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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is Flax Oil better for the Brain than Fish oil?

Please go here first and listen and view this interview between two competing viewpoints.  Then read on......

"In an interview on TV3 this morning, Professor Phillip Calder made a number of points about flax oil which need clarification.

There are several factors operating which the proponents of fish oil, like Prof Calder, are either not aware of or choose to ignore - (its all in the medical literature so take your pick).
Conversion - the Omega-3 in flax oil (ALA) is the primary essential fatty acid that the body can not make - you must obtain it from your food.

A healthy body can convert all it needs to the secondary Omega-3's (EPA and DHA) found in fish oil. A very common argument is that humans can only convert 3 - 5% of the ALA to EPA and even less to DHA, because this is the change measured in the blood levels of EPA and DHA after supplementing with ALA.

In recent research, where a group of healthy individuals were supplemented with flax oil, the levels of DHA in the brain increased, even though there was no change in the amount of DHA circulating in the blood.

It has also been shown that young women can convert up to 20 times more than young men (so that they can grow their baby with a healthy brain perhaps?).

So the latest research is suggesting that the body makes the amount of secondary Omega-3's it needs, at the site where the body needs it - aren’t our bodies clever (which explains why the studies measuring blood levels do not tell the full story).

Balance - the human body evolved having approx. equal amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 (which we get from all the common oils except olive and avocado) in our diet. It is only since the advent of industrial oil production in the last 50 years that this has changed to the point where, those on a typical Western diet are now consuming (and contain in their body) around 15 - 20 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3.

This has profound implications for your health - the consensus from a recent major scientific conference on the subject is that the optimum ratio of Omega-6: Omega-3 is about 2 - 3 or less. "A higher omega-6/omega-3 ratio is associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease, colorectal cancer, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, and neurodegenerative diseases, and various aspects of mental illness, violent behaviour, and deficient cognition in both children and the elderly." (Simopoulos AP 2008)

While taking a few fish capsules a day will have some impact on your health, this is not going to correct this major imbalance - getting some fresh flax seed oil into your diet is the most practical way to correct this imbalance.

Quality and Regulation – Functional Whole Foods New Zealand Ltd flax seed products are manufactured as foods, so are very tightly regulated in terms of labelling and quality control procedures. In contrast, Fish Oil products are classified as supplements and at this stage are very loosely regulated, so it is very hard for the consumer to establish which are quality products that have been decontaminated."

David Musgrave, Owner, Functional Whole Foods New Zealand Limited
The fishing industry is massive as compared to the minnow flax oil industry with the result that the fish friendly research and publicity machines totally dominate.  Flax hardly gets a look in as the fishing behemoth gobbles all the professorial krill.

Flax oil is envronmentally friendly, whereas the fishing industry is probably the most destructive industry on the planet, competing for first place alongside the arms, pertoleum and rain forest logging industries.  Fish farming is one of the worst and much of the fish oil comes from this source.  Of course there are environmentally sustainable fishing setups but where do you find them?  How do you know where the fish oil really comes from?

You can make a start by getting and reading the compelling and entertaining book, "Bottom Feeder" by Taras Grescoe (ISBN-10 1-59691-225-1).  This is the book the fishing industry and many politicians do not want you to read!

While I do sell fish oil, I am trying to source ethical sources and I do prefer that my customers spend their money on delicious and much better value flax oil that is every bit as good for your family.  Best of all, New Zealand Waihi Bush Flax Oil Blends

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1 comment:

Wayne said...

omega three from vegetable sources still has to go through a conversion process to convert it to DHA which is the version the body needs which is in fish oil, the converstion process is inefficient and as little as 5% of the amount of DHA is converted from evegetable sourced omega 3, depending on the person.