T Nation

Alpha Linolenic Acid and EPA, DHA

Something bugs me. If ALA is converted in the body into EPA and DHA, why should we buy omega 3 fish oil rich in EPA and DHA when we can just take the much less costly alternative ALA (flax, nuts, etc…)?

I’m sure it has something to do with a poor ratio of conversion or something, but can’t find info about that.

[quote]gogotheviking wrote:
I’m sure it has something to do with a poor ratio of conversion or something, [/quote]

And you would be correct.

I just found some medical texts (hard to understand, English is not my first language) and from what I understand, the conversion rate for DHA is very low, so that is why we should supplement with EPA and DHA, with emphasis on DHA…

As far as I know ALA has a hard time converting to EPA and DHA

[quote]playmaker08 wrote:
As far as I know ALA has a hard time converting to EPA and DHA[/quote]

I forget the exact ratio… But it would take 9 times more flaxseeds to get the same EPA and DHA you get from fish.

the ratio varies and declines as people age (biological age, not chronological).

i recall numbers of 6-10% (damn biochem notes are in ontario so i can’t quote a reference), but there is competition from the omega 6 pathway for the same enzymes, so if one’s diet is high in 18n2, it will inhibit conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. this is one of the reasons that o3:o6 balance is important too.