Are fish oils your only choice?

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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

Dear H.B.: Fish burp often happens if you have a deficiency of probiotics and digestive enzymes, however people assume the burp happens from rancid oil. Fish oils aren't usually rancid nowadays. They 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. But 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 get other benefits. I take plant-derived essential fatty acids, and cook with some too! I put other oils on my face, too. I'm not fat phobic; 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, then you can decide what's right for you. Not all of them have EPA/DHA in them.

Coconut oil: I love applying this to my skin, and cooking with it. 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 (Chia Omega by Essential Formulas is the newest kid on the block, sold at health food stores nationwide). Chia seed oil provides your body with alpha linolenic acid. Your body converts that to EPA and DHA, which are the two primary ingredients in fish oil. Chia seeds also provide quercetin and other antioxidants to support general cellular health.

Grape seed oil: This has a mild flavor, so I use it in my pesto sauce recipe, in salad dressings and in place of olive oil.

Moringa: This is a superfood used to combat malnutrition. One popular brand is made by Organic India. I like this one because it uses organic moringa.

Flaxseed oil (below): 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 for the colon, breast, prostate, skin, heart and joints.

This is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.

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