omega-3 fatty acids from plants or seafood
Does it matter whether I get omega-3 fatty acids from plants or
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
By now, most people know that omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent
heart attacks, and that they can get lots of omega-3 fatty acids
But most people do not know that the omega-3 fatty acids in seeds
such as whole grains may be even more important in maintaining your
health than the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Virtually every
plant source of omega-3's also contains vitamin E, while fish oils
are low in vitamin E. All omega-3's break down very quickly when
exposed to oxygen in your body, and vitamin E stabilizes them so
they are more effective.
Omega-3s found in fish oils are mostly long chain fatty acids.
Omega-3s in plants, particularly seeds, contain much shorter chains
and are weaker than the omega-3s found in fish. However, the shorter
chain omega-3s, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in
leafy greens and seeds are converted to the long chain fatty acids
in the human body. To meet your needs for short chain omega-3 fatty
acids found in plants, eat lots of green leafy vegetables, and seeds
such as flaxseed, whole grains, beans and nuts.