Consumers have been debating the merits of fish oil versus flax oil for years. Some believe a fish oil supplement is better while others think that flax seed is more useful. We know that both have omega 3 fatty acids in them. Everyone agrees on how essential they are to our health. The debate is over whether the omega 3s from flax oil are as efficient as those derived from fish oil.
There are three omega 3s in this discussion. Flax oil contains ALA while fish oil has EPA and DHA. The story behind these three is more complicated.
ALA, found in the chloroplasts of green leaves, is the most abundant fat on earth. Green leaves are not known for being fatty but there is more green vegetation on earth than anything else.
Animals eat the green leaves. Their bodies convert the ALA into DHA and EPA and it accumulates in their tissues. Predators eat the omega 3 rich animals and become rich in DHA and EPA themselves. This, in turn, was a great omega 3 source for humans.
Think of it this way. ALA is the parent and DHA and EPA are the children. For humans, it is the children that provide all the health benefits to the heart, brain, eyes, skin and joints.
This worked fine up until the 20th century. However, most health professionals now think that EPA and DHA deficiencies are the biggest nutritional problem facing the Western world.
What went wrong?
Our diet changed. There are numerous reasons but here are just a few.
Modern farming methods are capable of delivering huge amounts of food to an ever growing population. The downside is that these foods have lost much of their nutritional value.
A recent Canadian study researched 25 fruits and vegetables [potatoes, apples, tomatoes etc.]. They found that levels of basic nutrients like calcium, Vitamins A, C and various B complex vitamins had dropped dramatically the past 50 years. For example, potatoes have lost 50% of its riboflavin and 57% of its Vitamin C and iron.
This is fairly well known, which is why so many people take multivitamin supplements. What is not so well known is that food manufacturers have been removing omega 3s even more quickly. The reason is that omega 3s oxidize quickly. This means a shorter shelf life – a no-no in the highly processed modern supermarket.
Another reason is us. The animals that I mentioned earlier no longer eat greens. They are fed grain products. The DHA and EPA in the beef we eat now exists in much smaller amounts. In addition, our diet does not have much flax oil or seafood in it. We eat various other vegetable oils derived from corn, soy, canola and so on. Result – much less omega 3s.
What do we do?
Educated consumers are looking for answers. Many of them know that they are omega 3 deficient. The remaining choices are these – eat lots of flax seeds, fish or greens like spinach.
Here are the problems. According to the FDA and others, eating too much fish is unhealthy because of all the contaminants in them. Few people want to eat large quantities of organic spinach every day. Flax oil is not as good for you as flax seeds and you should not be taking flax for the omega 3s anyway. It is too inefficient. Remember, ALA is the parent, not the children.
Wait, you say. What about the animals that eat green vegetation that I mentioned earlier? They convert the ALA. Yes, but they literally eat tons of greens. In these amounts, even a small conversion rate results in enough EPA and DHA. Humans do not consume anywhere near the amount of greens we need.
We need to find the EPA and DHA someplace else. Because fish, flax oil and greens all have issues, omega 3 fish oil products become the best choice. A word of warning. There is a lot of junk out there. For more information in this area, please visit my website.
Get my free five-part mini course on the benefits of omega 3, including critical information on why you should take omega3 fish oil. To sign up for the course and get more tips on the importance of omega 3, visit my website: http://www.omega-3-guide.com/
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