Which is best, flax oil or fish oil to get the Omega 3’s so necessary to help balance menopause hormones?
It’s really hard to get clear information, so I hope this blog makes it easier to make the choice that is right for you.
Omega 3’s are classed as ‘essential’ fatty acids, as it’s ‘essential’ that we provide these nutrients to our body. It’s not yet considered that the body can manufacture them itself. There are 3 fatty acids under the Omega 3 umbrella: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Please don’t try to remember the names, just the abbreviation will do. I find it a tongue twister to even try and say the full name!
Numerous studies show that these Omega 3 fatty acids have a positive impact on many chronic disease including heart disease, high blood pressure, alzheimers, bone health, arthritis, diabetes; those degenerative diseases that are so much more common post-menopause.
Every one of your 75 trillion cell membranes also requires Omega 3’s to promote cellular metabolism (think energy), and 60% of the membranes in your brain are also reliant on these fatty acids, (think mental clarity).
Yet my favourite reason for loving Omega 3’s is that they break down into the raw ingredients for making happy, balanced hormones; reducing the incidence and severity of hot flushes, improving mood, memory, anxiety and reducing any inflammatory conditions anywhere in the body.
I call them the apples for the apple pie. You can’t make a good apple pie without an essential, plentiful supply of good quality apples!
Hopefully it’s possible to see how absolutely essential they are to your life and health.
What’s the difference between the 3 individual fatty acids that make up Omega 3’s, and where can you source them?
ALA is found predominantly in flaxseeds, hemp seeds and is the head of the Omega 3 family. Being the head of the family it can be converted into EPA and DHA found in fish, more on these 2 essential nutrients below. The main health benefit of ALA is seen as supporting heart health and reducing inflammatory responses in all systems of the body. Think digestive issues, urinary tract infections, even vaginal dryness can be helped.
Flaxseeds also contain anti-oxidants essential for preserving our internal health (I refer to it as stopping the rot and rust in the body) and are considered the best source of lignans, a phyto-oestrogen, which convert in the intestines to substances that help balance female hormones. All good stuff.
EPA and DHA are found in oily fish, for example mackerel, trout, salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, also krill and some algae such as spirulina.
These two essential fatty acids have been backed by numerous studies supporting their benefits for cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, maintaining blood cholesterol levels, keeping anxiety and depression in check, boosting brain and nerve function. All benefits that can help reduce unpleasant menopause symptoms.
One study (1) has shown that although these omega 3’s may not affect the intensity of hot flushes, they can halve the frequency. Although in my practice I see hot flushes banished when taking Omega 3’s alongside making other nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Back to the original question! Which is best, flax oil or fish oil to get the Omega 3’s so necessary to help balance hormones?
In my opinion, BOTH are necessary for maximum hormone and health benefits.
I don’t recommend taking both at once, rather mix and match, see how you feel.
The perfect solution would be to combine your fish or flax oil supplement with a diet rich in omega 3. I must stress that the quality and quantity of active ingredients within supplements varies considerably, cheaper is definitely not better in the case of oils.
One more point I’d like to add here from a naturopathic nutrition perspective about the energy of these different Omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds are harvested ABOVE ground, they have grown and flourished with the help of the sun’s energy; fish and krill come from a deeper and darker environment.
If you’re feeling low, particularly during the colder, darker months when eating more food grown below ground, you may find that the energy from the flax oil lifts you up? Conversely, in the summer when there is more light and you’re eating high energy foods grown above ground, you may find that you need to ‘calm’ your chaotic internal energy a little.
You may actually prefer one to the other when you intuitively tune in and listen to your body.
I’ll leave that final thought with you!
These essential Omega 3 fats are just one small part of the nutrition, lifestyle and mindset changes explored in the Natural Menopause Road Map. 7 steps that collectively need to be embraced to achieve maximum results.
To discover your own personal route to balancing your menopause hormones and creating optimum health through menopause and beyond, click HERE to access your Natural Menopause Road Map.
A full hysterectomy in her 30s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.
Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best third of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too.
Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause/health concerns you may have.