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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Flax Versus Fish: How Do Different Omega-3 Sources Compare?

Mar 31, 2016 07:28PM

Reading about omega-3 in health magazines and in the news, we often get the impression that there are several ways to get these essential fatty acids—through salmon, flaxseed and walnuts, for example. But, not all these sources provide the same value. 

Omega-3 is a family of fat molecules. Only fatty fish and breast milk contain all the different members of this omega-3 family including the best known EPA and DHA molecules. Conversely, plant sources of omega-3, like flaxseed or chia seeds, contain only one type of omega-3—ALA.  

In order for the ALA molecules to be effective in the fight against inflammation, they must be elongated to EPA and DHA. This conversion step is more difficult and limited than most people realize. For example, you’d need to drink about a cup of flaxseed oil to consume one teaspoon worth of EPA. This is why eating fatty fish or taking cod liver oil is more effective than flaxseed in fighting inflammation. This is also why the vast majority of omega-3 research has been conducted on fatty fish and fish oil.  


This excerpt comes from the article, “12 Myths about Omega-3 Fish Oil.” To read more, visit For more information, call 941-485-4400, email [email protected] or visit 

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