Are Fish Oils Your Only Option?

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“Dear Pharmacist,

I’m taking a prescription drug version of fish oils for my heart and cholesterol. I want a plant-derived option because I’m a vegetarian, plus I get “fish burp.” Are there plant-derived essential fatty acids, or do you have to get it from fish?”
–H.B., Plano, Texas

Fish burp often happens if you have a deficiency of probiotics and digestive enzymes, however people assume the burp happens from rancid oil. Fish oils aren’t usually rancid nowadays. They’ve are the gold standard supplement for people seeking essential fatty acids.

I’ve been a fan of essential fatty acids, and fish oil in particular for many years, however, I respect your desire to find a vegetarian source.

Depending on the oil, you won’t get as high a concentration of EPA and DHA from a non-fish oil supplement, but you will get other benefits.  I personally take plant-derived essential fatty acids, and cook with some too! I put other oils on my face too. I’m not fat phobic, I think good ‘fats‘ are crucial to feeling well. Oils lube the joints, and help with regularity, they plump the skin and support heart health! Here are my favorite oils and how you can take them, then you can decide what’s right for you. Not all of them have EPA/DHA in them, these are just my personal favorite oils:

  • Coconut Oil- I love applying this to my skin, and cooking with it. I also put this in my smoothies. Coconut oil helps my brain, it’s known to support brain health.
  • Chia Seed oil- I love chia seed oil as a supplement. Chia seed oil provides your body with “alpha linolenic acid.” Then, your body converts that to some EPA and DHA, which are the two primary ingredients in fish oil! Chia seeds also provide quercetin and antioxidants to support general cellular health. Here’s a recipe for Oat Chia Seed Pudding with Bananas and Honey Glazed Pecans.
  • Plant Oil-My friends at Essential Formulas make a plant-based oil comprised of rice bran, sunflower, borage seed, avocado, perilla seed, flax seed, olive and tea seed oil. It’s kind of amazing! Because they support nutrient absorption and membrane integrity of brain cells as well as all cell membranes, fatty acids are “essential” to human life. They impact all major body systems. There is a very specific balanced ratio of polyunsaturated, unsaturated, and monounsaturated EFAs, namely omegas 3, 6 and 9 that ideally occur in a ratio of 4:1:1.* This balance is not always represented in common retail supplements. CLICK HERE to learn about Essential Living (Plant) Oils.
  • Grape seed Oil- I love cooking with grape seed oil because it has a mild flavor, so I use it in my pesto sauce recipe, in salad dressings and in place of olive oil.
  • Moringa- A superfood used to combat malnutrition for centuries. The name “moringa” means “reddish brown” likely referring to the seed color. One popular brand is made by “Organic India” and I like this one because they use organic moringa, plus it comes in a powder for my smoothies and softgels for supplementation. I also got all of you a 20% of coupon code if you choose to buy Moringa or any of Organic India’s wonderful products. Coupon code is SUZY.
  • Argan oil- It comes from a nut, common to Morroco, and it’s used cosmetically. I use it on my skin for fine lines and elbows/heels. I sometimes spray “Morrocan Oil” on my hair for lightweight shine.
  • Flaxseed Oil- It provides a natural source of estrogen, which is thought to knock out bad estrogen from your cells. Like chia seed oil, it provides the precursor to EPA and DHA which translates to protection to the colon, breast, prostate, skin, heart and joints.