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Flax vs. Fish Oil

by Anthea Torr

FILED IN: Health and Food · Issue 13

In his book, Omega-3 Oils: A Practical Guide, Dr Rudin points out that most Omega-3 studies are based on fish oil.

Rudin finds this disappointing, as he has had better results with flax seed oil in his own studies.

This may be because flax seed oil starts with the plant form of linolenic acid, ALA (alpha linolenic acid), whereas fish oil contains the animal form, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The body makes its own DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) from ALA.

Although some claim that the amount of DHA made is small, the body doesn’t need much DHA. Most DHA is contained in cell membranes, and is held there with little replacement. In contrast, ALA — and the compounds made from it — are also needed in the body for a number of essential functions.

Fish oil cannot provide ALA, and therefore deprives the consumer of this critical compound. Some people feel that they need DHA or EPA as a supplement, and that’s their personal choice.

However, most sources covering the different types of oil indicate that plant-based Omega-3s, or ALA, is the better choice.

Flax oil
Has been used for thousands of years in humans and proven safe

Contains no cholesterol

Cold pressed and no chemical solvents use for extraction

Naturally contains lecithin and Vitamin E needed to help the body proves essential fats

You obtain the ‘parent’ Omega 3 or ALA needed fro your body to make 5 different derivatives including EPA and DHA

No truth to the rumour that Flax oil causes prostate problems. The very research people claim says this actually state that Flax reduces your chances of prostate problems, but that Omega 3 and derivatives from heated sources like mayonnaises, salad dressings and beef, lamb and pork increase your risk.

Never contains heavy metals if organically grown

Contains lignans known to lower hormone dependent cancers like breast, endometrial and prostate cancer

Flax oil can last up to 6 months if kept in a cool dark place, the EPA and DHA made by the body is at its freshest and you only make what you need

Organically grown, not detrimental to environment

Fish oil
Only in use since early 1980s so no long term research on real people in a natural environment

Contains cholesterol

Heated and chemical solvents used to extract oils. Heated Omega 3 fats are carcinogenic

Contains no lecithin or Vitamin E naturally so processed versions need to be added

You only get 2 derivatives EPA and DHA and only time will tell what missing the others does.

Some research that fish oil promotes breast cancer Journal of American Medical Association 281 (1999)

Can be high in heavy metals like mercury

Contains no lignans

Deteriorates rapidly after death and should be eaten in the fish, in its raw state within a few hours of death The fish’s death that is!)

Seems bizarre to be killing fish to extract oil when people would do better to actually eat the fish, would contribute to environmental strain


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