2

I was comparing sources of omega-3.

Supplements:

  • 0.75 g * 180 / $ 21.96 = 6.1 g/$ (here)
  • 0.75 g * 120 / $ 25.62 = 3.5 g/$ (here)
  • 1.40 g * 90 / $ 28.47 = 4.4 g/$ (here) (label is per 2 capsules)
  • 0.45 g * 60 / $ 33.65 = 0.8 g/$ (here) (vegan)

Flax seed:

  1. Flax seed oil has 6.388 g/tbsp Omega-3, according to Wikipedia (here) (2 tbsp/oz).
  2. Virgin flax seed oil costs around 0.34 $/oz (here) or 0.66 $/oz (here).
  3. So 1 oz contains 12.8 g omega-3 for 0.34 $, or 38.0 g/$.

My question then is, can I just use flax seed oil, or am I over-simplifying this?

1

The omega-3 fatty acids with potential health benefits are EPA and DHA found in fish and fish oil.

The omega-3 in flaxseed is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and there seems to be insufficient evidence about their effectiveness in preventing heart disease, for example.

It is true that ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA in your body, but this conversion is very poor.

NutrientsReview:

...alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from flaxseed, walnuts and soybeans is much less effective in preventing heart disease than fish oil, which contains EPA and DHA.

There is also some concern that ALA supplements might be associated with an increased risk of cancer, according to The Journal of Nutrition, while according to another source (PubMed) it is not.

  • The PubMed link actually seems to say there is NO effect of ALA on prostate cancer. I was aware of prostate cancer uncertainty in relation to omega-3, but didn't know it was specific to ALA, so this is interesting. – Mark Dec 8 '16 at 10:20
  • NutrientsReview is interesting too, besides the mentioned downsides it says some, but not all, studies have shown that a diet high in ALA might be heart-protective for those who rarely eat fish, so fish is preferable (but ALA may be an alternative for vegetarians or people who dislike fish). But indeed, a gram of flax seed omega-3 is not equal to a gram of EPA/DHA supplement. – Mark Dec 8 '16 at 10:23
  • @Mark, correct, in the PubMed article, there is no association with prostate cancer; I edited. ALA supplements or flaxseed seem to be very poor source of omega-3, not because of the amount of ALA, but because of poor conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA . OK, claims about ALA are not conclusive. Search: flaxseed + desired effect + "systematic review". I was researching this and found no convincing benefits of flaxseed except laxative effects. Properly designed vegetarian diet without fish and omega-3 supplements can be just fine and some studies say it can be even better than a mixed diet. – Jan Dec 8 '16 at 12:28

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