Facebook Pixel

Flaxseed Oil – Is it a Good Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

By HERWriter
Rate This
Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

Flaxseed oil is made from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). Flaxseed oil is used in manufacturing to make paints, varnishes, linoleum and soap. The oil is used as cooking oil and to make margarine and may be applied to the skin to smooth roughness. Flaxseed oil is also used as a dietary supplement.

Why flaxseed oil is used
Flaxseed oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are both polyunsaturated fats. Both are necessary as part of a balanced diet. Omega-3 fatty acids often come from fish oil which contains an acid known as DHA. This type of omega-3 fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation and can help fight heart disease and arthritis.

Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Although the body has a limited ability to convert ALA to the more beneficial DHA, studies are not conclusive that flaxseed oil has the same benefits as fish oil.

In general, no significant benefits from flaxseed oil have been proven. Flaxseed oil is used for these conditions:

Cholesterol - Flaxseed oil is sometimes used to lower cholesterol. At least one study showed no benefit in taking flaxseed oil to lower cholesterol.
Heart disease – Some studies show that a diet rich in ALA (which is found in flaxseed oil) can lower the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. ALA may help lower inflammation in blood vessels, lower the risk of irregular heartbeats, and make portions of the blood less likely to form clumps that can block blood vessels.
Blood pressure – Some studies show omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, but it has not been proven that flaxseed oil provides this benefit.

How flaxseed oil is used
Flaxseed oil is available as liquid oil and in softgel capsules. The oil needs to be refrigerated to prevent it from going bad. The oil can also be damaged by heat and light and is generally sold in dark or non-transparent containers. High quality flaxseed oil should be made using freshly pressed seeds and should be processed and bottled away from light, extreme heat, and oxygen.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have been searching the internet to find out whether my Echiomega omega 3, 6 and 9 capsules are safe for me to taking whilst pregnant ? I spoke to my GP and she seemed to think I shouldn't have them. I suffer a lot with pain in joints, insides and fatigue and suffer from coeliac disease and am desparate to find a natural formula which might help me. The recommended amount on box says 2 - 4 daily. If I wasn't pregnant I would be taking 4, but at the moment I have just taken one a day until I know what to do. Any advice please ?

May 28, 2011 - 7:25am
EmpowHER Guest

Because of the shortfall in omega-3 intake, the health consequences that arise from such deficiencies, and also concerns regarding sustainability of many fish species, there has been great scientific interest in finding sustainable sources of plant-sourced omega-3 oils that are capable of significantly raising EPA and DHA levels. In November 2009, the European Commission acknowledged that echium seed oil complies with the Novel Food Legislation, granting it novel food status and therefore suitable for human consumption. Before November 2009, echium oil simply wasn’t available! Unlike flaxseed oil (and other plant oils), echium oil, derived from the seed of the plant Echium plantagineum, provides a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid SDA, which is the fatty acid derived from ALA and the precursor to EPA. Simply put, this fatty acid bypasses the rate-limiting conversion step in the synthesis of ALA to EPA and then on to DHA. Indeed, SDA has been shown to be around 5 times more effective than ALA in producing EPA. Furthermore, SDA in combination with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) – an anti-inflammatory omega-6 present in echium but not found in flaxseed oil – raises red blood cell EPA levels more efficiently than SDA alone, making echium oil a unique source of omega-3 and therefore superior to other available plant derived omega-3s. Taking echium seed oil on a daily basis provides the body with the best possible source from which essential long chain EPA and DHA can be made.

March 30, 2011 - 12:05am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.