Flax Vs. EPA-Which one has more therapeutic value?
Dr. Phil Maffetone - www.mafgroup.com
Many people ask the question: "Which omega-3 fat is better, flax or EPA fish oil?"
While for most people the answer is overwhelmingly, "fish oil," it's important to first understand the metabolism of omega-3 fats to comprehend why fish oil works better for most people.
Omega-3 fats in flax and other vegetable foods must be converted in the body to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) before becoming beneficial series-3 eicosanoids. It is these eicosanoids that provide the healthy benefits of regulating inflammation. Fish oil already contains EPA, but flax must be converted in the body.
However, the conversion process is a fairly complicated one, and without this conversion has much less therapeutic value. The conversion can be disrupted by stress and aging. It can be impeded by certain dietary factors such as trans fat, excess saturated fat, sugar, and other carbohydrates, or inadequate protein intake. Moreover, specific vitamins and minerals are required for the conversion of omega-3 fats to EPA. These include vitamins B6, C, E, niacin, and the minerals magnesium, calcium and zinc.
In the case of flax oil, conversion of alpha-linolenic acid in the oil to EPA is significantly less than a 1:1 ratio. Even if the necessary co-factors are present and all other conditions are right for every gram of EPA, it take 11 grams of ALA.
On the other hand, EPA fish oil derived from cold-water ocean fish already contains significant amounts of EPA, ready for the body to use immediately for making anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. The conversion process cannot be disrupted or hindered.
Knowing this, why would anyone choose flax oil over EPA fish oil? Some do so because they are vegetarians, and others because they have an aversion to fish. Those who choose flax must be very careful with their lifestyles and nutrition in order to realize the therapeutic value, and they also might need to take much larger doses than if they were taking fish oil.
Because so many people have learned that fish oil works better for them, MAF BioNutritionals has decided to discontinue Nature's Dose Anti-Inflammatory Flax Formula in favor of its more popular EPA version.