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Omega 3 Eggs ... Flax Seed In Disguise?

by (116)
Updated October 23, 2014 at 3:08 AM
Created February 13, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Pretty much all the market "High Omega 3 Eggs" are produced by feeding the chickens flax seed meal. I think it's well known that the omega 3 from flax is absorbed poorly by our body and is inferior to fish oil in every aspect. So is there some catch to omega 3 eggs? Is the omega 3 content only an "on paper" attraction, thus consuming them is equivalent to consuming flax seed along with commercial eggs?

Medium avatar
188 · May 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

You probably consumed rancid flax which is very common and def causes inflammation.

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2399 · February 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Interesting that conventional and "organic" (whatever that means) are pretty much the same. While I do understand why someone would choose Omega3 enriched eggs, I would rather have eggs with overall lower Omega6 content than "just" higher Omega3. Thank you for the data. Be well

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
4359 · February 15, 2011 at 3:06 AM

ALA oxidizes less readily than the longer chain forms, so it has some health benefits vis a vis EPA and DHA. If you're eating too much LA, ALA isn't as good as EPA and DHA at combatting inflammation because it has to compete for elongation with LA. But, if you're eating little LA, ALA might actually be superior.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
4359 · February 15, 2011 at 3:06 AM

ALA oxidizes less readily than the longer chain forms, so it has some health benefits vis a vis EPA and DHA. If you're eating too much LA, ALA isn't as good as EPA and DHA at combatting inflammation because it has to compete for elongation with LA. But, if you're eat little LA, ALA might actually be superior.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1
22913 · February 14, 2011 at 4:16 PM

perfect example of why N=1, I felt better on Cod and unaffected by Flax. perhaps an underlying deficiency issue or quality of supplement. Science leans towards LCFA being way better and more usable...

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138 · February 14, 2011 at 10:55 AM

I agree that free range does not equal omega-3 enriched. Free range doesn't really say anything about the feed given to the hens, whereas omega-3 eggs infer a specific feed designed to engineer the enriched egg. Values of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in the eggs tested in the Samman et al. (2009) article are as follows: Conventional - 15.0 (+-3.23) omega 6, 1.36 (+-0.33) omega 3 Organic - 15.0 (+-2.30) omega 6, 1.34 (+-0.30) omega 3 Omega 3 enriched - 14.8 (+-0.74) omega 6, 6.57 (+-0.34) omega 3 (+- refers to plus/minus deviations they gave)

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083
2399 · February 14, 2011 at 10:28 AM

But free range does not equal "omega-3 enriched eggs". Would you be able to provide some numbers for the Samman article ? Ratio can be fluff talk. Funny enough a producer of Omega3 enriched eggs nearby states that the egg contains the same amoung of Omega3/6, 1.2g of both.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7
787 · February 14, 2011 at 3:11 AM

Sadly, no :( I was confused on this as well. ALA is in fact found in appreciable amounts in animal fat, depending on how much is present in the diet. My guess is they convert to DHA as needed, and thus don't store it in their fat reserves like they might if they were taking in DHA directly from their diet. Fish have DHA and EPA because algae/plankton produce it for them.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7
787 · February 14, 2011 at 3:09 AM

This makes a lot of sense to me, and is definitely true in the sense that the chickens process all the fiber, antinutrients and estrogenic compounds in flax seed, extracting the ALA for us. But apparently either chickens aren't that great at doing the conversion ALA to DHA conversion, or at least they don't convert the ALA that ends up being stored in their own fat and the egg yolk. Eggs that contain large amounts of DHA are from chickens fed DHA-containing algae (the same place fish get it).

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1
7324 · February 14, 2011 at 1:47 AM

It was my understanding that animal fat had epa and dha, not ala. The animals would have the same type of fat we would.

C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3
1801 · February 13, 2011 at 11:34 PM

My n=1 experience shows that I get better results supplementing with flaxseed oil compared to cod liver oil.

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5 Answers

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138 · February 14, 2011 at 8:03 AM

Recent studies suggest that in order for an egg to have an omega 6:omega 3 ratio close to the 2:1 that is thought to be favourable according to Paleolithic principles, the hen producing the egg would require a special feed beyond that of simply being free range. A 2009 study found that "omega-3 enriched eggs" contained an omega 6:omega 3 ratio of 2.27:1, whereas both "organic free range" and conventional eggs maintained a ratio of 10:1 (Samman et al. 2009).

Other studies have mentioned that the nutrient composition of the egg varies greatly with the feed given to the hen, and that consuming eggs modified to deliver higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids "may lend a health advantage" (Shapira et al. 2010, p. 273).

Additionally, in response to your idea of absorption by the human body, I agree with the comment above that suggests the chicken does most of the processing. Ferrier et al. (1995) and Oh et al. (1991) both demonstrated that consumption of omega-3 fats from eggs were reflected in the blood profiles of humans - suggesting their easy assimilation. In fact, chickens are thought to be great 'factories' for making nutrients bioavailable to humans (hence the wealth of literature suggesting all kinds of 'designer' eggs rich in antioxidants and such).

