Experts are in agreement about the vast benefits to health from omega 3 fatty acid supplements. Omega 3 fats have been shown to be helpful in boosting immune function, reversing heart disease, fighting aging related degenerative disease, helping improve fertility, improving mental health and promoting healthier skin.
But when it comes to the debate of fish oil vs flax seed oil, there is more confusion and controversy that leaves observers worried about making the wrong choice. So let’s look at the essential difference between plant and animal sources of Omega 3 before addressing the fish oil vs flax seed oil question directly.
Where can you get omega 3 fats?
Omega 3 is plentiful in wild plants and wild game. Plant sources like flax seed oil and linseed oil, fatty wild fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines and in lesser amounts in walnuts, hemp seeds, green leafy vegetables and soya oil are all rich omega 3 sources.
Fish Oil Advantages
Fish sources of omega 3 have some advantages over plant sources like flax seed oil. Fish is a better source of long chain omega 3 fatty acids like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaneoic acid), both of which are necessary for healthy functioning and development. No plant source provides significant long-chain fatty acids.
DHA is important for heart health and specifically essentially in brain development of fetuses and newborn babies, making up 30% of the brain’s cortex and 15-20% of the eye’s retina.
Fish oil omega 3 fatty acids help to prevent prostate cancer, a benefit not available from plant sources of omega 3. Okinawan elders, who boast of the world’s lowest rates of cancer of the prostate, get omega 3 in abundance from the wild fish they consume.
Flax Seed Oil Benefits
An alternative for your omega 3 requirements is to take ample amounts of ground linseeds or flax seed oil in your diet. Plant sources, however, are a poorer source of long chain omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA. Supplementary DHA derived from algae is also available as a commercial product, as Omega Zen-3.
Unfortunately, while natural fish is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, it also increasingly contains pollutants and heavy metals like mercury.
In a landmark 2002 study on middle-class families in San Francisco Bay area who ate fish for health, it was found that those eating swordfish, sea bass, halibut and ahi tuna steaks had dangerous concentrations of mercury in their blood – that dropped when they stopped eating fish!
This is why pharmaceutical sources of fish oil are more attractive as health supplements, as these sources are purified and most contaminants are filtered out effectively.
The Safe Alternative
An option that lets you to benefits from these health supplements, without the risks, is to take fish oil capsules. 3 grams a day of fish provides 1 gram of D.H.A. and E.P.A., which is all you need.
Several brands use oil from fish caught in the cleanest and coldest waters, preferably those far from commercial shipping lines and industrialized countries where the highest risk of water contamination by wastes exists.
Making fish oil capsules even safer is the practice of molecular distillation, a process that removes any mercury or other heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs and other contaminants.
So instead of worrying about the flaxseed oil vs fish oil debate, why not consider the ‘safe alternative’ – pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements?