T Nation

How Overrated is Flax?


From what I understand the omega-3's in flax are not very bioavailable to humans. ALA is an omega-3 unsaturated fatty acid that is frequently found in plant material. The problem with ALA is that humans do not have a lot of the proper enzymes to convert these to functional omega-3s, we do have SOME of the enzymes (enlongases and desaturases) but they aren't expressed very high, meaning that about 5% or less of the omega-3 is converted to DHA.

So taking this into account, is it worth using flaxseed?


I used to take flax a lot, but after reading Berardi's early writing on fish oils, I basically came away with the Fish oils > Flax message, and pretty much stuck to higher dosings of fish oils caps instead of using any flax at all.



Thats true, but there are several reasons to keep flax in:

1) ALA has benefits in and of themselves that are separate from EPA/DHA

2) Fibre. Obviously Fish oil doesn't have fibre, but flax s full of it, so it can add to your daily fiber intake.

3) Lignans. The type of phytoestrogen in flax that can actually decrease aromatization of testosterone to estrogen.


I take flax as well, but for me, in addition to the things you mentioned, I just like the texture that milled flax adds to a smoothie. I pretend it's little bits of cookie. I also really like adding milled chia as it's a pretty good thickener for shakes.