7

votes

Why does flaxseed oil have a better effect on my gums than fish oil?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 30, 2011 at 2:34 PM

A few years ago when I was still veg*n but transitioning to paleo I started taking flax seed oil. One effect it had was that my gums stopped bleeding. After reading about some negative effects of lignans and the fact that DHA is the more usable form of omega-3. Since then, some gum bleeding returned, which was really disappointing. I stopped taking any fish oil, but the gum problems continued. So recently I switched back to flax oil and my gums seem much better. It's interesting because Seth Roberts, who is mostly paleo, also uses flax rather than fish http://blog.sethroberts.net/ He says fish oil makes him feel sick and he's seen many positive effects with flax.

What could be behind this? Maybe ALA has some positive effects that DHA doesn't? I don't eat much ALA in my diet since nuts upset my stomach, but I do eat seafood.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 11, 2011
at 01:31 AM

This is the problem with supplementing or eating the same foods day after day. Worrying about deficiency you end up with an imbalance which can be just as deleterious as the deficiency itself.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on October 10, 2011
at 11:20 PM

I didn't realize that. Carlson's has 1.6:1 EPA to DHA and another 300mg in "other Omega 3 Fatty Acids". If you eat a tablespoon of this stuff everyday, then you're consuming 2400mg or 2.4g of EPA (vs. 1.5g of DHA). Is dis cause for cunsern?

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on October 10, 2011
at 11:16 PM

How did you up your calcium to 1000mg per day?

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 31, 2011
at 02:51 PM

Sorry, just continuing to think "out loud" here. Maybe fish oil DHA/EPA is different from real food DHA/EPA in some way, such that real food n3 would be just fine, but fish oil n3 lacks some factor and leads to gum irritation.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 31, 2011
at 02:48 PM

Then again, if you eat salmon or sardines or real cod liver, the DHA/EPA should hit your system all at once, and presumably your body should be fine with it. So maybe not so plausible after all.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 31, 2011
at 02:47 PM

Of course your answer is speculative but it seems like a plausible hypothesis that deserves testing. Excellent.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on March 30, 2011
at 03:47 PM

Melissa, I'm curious about this because I have periodontal disease and often have trouble with my gums bleeding when I floss certain teeth. Do you have gum disease too? I have upped my dose of Vit D to 10,000iu and I brush and floss religiously but it doesn't seem to help. I always have to have the scaling & root planing at the dentist. If flax helps with this, I definitely want to try it!

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on March 30, 2011
at 03:44 PM

"veg*n" <- classic. What were you DHA/EPA dosages before ?

C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1811)

on March 30, 2011
at 03:34 PM

Interested to hear answers to this question as I find that as a breastfeeding mother, both myself and my son seem to have better results with flaxseed rather than fish oil/CLO.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 30, 2011
at 03:33 PM

yeah, it's called eskimo blood, but I didn't think it would increase gum bleeding. it should just affect how much you bleed once you are cut.

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7 Answers

3
77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on March 30, 2011
at 06:58 PM

Great question - I've often wondered this myself.

As I recall, Seth Roberts speculated that flax n-3 might be better because the process of conversion to DHA/EPA might result in something analogous to a low and steady dose, whereas a high dose of straight DHA/EPA hits your system all at once.

I also recall a writer at T Nation suggesting that people spread their fish oil pills throughout the day for more effective results. This seems motivated by the same idea.

Does anyone have an informed opinion about these notions?

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 31, 2011
at 02:47 PM

Of course your answer is speculative but it seems like a plausible hypothesis that deserves testing. Excellent.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 31, 2011
at 02:48 PM

Then again, if you eat salmon or sardines or real cod liver, the DHA/EPA should hit your system all at once, and presumably your body should be fine with it. So maybe not so plausible after all.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on March 31, 2011
at 02:51 PM

Sorry, just continuing to think "out loud" here. Maybe fish oil DHA/EPA is different from real food DHA/EPA in some way, such that real food n3 would be just fine, but fish oil n3 lacks some factor and leads to gum irritation.

