Krill Oil More Useful for Treating Inflammation Than Flax Seed Oil

Previous Article Next Article
January 01, 2003 | 48,804 views


While all omega-3 fats possess immune-boosting qualities, omega-3 fats from fish oil, EPA and DHA, are more biologically potent than omega-3 fat ALA, found in plant sources such as flax seeds.

These fats have also been found, by many animal and clinical studies, to have anti-inflammatory properties, indicating that they might be beneficial to managing diseases such as coronary heart disease,depression and cancer. Omega-3 fats many also help with aging.

Clinical trials have also assessed the benefits of supplementing the diet with fish oils and results showed a decrease in diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis,psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraineheadaches.

Journal American College Nutrition December 2002; 21(6):495-505

Nearly everyone seems to benefit from omega-3 oils, as most Americans are deficient in this nutrient. The sad tragedy, however, is that nearly all fish are contaminated with mercury so it is not safe to consume fish as a source of these oils. Instead, we are forced to use krill oil.

Some people choose flax seeds for their source of omega-3 oils. This is not the optimal source for most though, because the ALA found in flax seeds needs to be converted to long-chain omega-3fats, and this conversion process is impaired in many.

More importantly, ALA is not equivalent in its biological effects to the long-chain omega-3 fats found in marine oils. Experimental studies suggest that intake of 3 to 4 grams of ALA per day is equivalent to0.3 grams (300 mg) of EPA per day. EPA and DHA are more rapidly incorporated into plasma and membrane lipids and produce effects more rapidly than does ALA.

Further, there are relatively large reserves of omega-6 linolenic acid in your body fat that tends to slow down the formation of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA from ALA.

So in addition to consuming omega-3 fat you will want to lower your intake of most omega-6 fat as nearly all of us consume far too much,causing the delicate omega 6:3 ratio to become unbalanced.

Mercury is rampantin the waterways of the world, and, as the article expresses, mercury is not just in the fat of the fish -- it is in all of the tissues.

Clinically,I use hair analysis on most of my patients as a way to determine mercury levels. While many view this as a controversial test, very few would deny its utility as a sensitive screen for heavy metal exposure. A person's mercury level in their hair is almost always related to their consumption of fish.

There are exceptions,of course, as there are other environmental exposures to mercury. I recently tested a dentist who was not eating fish but was still actively removing mercury amalgams, and he had very high mercury levels in his system. This is not typical, though,as the mercury measured in the hair analysis is usually related to mercury exposure in the last three months, and most mercury from a person's amalgams is low level and will not exceed that consumed in fish.

Nonetheless,the mercury from amalgams is still a problem as it accumulates over time, but it rarely shows up in the hair unless you have had amalgams removed in the three months prior to the hair analysis and a large mercury exposure resulted from the removal.

It is a tragedy that we have virtually devastated fish, previously one of the healthiest foods on the planet, with mercury toxicity.We have polluted the environment with hundreds of millions of tons of mercury by burning coal for electricity. The mercury eventually finds its way into the waterways where it is bio-accumulated to very high levels in most fish. Generally the larger the fish, the more mercury it contains. In fact, some mercury levels in fish have been unbelievably high.

Tragedy is an understatement.

Some fish have less mercury than others, but nearly all fish are contaminated with mercury. I have done thousands of hair mineral analysis on patients and can confidently state this as truth. Patients who don't eat any fish are the only ones who have immeasurable levels of mercury in their hair. In my experience, anyone eating fish has mercury in their system, and it is nearly always in direct proportion to the frequency of their fish consumption.

So here is my recommendation:

Avoid eating all fish, unless you know the fish has been tested and shown not to contain harmful levels of mercury and other toxins.

Almost all fish has mercury that will absolutely compromise your health. The one apparent exception are very small fish like sardines or anchovies that haven't been in the ocean long enough to accumulate much mercury. Presently, I am also searching the market for safe sources of other fish, perhaps those caught from more pristine water sources that may still exist.

We all need the omega-3 fats found in fish -- in the case of most Americans,in fact, omega-3 is desperately needed -- but you should get them from a clean source like krill oil