Does Flax Seed Oil Cause Any Side Effects?

The side effects of flax seed oil can be significant, and as such it is not recommended for everybody. Although they can certainly be a healthy option, you'd be surprised to learn that many people are actually unable to reap flax seeds benefits, as their bodies are incapable of utilizing the Omega 3 fatty acids they provide.

For years flax seed oil has been promoted as a cure for everything from heart disease to depression to arthritis, and everything in between. All of the purported benefits are due to its high Omega 3 fatty acid content. It has been well established that our bodies need these essential fatty acids to build cell membranes, support brain function and promote heart health.

More important than the side effects of flax seed oil that we will discuss shortly is the fact that flax seed contains the Omega 3 fatty acid ALA, or alpha-linoleic acid.

The problem is in order for the body to utilize ALA to reap the many health benefits, it must be converted to EPA and DHA, the only two forms the body can use. Science shows that only half of 1% of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA! Does that sound like a lot to you?

So you can see that the benefits to your health would be minimal, unless it is consumed in huge amounts (which would undoubtedly cause serious side effects of flax seed oil!). 

The conversion process of ALA to usable forms EPA and DHA is a complex process that needs to happen under ideal circumstances. So if you are sick, or elderly, chances are you can't reap flax seeds benefits at all!

Is there a better option than flax seed oil?

More and more clinical data points to fish oil as the ideal source of essential Omega 3 fatty acids. The evidence is so overwhelming that none other than the FDA is recommending incorporating fish oil into our diets.

Why? The answer is quite simple. Fish oil is the only source of EPA and DHA, the two most beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids. These two important Omega 3s are readily available, and do not have to undergo a rigorous conversion process to be utilized by the body.

It makes a lot of sense...why take nutrient A that has to be converted into nutrient B, when you can just take nutrient B to begin with?

It is interesting to note some of the side effects of flax seed oil as well. Although it has been pushed as an anti-inflammatory for treating arthritis, it was actually shown to increase inflammation!

Another study showed that one of the side effects of flax seed oil was an increase risk of prostate cancer...in the same study fish oil was actually shown to be beneficial.

So you can see that fish oil is a much better choice than flax seed oil...not only does it contain the two essential Omega 3 fatty acids, but it has been shown to offer more than flax seeds benefits in clinical trials.

Some of the other side effects of flax seed oil might include stomach disorders, gastrointestinal problems, flatulence, allergic reactions and difficulty breathing.

You can learn more about fish oil on other pages of our site, specifically the Heart Health section where you can find out about all of your herbal and natural options for maintaining cardiovascular health.

Related Articles:

Health Benefits of Flaxseed


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