Flax seed oil is the highest natural vegetable source of omega –3 EFAs with 57%, it also contains about 16% Omega 6 EFAs. Although Flax seed oil and Fish oil stem from the Same Omega 3 EFA family, they behave quite differently in the human body. Flax seed oil contains Linolenic Acid (LNA), whereas fish oil contains Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are derivatives of LNA. The relationship between LNA and DHA/EPA is similar to that between beta-carotene and vitamin A. Beta- carotene is a precursor for vitamin A and is non-toxic even when taken in large amounts. When this happens, the only consequence is the appearance of a harmless orange colour in one’s skin pigmentation. The body will store beta carotene until it is required, then convert it into vitamin A. When an individual takes in vitamin A The body is forced to use it in that form. Therefore, when consumed in large quantities, vitamin A can become toxic (1). The body reacts in a similar manner to LNA and EPA/DHA. Even though the body can rapidly convert LNA to EPA and DHA (within 20 minutes), it only does so when needed. Ingestion of Omega 3 in the form of EPA and DHA (fish oils) can have an almost drug-like action. This is because it bypasses the body’s metabolic cycle and performs functions such as reducing platelet stickiness and increasing bleeding time with little metabolic control from the body, particularly when taken in large dosages. An individual with a cut or wound, who consumes large amounts of fish oil (DHA and EPA) can have problems with bleeding time, hence it takes longer for the blood to clot. Also, some studies show when fish oil is taken in conjunction with aspirin (2) or by diabetics (3), who have a delicate balance to maintain, adverse effects can occur. On the other hand, Flax seed oil Omega 3 (LNA) exists in precursor form, which the body can store until required. The body can control its utilization of LNA more easily than EPA/DHA. Flax seed oil is safe even for babies and especially important for development of their Nervous system and brain. Flax seed oil is best taken in conjunction with food such as Fresh garlic, onions, yogurt, quark, tofu or soymilk. Advantages flax seed oil has over fish oil:
• a more pleasant (nutty) taste and smell • natural higher Omega 3 concentration • flax seed oil turns rancid less often • there is no danger of overdosing from flax seed oil, because it is not in pre-digested form.
Always look for Virgin – cold pressed oil, which should be kept in a fridge and away from light.
Literature Sharman, IM, Hypercarotenaemia. Dr Med J 290, 1985:95-96 Brody, J, Is your healthy diet making you sick? Family Circle 6/25/91: 53-54 Axelrod, L, Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Diabetes Mellitus, Diabetes 38, May 1989: 539-543 Rudin, D & Felix, C, The Omega 3 Phenomenon. Rawson Associates, New York, NY, 1987:231
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