Fish oil is superior to fish because our fish supply is mostly contaminated with mercury and PCB’s (cancer causing chemicals). The fish oil supplement you take must be tested for contamination and must go through a molecular distillation process, or you risk doing a lot of damage to yourself.
Flax seeds do not offer the same active ingredients as Fish oil. Flax contains a short chain Omega-3 fatty acid named ALA, but no EPA or DHA which are long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids. The body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but this is a difficult and inefficient conversion.
Fish oil has repeatedly been shown to help the learning ability of children. This probably due to the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Interestingly, one of those omega-3’s is DHA which is found in a human mother’s milk.
An English study is following 60 infants aged 20-36 months. The infants are supplemented daily with fish oil. They have found that in only 3 months learning skill performance of 60% of the infants “has improved dramatically”. Some of these children have made up a 6 month deficit in learning skills in just those three months.
Another study recruited pregnant women aged 18-40 who planned on breast-feeding exclusively for four months. The control group received capsules of vegetable oil and the remaining women received fish oil capsules daily after they had given birth. Babies whose mothers took the fish oil scored much higher on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at the age of 30 months. The Bayley test is considered the gold standard for evaluating young children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2005.
A review of over 50 studies, most of which are very recent, suggests that DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil) improves cognitive and behavioral performances. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August, 2005.
Other studies have shown that school-age children with dyspraxia (a condition that encompasses problems with motor skills and coordination) improved dramatically when given a fish oil supplement.
In a study of over 3,000 adults it was found that those who had been breast-fed for 7-9 months had higher IQ’s than those who were breast-fed for two weeks or less. Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA).
Omega-3s can do wonderful things for your health, from helping you beat prostate cancer to improving your mental health. Over 2,000 scientific studies have demonstrated the wide range of problems associated with omega-3 deficiencies, including:
- Memory Problems
- Weight Gain
- Heart Disease
Omega-3s are also absolutely necessary for proper brain function. The human brain is more than 60 percent structural fat, just as your muscles are made of protein and your bones are made of calcium. But it’s not just any fat that our brains are made of. It has to be certain types of fats.
Receptors for certain neurotransmitters in your brain are normally made from an omega-3 fat called DHA. DHA is a major building block of tissues in the brain and the retina of the eye. It is used to form neurotransmitters which are vital to normal nerve and brain function. If you don’t have much DHA in your blood, your body may use man-made trans-fat molecules as a construction material instead.
But trans-fats are shaped differently than DHA, so the receptors become deformed and don’t work very well. This can lead to problems like depression and problems concentrating, especially in children whose brains is still developing.
While you should certainly consume plant based omega-3 fats that have ALA, you simply can not rely on them for your body to produce enough healthy DHA. On the other hand you should also avoid DHA only products as your body needs all omega-3 fats, ALA, EPA and DHA. If you overload on anyone of them you can run into problems.
EPA helps build a healthy heart, support flexible joints, vibrant skin and improve blood chemistry.
So, where do you get a proper balance of omega-3 fats? Get a high quality fish oil, like the ones we sell in our office. Be wary of low cost fish oils. Many have not been processed adequately and contain mercury and PCB’s (the deadly substances that are strangling the biodiversity of our oceans). Finally, when you don’t get sunlight take cod liver oil instead of fish oil so that you get vitamin D.
Always consult a physician before beginning any supplementation program.