2
29d9ff75b8c2745f464280cbeb39368a

on October 10, 2011
at 07:55 PM

Be careful of fish oils with high EPA to DHA ratio. EPA increases bleeding and so can be a problem for some people and pregnant / nursing mothers. DHA is the more important compound in fish oil and is safer. It fights inflamation, has huge benefits to brain health (and development in children) and may fight some cancers. The antinflammatory effect helps with periodontis.

Flax Seed Oil also shows positive results with oral health. ALA may have direct impact on the gum tissue and of course gets converted by the body to EPA/DHA at varying rates depending on individual body chemestry and overall health (illness, diet, age reduce the body's ability to convert ALA).

Added comment: look for a fish oil with close to a 1:1 EPA:DHA ration or better. They are not common and usually there is way to much EPA.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on October 10, 2011
at 11:20 PM

I didn't realize that. Carlson's has 1.6:1 EPA to DHA and another 300mg in "other Omega 3 Fatty Acids". If you eat a tablespoon of this stuff everyday, then you're consuming 2400mg or 2.4g of EPA (vs. 1.5g of DHA). Is dis cause for cunsern?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 11, 2011
at 01:31 AM

This is the problem with supplementing or eating the same foods day after day. Worrying about deficiency you end up with an imbalance which can be just as deleterious as the deficiency itself.

2
33ca64a09412bed1b47b85a4f1ac6a27

(150)

on March 30, 2011
at 08:18 PM

I had a very similar experience: my gums started bleeding when I gave up flax oil, although I also switched to a sorta-paleo-ish diet at around the same time so there could be more than 1 cause. I continued to take a very small amount of fish oil (1 cap a day), as I have for years.

Eventually I saw other evidence that I was both bruising easily and my blood was not clotting properly, which led me to start tracking my nutritional intake on fitday, after which I discovered that my calcium intake was much lower than I thought. Since getting my calcium back up to about the RDA (1000 mg a day), gums have stopped bleeding. Possibly I could have accomplished the same thing by taking the flax oil again.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on October 10, 2011
at 11:16 PM

How did you up your calcium to 1000mg per day?

2
C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1811)

on March 30, 2011
at 03:44 PM

Ok, very lay answer here as I'm pretty new to paleo and don't have much time to study this stuff.

However, from an n=1 perspective...

If fish oil is taken, the amount of DHA/EPA is of a fixed quantity. My theory is that my body will convert the right ratios of DHA/EPA that I need - and, the right ratios that my breastmilk needs.

Ok, so the conversion may be inefficent, but more efficient in the way that the allocation occurs inside ones body.

1
5b8cf203186c3cb7810f5046e0532be8

(166)

on June 26, 2012
at 12:19 PM

1
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on March 30, 2011
at 03:35 PM

Fish oil for some people seems to inhibit the clotting factor of their blood. This at http://www.livestrong.com/article/294705-the-side-effects-of-salmon-fish-oil/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/255903-nutritional-value-of-flaxseed-oil/

Perhaps you have a mild allergy to the particular fish oil brand you were taking...or perhaps a mild allergy to all seafood.

My other thought is why not try oil pulling with olive oil. It is a great way to massage ones gums and keep them pink and healthy.

As to the properties of flaxseed oil being superior to fish oil for bleeding gums...I have no idea. Good Luck.

1
2cdd1c775683f760390d80cdb984fc13

on March 30, 2011
at 03:21 PM

I once ordered some Fish Oil online, and when I received it the label said "May Increase Risk of Bleeding" along with all the other side effects. After talking to my doctor about it, she said it's only a problem if you take very high doses of fish oil, and it's due to a unique effect fish oil has on your platelets (it lubricates your platelets so they don't "stick" together as easily and form clots). But, it's usually only a problem in people who are on blood thinners or have a history of anemia. Sorry, she did not go into much detail beyond that, but I hope that helps somewhat.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 30, 2011
at 03:33 PM

yeah, it's called eskimo blood, but I didn't think it would increase gum bleeding. it should just affect how much you bleed once you are cut.

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