Which Is Better: Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oil?

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  • 03 Apr 2024
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Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in both flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids have several proven health benefits, including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, glaucoma, and stroke. This nutrient is necessary for the body's function, yet our bodies cannot create it on their own. That is why you should supplement your diet with Omega-3 fatty acids. 

In this essay, I'll go over the differences between flaxseed oil and fish oil, as well as their benefits and cons, to help you make an informed decision about which one is best for you.


Are These Supplements Safe?

According to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of fish oil supplement consumers have minor adverse effects. Side effects may include an unpleasant taste, foul breath, headaches, and stomach issues. This could include symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn.

Fish oil supplements may interfere with medications that many Americans take to avoid blood clotting. If you are using any of these medications or have a seafood allergy, you should see your doctor before starting Omega-3 supplements.

According to Mayo Clinic, flaxseed oil supplements are generally regarded safe. However, they report that if used in excess and without adequate water intake, users may develop a variety of gastrointestinal issues. Symptoms include bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also warn against taking these supplements while pregnant. This is because some research indicates that eating flaxseed oil later in pregnancy may raise the chance of premature birth.

According to Mayo Clinic, flaxseed oil, like fish oil supplements, may interact negatively with some drugs. It's crucial to check your doctor before starting these medications, especially if you're on medications to prevent blood clotting, lower blood pressure, or control your diabetes, because these may interact poorly with a flaxseed oil supplement.


How Much Should You Take?

The hard part about these supplements is that there is no universally accepted dosage for any of them. To be safe, check the label of the supplement you want to buy and only take the suggested dosage. 

Whether you're taking fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements, consult with your primary care doctor to discover the best dosage for you. They may be able to work with you to determine an appropriate dosage, which may help to avoid undesirable side effects. 

The Dietary Supplement Label Database from the National Institutes of Health can help you study a specific brand of Omega-3 supplement.


Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil

Before we get into the numerous benefits of Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil supplements, it's vital to understand some fundamentals regarding Omega-3 fatty acids. 

There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are primarily derived from fish, whereas ALA is primarily derived from plants such as flaxseed and walnuts. This means that if you take a fish oil supplement, you will get DHA and EPA, whereas a flaxseed oil supplement will provide you ALA.


Fish Oil Benefits

Fish oil supplements often comprise oil derived from fatty fish such as herring, tuna, and anchovies. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely beneficial to our heart health. It can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots.It can also assist to lower hypertension, which is common among adults in the United States.


They can also help reduce high cholesterol and plaque buildup in your arteries.They can also help minimize the risk of sudden cardiac death, which occurs when the heart pumps irregularly or ineffectively, preventing blood from reaching the rest of your important organs. 

These supplements may have non-cardiac advantages as well. According to studies, they can lower your risk of developing glaucoma, certain malignancies, and mental health conditions.

Some studies have also showed that incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil in your lifestyle may result in enhanced weight loss when combined with a healthy diet.


Flaxseed Oil Benefits

As previously mentioned, flaxseed oil contains the third form of Omega-3 fatty acid, Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). What the body does with ALA is quite intriguing. It really transforms it to DHA and EPA, the Omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil.

However, it is vital to note that the body's conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is not very efficient. This indicates that the advantages of ALA may differ from those obtained by consuming only DHA and EPA. Overall, studies appear to be split on whether flaxseed oil gives the same cardiac advantages as fish oil. It's unknown whether flaxseed oil supplementation can lower cholesterol or lessen your risk. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that flaxseed may assist people with type 2 diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels. However, it is vital to emphasize that these findings only apply to flaxseed and not flaxseed oil. The NIH acknowledges that it is unclear if flaxseed oil would give such a benefit.

One significant health benefit of flaxseed oil is its potential cancer-fighting properties. Flaxseed oil has been found in studies to inhibit cancer cell development and cause apoptosis, or cell death, in certain kinds of cancer. One study indicated that the forms of cancer that experienced benefits from flaxseed oil intakes were breast cancer, cervical cancer, leukemia, and melanoma.


Flaxseed Oil Vs Fish Oil: Which Should You Take?

When selecting whether to take flaxseed oil or fish oil supplements, there are several factors to consider. As previously noted, fish oil supplements are an excellent source of DHA and EPA. In contrast, flaxseed oil supplements contain ALA, which the body eventually converts back to DHA and EPA, albeit inefficiently.

Furthermore, the benefits of fish oil appear to be more thoroughly researched and proven than the benefits of flaxseed oil. Fish oil supplements have been found to have numerous benefits, including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, certain malignancies, and a variety of mental health issues.

In comparison, research into the effects of flaxseed oil supplementation is limited. While these supplements may have anti-cancer capabilities, the research on any additional benefits 

In terms of safety, these two supplements come out rather evenly. Both are regarded as generally safe. However, both interact with a variety of drugs, which must be considered before beginning supplementation. 

If you're looking for an Omega-3 supplement, I'd recommend fish oil over flaxseed oil. Fish oil has numerous documented benefits, however studies on flaxseed oil is far less convincing. Fish oil also provides EPA and DHA directly, eliminating the need for your body to do further conversions.

If you decide to take a fish oil supplement, you can reduce your risk of a variety of chronic diseases with no effort on your part. As usual, consult your doctor before starting any supplementation to avoid negative side effects or drug interactions.


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