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Forums: January 2012 Kickstart Forum: Confused about flax
Created on: 01/06/12 07:14 AM Views: 1157 Replies: 4
Confused about flax
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 at 7:14 AM

I have heard so many differering opinions about flax. My doctor has prescribed very high DHA/DEA fish oil capsules to be taken twice a day due to family history of heart disease and a cholesterol level of 228. I believe I am having side effects from the capsules. I use flaxmeal in my cereal in the mornings but a dietitian told me once that the omega 3's are not the same in flaxmeal as in fish oil; not as useful to the body. Even a Google search pulls up differing results. I sure would love to quit taking these capsules. Does anyone else take fish oil or have any insight or know of a reliable study about fish oil?

RE: Confused about flax
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9:10 AM

I doubt you'll find a perfect, scientifically satisfactory answer out there. From what little I've read there are two types of Omega-3s, ALA and DHA. DHA is the kind that comes from animal sources and is what allegedly your body uses most readily. ALA comes from the plant sources like Flax Seeds/Oil. Evidently, your body can convert ALA into DHA, but at a low conversion rate. So...it may mean you can do the Flax thing, but may need a higher dose than the fish oil.

You may want to research ALA to DHA conversion rates.

BTW...the same goes for Chia seeds, but they have the advantage of not having to be ground for easier digestion and use of the Omegas.

However, you might need to focus on the oil to get the most you can.

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RE: Confused about flax
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Hi. A couple of things come to mind. One is that when you start eating a vegan diet, low in fat, your cholesterol is going to drop naturally, from reduced intake of saturated fats, eliminated intake of dietary cholesterol, and higher intakes of fiber which pull out excess cholesterol. You are going to reverse damage done to your arteries and prevent further build up as well. All of this eliminates the need to supplement with DHA/EPA, regardless of the source.

If your physician insists you need a DHA/EPA supplement, then you may want to consider one made from algae. These are available online and in some health food stores.

I always say that our focus with omega-3 is a little off the ideal course of action. As Americans, we tend to consume so much fat (mostly in the form of omega-6s) that our omega-3s (naturally occurring in plants) can't impart their anti-inflammatory benefits. The ratio is the key. But let me suggest that instead of jacking up the 3s, reduce all fats to get a healthier proportion of 6s to 3s.

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Confused about flax
Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Also, this has a lot of information about fish in general, citing several research studies:

http://pcrm.org/health/reports/fish

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Confused about flax
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 9:26 PM

That article on fish said everything I have always thought about fish, including the mercury. Dr. Michael Greger (nutritionfacts.org), in a podcast I listened to, said that the sea is the "sewer" of the world and it isn't just the mercury that is harmful, there are many other elements in fish that are detrimental to health.

After reading your posts I have decided to discontinue the fish oil capsules just because I am having some non-specific GI symptoms that may be from the capsules. I have just switched insurance companies and am seeing a new physician week after next. I will discuss the fish oil with her.

Thank you for taking the time to post about the flax, it was very helpful!


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