By Cheryl Myers, Chief of Education and Scientific Affairs at EuroPharma, Inc., Green Bay, WI
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, than obviously a marine source of omega-3s is not appropriate. Plant omega-3s are not the same as salmon omega-3s. And even though alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from flax has its benefits, it still needs to be converted by the body to become EPA and DHA. The conversion rate is only 1 to 8 percent, so you just can’t get the same effects as you can from salmon-sourced omega-3s that are already in the form you need them.
But that doesn’t mean that all fatty acids from plant-based sources are out. In fact, there are excellent plant-based sources of other valuable essential fatty acids, including omega-5 from pomegranate and omega-7 from sea buckthorn.
For example, omega-5 fatty acid, otherwise known as punicic acid, is provided by PomXtra, which features pomegranate fruit and seed oil extract.
Interestingly, seed oil extract is the only known botanical source (that I’m aware of) of omega-5 fatty acid. Omega-5 fatty acid is pretty amazing. It has some of the same actions as tamoxifen—an anticancer drug—without the dangers and side effects. Tamoxifen, like many drugs, is risky. It can cause blood clots, endometrial cancer, early menopause, and causes a higher risk of cataracts.
One of the reasons for pomegranate seed oil’s cell-protecting activity, especially for breast tissue, is that it is an aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase is an enzyme that affects the body’s steroid metabolism. Imbalances have been linked to both breast and prostate cancer. In other research, pomegranate extracts—including seed oil extract—was found to inhibit aromatase activity by 60-80 percent. This study also found that pomegranate seed oil showed a 90 percent inhibition of MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
• Grossmann ME, et al." Punicic acid is an omega-5 fatty acid capable of inhibiting breast cancer proliferation." Int J Oncol. 2010 Feb;36(2):421-6.
• Kim ND, Mehta R, et al. "Chemopreventive and adjuvant therapeutic potential of pomegranate (Punica granatum) for human breast cancer." Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2002 Feb;71(3):203-17.
• Adhami VM, et al. "Cancer chemoprevention by pomegranate: laboratory and clinical evidence." Nutr Cancer. 2009 Nov;61(6):811-5.