Comparison of Flax Oil vs. Fish Oil and Borage Oil: Are You Lacking the Enzyme to Digest Flax Oil?

New research reveals millions of Americans are deficient in the vital digestive enzyme called D6D (delta-6 desaturase) required to convert flax oil into EPA and GLA, the two nutrients that fight inflammation. Unlike flax seed oil, borage and fish oils do not require that problematic enzyme, and are fast replacing flax oil among informed dieters.

According to at least one popular diet web site, millions of dieters around the world may be using the wrong oil on their salads, or taking the wrong omega-3 dietary supplement pill.

For 9,000 years, people have been growing flax for food. Popular menus include pouring flax seed oil over salads, eating the seed as a grain in breads or hot cereals, adding it to soups and vegetables, or swallowing big capsules of the ancient vegetable oil. The idea was to get nutrients called EPA, DHA, and GLA from the essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids flax contains. The problem is that to get GLA, EPA and DHA from flax, you need a special digestive enzyme called delta-6 desaturase or D6D. And, guess what? The news from is that in many cases only young, healthy people make enough of the enzyme to do the conversion from flax oil into these special nutrients that people are looking for. And, a large percentage of people are now known to be deficient in this enzyme from birth.

Furthermore, the D6D enzyme is very fragile. It is often blocked by other things people are eating or doing. Alcohol from wine and beer or whisky blocks it. Smoking and chewing tobacco products block it. Eating lots of omega-6 polyunstaturated or saturated fats block it or use it up quickly. Stress blocks it. A long list of activities and dietary products will block D6D, even if people do make it and are not completely "deficient". If it is blocked this way, then these people are essentially deficient as far as its ability to convert flax oil into GLA or EPA nutrients.

What are all these initials and why do people want them? EPA, DHA and GLA are made from "essential fatty acids" - LA and LNA - called essential because your body can't make them by itself. You must eat foods (or take supplements) from outside sources containing either Lenoleic Acid (LA) or Alpha Lenolenic Acid (LNA). Flax seed oil contains both of these.

LA: Linoleic Acid
LNA: Linolenic Acid
GLA: Gamma Linolenic Acid
EPA: Eicosapentaenoic Acid
DHA: Docosahexaenoic Acid

And, if you can properly digest these essential fats, then you get two wonderful health boosters for your body called EG1 and EG3 (prostaglandin series-1 and series-3). These are terrific aids in fighting inflammation. And, when you reduce inflammation, you help your body prevent major diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and many more.

What if you can't digest the flax seed oil? Well, you will end up making too much of something called EG2 (prostaglandin series-2). As you might guess, this actually INCREASES your levels of inflammation, and therefore increases your risk for all the major diseases associated with inflammation -- and that's a big list of diseases, as scientists are reporting these days. The site lists dozens of these associated diseases, adding up to possibly 73% of all the deaths each year in the U.S.

Furthermore, new research has implicated inflammation and insulin resistance in dozens of "minor" conditions that make us feel unattractive and uncomfortable -- including such conditions as alopecia, hair loss, baldness, thinning hair, excema, skin tags, alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis, etc. For people affected with these conditions, managing their inflammation and insulin resistance levels might slow or even prevent thinning hair or alopecia. So, for years people have been buying flax oil to get vital nutrients. And all this time they may have actually been making matters worse. Or, at least many people have not been improving their health, despite their efforts.

Here is the break down -- The issue is that the Linoleic Acid flax seed oil contains has to be converted into Gamma Linolenic Acid using Delta-6 Desaturase D6D enzyme. And D6D is made inoperative by high levels of insulin (duh), alcohol, pollutants, and high levels of Omega-6 Fatty acids from vegetable oils and fried foods, trans-fatty acids, etc.

Also, D6D becomes less available anyway as we age, and there is evidently a genetic mutation that makes people develop diabeties (by family groups of course). That mutation is basically simply a change in the code for one chromosome in microsomal DNA that makes people not as capable of making D6D as "normal" people. It is felt that this mutation is probably the true cause of the familial component in the genesis of type-2 diabetes, and naturally likely of most inflammatory disease and metabolic syndrome.

A simple digestive enzyme deficiency, which is possibly inherited among up to 40-50% of people or sometimes even more in some regions (apparently about 90% of the Pima Indians in Arizona, for example). Estimates vary, but the inability to use D6D is very common. So, a simple digestive enzyme can be a major cause involved in many of our worst diseases. Who'd have thought it?

OMEGA-3 Alpha-Linolenic Acid LNA (part of flax oil) + D6D -> ... -> Eicosapentaenoic Acid EPA -> Series-3 Prostaglandins [inflammation fighters] OMEGA-6 Linoleic Acid LA (in many vegetable oils, incl. flax oil) + D6D -> ... -> Gamma Lenolenic Acid GLA -> ... -> Dihomogamma Linolenic Acid DGLA -> Series-1 Prostaglandins [inflammation fighters]

NOTE that D6D is required to generate both of these this way, from vegetable oils, and it is often not available for diabetes and many pre-diabetics or metabolic syndrome, insulin resistant folks.

Incidentally, if you eat the wrong stuff and D6D stops working, then you get Arachidonic Acid (AA), which leads to making Series-2 Prostaglandins... those are the bad guys involved in most inflammatory disease states.

Everybody affected by most of the major types of disease in the U.S. usually wants to boost Series-1 and 3 Prostaglandins, and lessen Series-2. We're manipulating our diet to get that to happen. That's most of our strategy. There's more, i.e. burning more with exercise, eating less etc.

SOLUTION? The idea is to make an end run around the missing or not-working D6D issue. Fish oils give you EPA and DHA with needing to be converted by D6D. Borage oil gives you GLA with using D6D. So the answer is simply to add them into your diet. (1) Take Borage Oil (GLA), which gives you GLA without needing D6D (best source). Recommended daily dose is about 300mg of GLA from one 1,200mg oil capsule for most normal sized people - up to twice that for very large people. (2) Take Fish Oil, which gives you EPA without needing D6D (best source). Recommended dose is about 2.4 grams a day of the total EPA and DHA in the oil you are using. That usually means about 3-4 pharmaceutical grade capsules, or up to 10 normal standard health store grade capsules. Both these oils together will get you more of the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin series-1 and series-3 molecules. And you don't get as much of the pro-inflammatory series-2 prostaglandins that would come from not being able to convert flax seed's omega-6 fatty acids into DGLA and therefore ending up with too much arachidonic acid -- whenever you're insulin resistant, inflamed or for some other reason unable to produce or use enough delta-6 desaturase D6D enzyme.

If all of that complex metabolic chemistry is confusing, just take's word for it -- while flax seed oil may not hurt you much, a much better choice for most of us would be fish and borage oils. For more information, read more about flax oil, borage oil and fish oil at the web site --

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