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Options for vegans seeking fish oil's benefits

Dear Pharmacist: I'm taking a prescription drug version of fish oils for my heart and cholesterol. I want a plant-derived option because I'm a vegetarian, plus I get "fish burp." Are there plant-derived essential fatty acids, or do you have to get it from fish? -- H.B., Plano, Texas

"Fish burp" often happens if you have a deficiency of probiotics and digestive enzymes, but people assume the burp is caused by rancid oil (fish oils usually aren't nowadays).

Fish oils are the gold standard supplement for people seeking essential fatty acids. I've been a fan of essential fatty acids, and fish oil in particular, for many years. However, I respect your desire to find a vegetarian source.

Depending on the oil, you won't get as high a concentration of EPA and DHA from a non-fish oil supplement, but you will reap other benefits. I personally take plant-derived essential fatty acids, and cook with some, too! I'm not fat-phobic, as I think "good fats" are crucial to feeling well. Oils lube the joints and help with regularity; they plump the skin and support heart health.

Here are my favorite oils and how you can take them; you can decide what's right for you. Not all have EPA and DHA in them, these are just my favorite oils:

Coconut oil: I love cooking with it as well as applying it to my skin. I also put this in my smoothies. Coconut oil is known to support brain health.

Chia seed oil: I love chia seed oil as a supplement, as it provides your body with alpha linolenic acid, which your body then converts to EPA and DHA, which are the two primary ingredients in fish oil! Chia seeds also provide quercetin and antioxidants to support general cellular health.

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Grapeseed oil: I love cooking with grapeseed oil because it has a mild flavor. I use it in my pesto sauce recipe, in salad dressings and in place of olive oil.

Moringa: A superfood used to combat malnutrition for centuries. "Moringa" means "reddish brown," likely referring to the seed color.

Argan oil: It comes from a nut, common to Morocco, and it's used cosmetically. I use it on my skin for fine lines, on my elbows and heels, and on my hair for lightweight shine.

Flaxseed oil: It provides a natural source of estrogen, which is thought to knock out bad estrogen from your cells. Like chia seed oil, it provides the precursor to EPA and DHA, which translates to protection to the colon, breast, prostate, skin, heart and joints.

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