I never eat fish, so I worry about getting enough omega-3s. Before I start taking supplements, I wanted to know which is the better choice, flaxseed oil or fish oil capsules?
—Unsure About Omegas
I'm glad you're focusing on getting enough omega-3s, since this essential fatty acid is so beneficial to our health. These fats have anti-inflammatory and mood-stabilizing properties, can relieve chronic pain, have been found to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke, and can lower cholesterol.
In order to answer this question, we need to go over the three types of omega-3s:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Necessary for physical and mental health, this type is found primarily in fish and fish oil.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Especially important to your body and necessary for various bodily functions involving your brain, blood vessels, and immune system. It's found in shellfish, fish, and fish oil.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): This is the only omega-3 found in plants like flaxseeds, canola, soy, hemp seed, walnuts, and enhanced foods. When you consume ALA, your body converts it into EPA and then eventually into DHA.
Fish oil capsules contain both EPA and DHA, and flaxseed oil capsules contain ALA. Even though our bodies convert ALA into DHA and EPA, it's more beneficial to your body to consume EPA and DHA directly. If you have nothing against eating fish products, I'd opt for the fish oil capsules and look for the USP seal when shopping for supplements. One dose will only fulfill about half of your RDI of omega-3s though, so think about getting the rest from foods such as fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.