Flax oil and fish oil are both popular supplements among the body-building and athletic communities. Fish oil contains a high amount of the omega-3 acids eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. Flaxseed oil is derived from the flax plant, and is high in another omega-3 acid — alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which the body converts to EPA and DHA. While both contain health-boosting properties, it appears that fish oil may be superior for helping to build muscle.
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Flax oil and fish oil both provide essential fatty acids, which have been linked with reducing the risks of heart disease and strokes, lowering levels of bad cholesterol, improving joint health and reducing inflammation. While these advantages may not directly benefit your muscles, the knock on effect is huge. In order to perform and grow optimally, your muscles need to be supported by a healthy body, and both flax oil and fish oil help to improve your overall health.
When performing a weight-training session, your muscles are broken down. Provided you get adequate rest, and enough protein and calories, the muscles will build back up to be bigger than before, and neurological adaptations will occur, making you stronger. This process takes time, and performing a demanding weights workout can leave your muscles and joints feeling very sore. A study from the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that subjects who consumed fish oils suffered less muscle soreness in the days following a workout than those who didn't.
The two more important omega-3 fatty acids when it comes to fighting disease, and reducing cholesterol levels are EPA and DHA, which fish oil has an abundance of. While flax oil contains ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA, not all of the ALA is converted, meaning that people who take flax oil may have lower levels of EPA and DHA in the blood than those who take fish oils. According to Nutritionist Dr. Michael Eades, when it comes to preventing disease and keeping healthy, fish oil is the superior choice.
Because fish and flax oils are both unsaturated fats, they are more unstable, and more likely to turn rancid than saturated fats are. When oils turn rancid, their fats become oxidized, which can cause damage to cells within your body. In order to avoid this, look to buy cold-pressed fish or flax oil. If you cannot obtain either of these, then make sure you keep your oils in a cool, dark environment. Rancid oils may cause damage to your muscle cells and impair your recovery.