Articles

Flaxseed

Introduction

Flaxseed oil is one of the best sources of the essential fatty acids. It contains approximately 50-60% of the omega-3 essential fatty acid, known as linolenic acid or alpha-linolenic acid, and roughly 18-20% of the omega-6 essential fatty acid known as linoleic acid. Flaxseed oil is nature’s richest source of linolenic acid, which is frequently deficient in American diets.

The essential fatty acids have several important functions. They are a necessary component of cell walls and cellular membranes throughout the body, they help in energy production, and they help regulate the breakdown of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Most Americans consume diets that contain too much of the omega-6 fatty acids and not enough of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is a very important nutritional supplement because it is nature’s best source of omega-3 fatty acid.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

From 1 to 2 tablespoonsful daily.

Most Common Dosage

1 tablespoonful daily.

Dosage Forms

Oil, gelcaps, and seeds.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Reported Uses

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the primary structural components in cell walls and membranes throughout the body. They are also instrumental in regulating inflammation, blood thickness and pressure, hormone production and the activities of the immune and central nervous systems. For children, omega-3s are important for development of the brain and eyes.

There are many clinical applications for omega-3. Studies suggest that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be linked to omega-3 deficiency. (1) Deficiencies have also been found in people who have allergies, asthma, and skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. (2) , (3) , (4)

Omega-3 may also be a preventative measure for many major illnesses. Researchers think omega-3 can help prevent breast, prostate, and colon cancers. (5) , (6) , In addition, flaxseed along with a consistent diet may influence hormone metabolism within postmenopausal women by decreasing the concentrations of serum 17 beta-estradiol and estrone sulfate and increasing the concentration of serum prolactin concentrations. (7)

Omega-3 fatty acids may support cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, relaxing blood vessels, and lowering cholesterol levels including LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. (8) , (9) , (10) , (11) Omega-3 may also reduce pain for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. (12) Deficiencies of omega-3 in the United States may also be linked to depression. (13)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

Flaxseed oil contains unsaturated fatty acids, which can undergo oxidation causing the oil to become rancid. When flaxseed oil becomes rancid, it develops a sharp/bitter taste, and should be discarded.

Flaxseed oil should be protected from heat, light, and oxygen because these conditions promote its oxidation.

Flaxseed oil should never be used for cooking and should be kept refrigerated after opening the bottle.

Individuals taking flaxseed oil should be encouraged to take adequate antioxidant nutrients, especially vitamin E.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Stevens L, Zentall SS, Deck JL. Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62:761-768.
  2. View Abstract: Galland L. Increased Requirements for Essential Fatty Acids in Atopic Individuals: A Review with Clinical Descriptions. J Am Coll Nutr. 1986;5(2):213-28.
  3. View Abstract: Masuev KA. The Effect of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids of the Omega-3 Class on the Late Phase of the Allergic Reaction in Bronchial Asthma Patients. Ter Arkh. 1997;69(3):31-33.
  4. View Abstract: Isseroff RR. Fish Again for Dinner! The Role of Fish and other Dietary Oils in the Therapy of Skin Disease. J Am Acad Dermatol. Dec1988;19(6):1073-80.
  5. View Abstract: Bagga D, et al. Dietary Modulation of Omega-3/Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Ratios in Patients with Breast Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. Aug1997;89(15):1123-31.
  6. View Abstract: Pandalai PK, et al. The Effects of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids on in Vitro Prostate Cancer Growth. Anticancer Res. Apr1996;16(2):815-20.
  7. View Abstract: Hutchins AM, Martini MC, Olson BA, Thomas W, Slavin JL. Flaxseed consumption influences endogenous hormone concentrations in postmenopausal women. Nutr Cancer. 2001;39(1):58-65.
  8. View Abstract: Lucas EA, Wild RD, Hammond LJ, Khalil DA, Juma S, Daggy BP, et al. Flaxseed improves lipid profile without altering biomarkers of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Apr2002;87(4):1527-32.
  9. View Abstract: Kinsella JE, et al. Dietary n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Amelioration of Cardiovascular Disease: Possible Mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr. Jul1990;52(1):1-28.
  10. View Abstract: Garg ML, et al. Alpha-linolenic Acid and Metabolism of Cholesterol and Long-chain Fatty Acids. Nutrition. Jun1992;8(3):208-10.
  11. View Abstract: Knapp HR, et al. The Antihypertensive Effects of Fish Oil. A Controlled Study of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplements in Essential Hypertension. N Engl J Med. Apr1989;320(16):1037-43.
  12. View Abstract: Geusens P, et al. Long-term Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. A 12-month, Double-blind, Controlled Study. Arthritis Rheum. Jun1994;37(6):824-29.
  13. View Abstract: Hibbeln JR, et al. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and depression: when cholesterol does not satisfy. Am j Clin Nutr. Jul1995;62(1):1-9.