There is no more popular vegetarian source of omega-3 essential fatty acids than flaxseed oil, also known as flax oil. Flax oil benefits are greatest, however, when you pay attention to the other sources of fat in your diet.
Flaxseed Oil as a Source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids
Chief among flax oil benefits is its use as a source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, specially alpha-linoleic acid. But flaxseed oil is also a potent source of omega-6 essential fatty acids, in the form of linolenic acid. When it comes to flaxseed oil, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are both available in abundance, and in the optimum ratio for human health.
If you need to correct fatty acid imbalances caused by eating too much meat, too many fried foods, or too many chips and cookies, then you probably need a purely omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement like fish oil or microalgae. But if you are on a healthy, lower-fat diet and you just want to make sure you get enough omega-3's, flaxseed oil is an ideal supplement.
Should You Use Flaxseed or Flaxseed Oil Capsules?
Both flaxseeds and flaxseed oil capsules are loaded with nutrition, but it's a lot easier to get the benefits of the capsule form of flaxseed. That's because flaxseeds eaten whole often pass right through the stomach and the bowel without ever being digested.
Flaxseed oil in a bottle is also a good way to get essential fatty acids, but it's very important to keep the bottle closed between uses and stored in the refrigerator. Keeping the flaxseed oil out of heat and light keeps it from oxidizing, losing its antioxidant power.
How Many Flaxseed Oil Capsules Should I Take?
The human body has to convert the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in flaxseed oil into the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosahexaenoic acid (EPA) it needs to fight inflammation. Only about 10 per cent of the ALA in flaxseed oil is ever converted into DHA and EPA. That means that you need about 10 times as much flaxseed oil as fish oil to get the same amount of DHA and EPA into your system.
If you need just a small dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids to maintain your health, just enough for you body to make about half a gram of DHA and EPA every day, then you may be able to get buy with just 10 or 12 flaxseed oil capsules a day.
If you needed a 5-gram dose of DHA and EPA every day for a specific health condition, then you'd need 50 or 60 flaxseed oil capsules a day, and that's not very practical.
If you need a higher dosage of omega-3 essential fatty acids and you want to use flaxseed oil, then you need to get bottled flaxseed oil and use that oil to make fruit smoothies or add it to cooked breakfast cereal.
What Kind of Flaxseed Oil Should I Look For?
Toxins are concentrated in fat. That's why you want to make sure any brand of flaxseed oil you buy is made from organic flaxseed.
Fats are destroyed by bleaching and deodorants. That's why you want to look for cold-pressed flaxseed oil that is not treated with chemical additives.
Toxins in plastic leach into oil. Any brand of liquid flaxseed oil you buy should be bottled in glass containers. And the best quality flaxseed oil products are kept in the refrigerator case at the store until they are bought or shipped.
- D. Berab, D. Lahirib and A. Naga (June 2006). "Studies on a natural antioxidant for stabilization of edible oil and comparison with synthetic antioxidants". Journal of Food Engineering 74 (4): 542–545.