What s the difference between fish oil and flax seed oil?
Flaxseed vs. Fish: Is the Omega-3 fats in fish the same as those found in flax?
The Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil are the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA docosahexaenoic acid) fatty acids and the Omega 3 fatty acids in flax seed / flax seed oil are the ALA (alpha linolenic acid) fatty acids, all of which are polyunsaturated. Flax and its oil are perhaps the most widely available botanical source of Omega−3. Flaxseed oil consists of approximately 55% of total oil as ALA.
The EPA and DHA are 20 and 22 carbons long respectively. The Omega-3s in flaxseed are 18 carbons long. Most Americans are Omega-3 deficient because of our over-processed diets, People need more Omega-3 fats in their diet, whether they come from fish or flax, but the key benefits come from EPA and DHA. The body has an ability to take the 18 carbon long Omega-3 from flaxseed and lengthen them into EPA and DHA. This conversion of 18 carbon long Omega-3 to EPA and DHA is not very efficient process.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for omega-3 fats, the two supplements are similar, but certainly not equal. It is however better to have the omega-3s from flaxseed than to not have any at all. It is worth mentioning here that flaxseed have other health attributes. It is an excellent source of lignan, a phytochemical that may have cancer protective effects. Flaxseed is also an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein and minerals.
Omega-3 fatty acids fall into two major categories: Plant derived (flax seed oil, yielding alpha linolenic acid or ALA) or marine derived (fish oil, yielding both EPA and DHA). The human conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is somewhat slow and can be inhibited by various conditions such as a diet high in linoleic acid (Omega-6), trans-fatty acids such as fast foods and baked goods, alcohol intake, certain health conditions, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies (B3, B6, C, zinc, magnesium). Fish, on the other hand, is a direct source of EPA and DHA. The general consensus is that only about 15% of ALA converts to EPA, and it may not convert to DHA at all.