Q&A: Fish Oil Versus Flaxseed Oil
Q: Is there a difference in the omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and fish oil? Is one a better choice? — Melanie, Miami, FL
A: Both flaxseed oil and fish oil increase your levels of EPA and DHA, but they use different mechanisms to do so. The essential fatty acids that are derived from plants, such as flaxseed oil, are alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and linolenic (omega-6). Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is naturally converted into EPA and DHA by our bodies. But the conversion rates can vary for each individual. Many people tend to choose fish oil because it has a higher concentration of EPA and DHA and your body doesn't need to convert it.
In summary, both supplements provide important nutritional benefits. ALA promotes heart health and reduces inflammatory conditions. EPA helps support heart health, decrease inflammation, and improve cellular integrity. DHA supports memory and nervous-system functioning. The difference lies in the debate over the conversion rates for individuals with flaxseed oil
About The Author
Amanda Carlson-Phillips – Amanda Carlson-Phillips is the Vice President of Nutrition and Research of Athletes' Performance. As a registered dietitian, she has provided educational seminars and individual counseling to a variety of professional and elite sports organizations.