Fish Oils versus Flaxseed Oil

Original Question: ‘….what is the difference in effect (if any) between taking 1tbsp of Flaxseed Oil daily and taking 1000mg of Fish oil daily. As far as I can gather they both contain Omega 3. Which is the best? ‘

………This question has always been one open to controversy and I have heard many arguments for and against.
My own personal point of view is that both Omega 3and Omega 6 can be obtained from the diet IF the diet is high in fresh nuts, seeds and oils and IF fish is included on a regular basis (2-3 times weekly at least).

The diet does have to be balanced in this respect, as high amounts of Omega 3 are found in the oil of fatty fish while little Omega 3 is found in nuts and seeds.
Therefore a diet that does not include sufficient sea foods can well be deficient in Omega 3 and a refined diet can be very deficient in both.

This is where supplementation with oil such as Flaxseed oil can be important as Flaxseed
oil is a relatively rich source of Omega 3 as well as Omega 6.
However Omega 3 from a seed oil source will be in the form of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body has to convert to eicosapenfaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
There has been speculation as to the body’s ability to make this conversion, as it requires an adequate intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin B3 and B6 as well as adequate magnesium and zinc.
Also factors such as stress, alcohol intake, diabetes and smoking all mean that conversion is not optimum.

A recent article stated that ideally to provide 500mg of EPA/DHA, using a conversion rate of 3-10% you would need between 1 and 3 tbsps (16-52gm) of flaxseed oil daily. Women are thought to make this conversion more efficiently than men, however still need a reasonable amount.
I also read somewhere that if using ground fresh Flaxseeds as an alternative to flaxseed oil, you would need approximately 3tbsp of dry seed to obtain 1tbsp of oil, alot of seeds, at
least you wouldn’t be short of fibre!

Omega 3 from a fish oil source will already be in the form of EPA and DHA so therefore does not have to be converted by the body. One fillet of an oily fish should supply about 30% fish oil. This is quite sufficient if eaten regularly. The actual amount of oil will vary depending on species and the amount consumed.

As for the recommended amounts, healthy adults need about 300-500mg daily of EPA/DHA combined. About 1000mg fish oil.
People with diabetes, heart disease or osteoarthritis could take twice this amount. It is
not a good idea to take more than this as over dosing can cause problems.

Ideally an additional 800-100mg ALA should be consumed as the body needs this to make other Omega 3s. This is generally well supplied by a good diet as 1tbsp of canola oil supplies about 1600mg, and 1oz of walnuts 2700mg, 1tbsp of soybean oil about 1000mg, other nuts and seeds all contain some in varying amounts. 1tbsp of flaxseed oil would contain about 8000mg of ALA .

Which is best? Both have benefits. It depends on your diet as to if or how much you need in way of supplementation. I generally advise extra fish oil (1000mg) if the diet is devoid of sea foods and/or extra Vitamin A required and advise Flaxseed oil if a person is resistant to taking fish oil.
I have found repeatedly that supplementing regularly with either 1-2tbsp of Flaxseed oil OR 1000mg fish oil will generally ease the ‘creakiness’ in a month or so.
It is more difficult to determine the state of a person’s blood flow or arteries, but sometimes people will report that veins are less distended and hands/feet warmer after several months of supplementation.

Also, if buying Fish oils make sure that what you but is FRESH.
If your capsulated fish oil tastes fishy or you burp fishy ‘burps’ then it is oxidised, not fresh and neither does it absorb very well.
If you are not sure, pierce the capsule with a pin and taste the oil.

I have available in the clinic brands that have Vitamin E added to prevent oxidation, are emulsified to aid better absorption and are made to a much higher concentration
so that dosage is lower. These brands are also checked rigorously for environmental pollutants.
Go to On-line shop for Flaxseed oil or EPA/DHA.