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Omega 3 Absorption in Men & Flaxseed Oil Vs. Fish Oil

By Stephanie Brookshier

Omega-3 fatty acids are broken down and absorbed similarly in both men and women. The body can't produce are these polyunsaturated fats, so you must get them from your diet. Eating the right foods in the right forms will ensure you meet your omega-3 dietary requirements.

Omega-3 Health Benefits for Men

Omega-3 fatty acids likely help lower the risk of heart disease and may be important for cognitive and mental health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may improve good cholesterol, lower triglyceride levels and reduce high blood pressure in people with hypertension. A low-fat diet including fish and fish oil may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. Omega-3 fats also help the body control blood clotting and build cell membranes in the brain.

Fish Oil Absorption and Sources

Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. The health benefits of omega-3 come mostly from EPA and DHA, which are readily absorbed in the small intestine at 85 percent to 95 percent efficiency under normal conditions. Good fish oil sources include salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Most healthy men should aim for two servings of fish per week. You can also consume EPA and DHA in fish oil capsules. If you are considering taking fish oil supplements, check with your doctor for dosing recommendations.

Flaxseed Oil Absorption

Flaxseed oil contains the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. ALA needs to be converted in the body to DHA and EPA, and the process is not very efficient. In men, only about 8 percent of dietary ALA is converted to EPA, and 0.4 percent of ALA is converted to DHA. In women, the respective percentages are 21 percent and 8 percent. There is not enough evidence to show if one type of fat is better than the other, but both fish oil and flaxseed oil sources of omega-3 seem to be beneficial. Grind fresh flaxseeds before you consume them to ensure you absorb the omega-3 fats. ALA can also be found in other plant sources like soybeans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Considerations and Warnings

Safety and efficacy of supplements are not guaranteed since they're not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Omega-3 fats are contraindicated for men and women who are taking blood thinners, so always consult with your doctor before use. Men should aim for about 12 ounces of fish per week, or two average meals, and should limit fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.

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