Anyway...enough of my rambling...all of this was just to say that I believe that there is an advantage to omega-3 enriched eggs simply because they pay attention to the feed given to the hens above and beyond simply letting them be free range. So the research suggests that it is more than simply an 'on paper' attraction as you suggest.

55179539f4b916555b8ba813dd27cf5c
138 · February 14, 2011 at 10:55 AM

I agree that free range does not equal omega-3 enriched. Free range doesn't really say anything about the feed given to the hens, whereas omega-3 eggs infer a specific feed designed to engineer the enriched egg. Values of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in the eggs tested in the Samman et al. (2009) article are as follows: Conventional - 15.0 (+-3.23) omega 6, 1.36 (+-0.33) omega 3 Organic - 15.0 (+-2.30) omega 6, 1.34 (+-0.30) omega 3 Omega 3 enriched - 14.8 (+-0.74) omega 6, 6.57 (+-0.34) omega 3 (+- refers to plus/minus deviations they gave)

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083
2399 · February 14, 2011 at 10:28 AM

But free range does not equal "omega-3 enriched eggs". Would you be able to provide some numbers for the Samman article ? Ratio can be fluff talk. Funny enough a producer of Omega3 enriched eggs nearby states that the egg contains the same amoung of Omega3/6, 1.2g of both.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083
2399 · February 17, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Interesting that conventional and "organic" (whatever that means) are pretty much the same. While I do understand why someone would choose Omega3 enriched eggs, I would rather have eggs with overall lower Omega6 content than "just" higher Omega3. Thank you for the data. Be well

209d2fc1f43df88348031c7c38077172
2
693 · February 13, 2011 at 11:10 PM

Pastured eggs should be first choice, but omega 3 eggs are better than conventional eggs. The chickens do the processing of the flax so we don't have to.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7
787 · February 14, 2011 at 3:09 AM

This makes a lot of sense to me, and is definitely true in the sense that the chickens process all the fiber, antinutrients and estrogenic compounds in flax seed, extracting the ALA for us. But apparently either chickens aren't that great at doing the conversion ALA to DHA conversion, or at least they don't convert the ALA that ends up being stored in their own fat and the egg yolk. Eggs that contain large amounts of DHA are from chickens fed DHA-containing algae (the same place fish get it).

Fda89f878ee4966e1b0fc4e8ec7dd1f9
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0 · December 07, 2012 at 8:24 PM

idk how flax gets into omega 3 eggs!!!!!!!!!!!

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
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4359 · February 14, 2011 at 1:45 AM

The form of omega 3 found in grass fed animal fat is mostly ALA -- the same form in flax. So, you're argument proves too much, which means it is wrong.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1
7324 · February 14, 2011 at 1:47 AM

It was my understanding that animal fat had epa and dha, not ala. The animals would have the same type of fat we would.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
4359 · February 15, 2011 at 3:06 AM

ALA oxidizes less readily than the longer chain forms, so it has some health benefits vis a vis EPA and DHA. If you're eating too much LA, ALA isn't as good as EPA and DHA at combatting inflammation because it has to compete for elongation with LA. But, if you're eating little LA, ALA might actually be superior.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
4359 · February 15, 2011 at 3:06 AM

ALA oxidizes less readily than the longer chain forms, so it has some health benefits vis a vis EPA and DHA. If you're eating too much LA, ALA isn't as good as EPA and DHA at combatting inflammation because it has to compete for elongation with LA. But, if you're eat little LA, ALA might actually be superior.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7
787 · February 14, 2011 at 3:11 AM

Sadly, no :( I was confused on this as well. ALA is in fact found in appreciable amounts in animal fat, depending on how much is present in the diet. My guess is they convert to DHA as needed, and thus don't store it in their fat reserves like they might if they were taking in DHA directly from their diet. Fish have DHA and EPA because algae/plankton produce it for them.

1e7df06e70a2922636ed3e5c75ceb24e
-2
-4 · September 07, 2012 at 5:21 PM

I get so frustrated with Flax. Lets be honest, flax really damages some people's health. Its been pulled from the market before. For some its extremely inflammatory. My own experience, and I've tried every form of flax I could find, is debilitating low back pain. Not understanding the link quick enough put some serious mileage on my back.

I'd like to see flax pulled from most products. The farmers that grow it can grow something else. The smallest amount of it in a product and I get back pain. Often make urine smell strange. I know I am not an isolated case, its a dangerous food that should be regulated.

Part of the problem with it, is that it boost the numbers of Omega 3 on boxes in the cheapest way. Chia would be a better substitute.

Medium avatar
188 · May 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

You probably consumed rancid flax which is very common and def causes inflammation.

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