Actual estimated Omega-3 absorption amount from flax seeds


100 g of flax seeds said to be containing approx. "22.8 g" omega-3 ("mostly ALA"). The body needs to convert the ALA to EPA (conversion rate: "5-10%") and DHA (conversion rate: "2-5%"). (sorry, don't have the sources but it is found quickly by searching for those numbers)

My questions are (1) how much of that flax seed ALA is acual EPA and DHA already, Wikipedia says only "mostly ALA", if any, and (2) how correct is my calculation of estimated EPA/DHA from the flax seeds's ALA amount?:

My calculation so far: Let's say the "22.8 g" are 90% ALA, so:

EPA at 10% conversion: 2,052 g.

DHA at 5% conversion: 1,026 g.

The flax seeds are grounded very well for maximum absorption, and the question is, how much of that is absorbed compared to an flax oil form. Also, did I forget anything else regarding actual absorbed amount of fatty acids form that 100 g flax seeds? Or just: Is my calculation close enough?

(I know the conversion of ALA to EPA/DHA by the body can suffer with age and/or how nutrified the body is, so other EPA/DHA sources, like from fish, may be advised, but this is a different topic)

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4 Replies

  • As I heard someone say years ago, it's not "you are what you eat", it should be "you are what you absorb". Very true. If flax seed isn't as efficiently absorbed as the oil, I'd love to know the outcome of your research here. Wish I could help, but I'm overloaded as it is. Post your findings please!

  • That's right. I know "you are what you absorb" from Wallach :)

    No, I'm not a researcher, just a private individual. I searched around but couldn't find answers to my questions.

    Anyway, so far, because of the lack of infos, I'd say one should consider taking fish oil too, not only flax seed, to be on the safe side. If one can't take fish oil, then because of the low conversion percentage from ALA to DHA and EPA (e.g. due to age and lack of other nutrients that are needed for the conversion) -- note the 5% and 10% are the highest values, so let's take the lowest -- one would need to take like 50 g or so daily to hopefully reach adequate values. And I could still be wrong on the 50 g per day because e.g. the person's weight plays a role too, and probably other things that I didn't even ask of ("you didn't know you didn't know").

  • Probably pretty safe advice from what you've found. And I found cassette tapes by Joel Wallach years ago- I call him the Mineral Man. He was one of the first people I ran across back in the 80's when I started my search for health through nutrition. I knew there were better ways to deal with health issues than taking drugs, and I have found volumes of information out there, mineral supplementation being one of many. Thanks for posting your findings!

  • I would call him Nutrient Man because although minerals are important, I wouldn't say they are more important than the vitamins (even if they are 2/3 of the pile), EFAs or the amino acids because, to say it in short, image you have no vitamins and even lacking in one vit, let's say b1, leads to congestive heart failure. Lacking in EFAs can also lead to deadly thrombosis. Anemia can be caused by not only lack of Iron but also B12, copper and others. I used to think that one is more important than the other but the more I learn the equally important I think they are.

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