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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

Answer: 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've 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 get other benefits. I personally 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, these are just my personal favorite oils:

Coconut Oil- I love applying this to my skin, and cooking with it. I also put this in my smoothies. Coconut oil helps my brain, it's known to support brain health.

Chia Seed oil- I love chia seed oil as a supplement (Chia Omega by Essential Formula's is the newest kid on the block, sold at health food stores nationwide). Chia seed oil provides your body with "alpha linolenic acid." Then, your body converts that to some EPA and DHA, which are the two primary ingredients in fish oil! Chia seeds also provide quercetin and antioxidants to support general cellular health.

Grape seed Oil- I love cooking with grape seed oil because it has a mild flavor, so 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. The name "moringa" means "reddish brown" likely referring to the seed color. One popular brand is made by "Organic India" and I like this one because they use organic moringa, plus it comes in a powder for my smoothies and softgels for supplementation.

Argan oil- It comes from a nut, common to Morroco, and it's used cosmetically. I use it on my skin for fine lines and elbows/heels. I sometimes spray "Morrocoan Oil" 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.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)