FAQ: Should I take fish or flaxseed oil supplements?
There are solid health benefits attributable to both fish and flaxseed oils. The omega 3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), in flaxseed oil is entirely different from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fish oil. It is ideal to consume fish and flaxseed as whole foods rather than supplements so that you receive the benefits from the oils as well as the other nutrients found in these foods. In addition to the omega-3 fatty acids, fish provides high quality protein, and flaxseed has lignans and fibre. However, fish and flaxseed oil supplements are good alternatives if the whole foods are not an option due to allergies, taste preference, or convenience. Contamination of fish oils is less of a concern these days with modern refining practices. Good fish oil supplements actually are safer to consume than whole fish which have detectable levels of heavy metals and other contaminants. Extraction of oils from fish eliminates water-soluble heavy metals. For most people there is value to consuming both plant (ALA) and animal (EPA and DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, either from the whole foods or supplements.