficiently than men.

So if you’re a man, you may be better off using fish oils so your body gets the higher amount of DHA.

Women could use flaxseed oil as their bodies can apparently convert the ALA more efficiently than men.

This is supported by a study showing fish oils were better than flaxseed oil and olive oil for increasing omega 3 levels in adults with ADHD.

However, if you have an allergy to fish oils you can still use flax seed oil as a plant-source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Other food sources include walnuts, tofu, soybeans and certain vegetables, like winter squash.



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