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Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed, or Linum usitatissimum, is a plant-based food known for its heart-healthy fat content. The health benefits of flaxseed are also seen in its oil form. Read below to learn more about flaxseed oil and how it can enhance your health today.

What is flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed oil is derived from the flaxseed, which is rich in fiber and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (1).  This type of oil is available in liquid or capsule form and is known for helping reduce cholesterol and blood sugar. Not to mention that the antioxidant properties of the fatty acids in flaxseed oil can help treat digestive issues and inflammatory conditions. 

Is there research on the benefits of flaxseed oil?

A 2018 study shows that just 14 days of taking flaxseed oil greatly increased levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) (2). These fatty acids are known for their benefit to heart health as well as cognitive and visual development (3). When it comes to heart health, ALA shows potential to decrease the progression of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries (4). This fatty acid also shows potential to lower trans fats in the blood.

Research also shows that flaxseed oil can improve gut health. A 2018 animal study shows that adding flaxseed oil to the diet can enhance intestinal integrity and barrier function (5).  Healthy barrier function is vital to overall digestive health (6).
When it comes to metabolic health, flaxseed oil can help those at risk or with diabetes. A 2018 study shows that flaxseed oil supplementation for 12 weeks helped improve insulin metabolism and blood fat levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (7).
Finally, more recent research shows that flaxseed oil could even help prevent growth of certain cancer cells. A 2019 in vitro study shows that flaxseed oil can decrease growth of a variety of cancer cell lines (8). Also, applying flaxseed oil topically shows promise to improve symptoms and wrist function in those with carpal tunnel syndrome (9).

How much flaxseed oil should I consume daily?

Some experts suggest that any oral dosages of 30 grams or higher could cause loose stools and diarrhea (9). Therefore, start with a much smaller dose and be cautious as you increase the dose. Talk with your healthcare provider for suggestions on dosage recommendations. If applying topically for conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, apply 5 drops to the wrist twice daily for four weeks. 

Side effects and safety of flaxseed oil

Those taking blood clotting or blood pressure medicines should be cautious when taking flaxseed oil (9). This is because flaxseed oil can slow blood clotting and bleeding time as well as lower blood pressure. Also, if you’re having surgery, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a bleeding disorder, you should not take flaxseed oil. Children should not take flaxseed oil for more than three months. 

Bottom line

Flaxseed oil is a potent compound that provides a variety of health benefit potential. It can help heart health, gut health, and metabolic health, to name a few. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to see if flaxseed oil could enhance your health today.  

References
1. Mayo Clinic (October 25, 2017) “Flaxseed and flaxseed oil.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/dru...
2. Hodson, L., et al. (2018) “Effect of supplementation with flaxseed oil and different doses of fish oil for 2 weeks on plasma phosphatidylcholine fatty acids in young women.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(6): 832-840.
3. Oregon State University (last reviewed in June 2019) “Essential Fatty Acids.” https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mi...
4. Parikh, M., et al. (May 2019) “Dietary Flaxseed as a Strategy for Improving Human Health.” Nutrients, 11(5): 1171.
5. Zhu, H., et al. (May 2018) “Flaxseed Oil Attenuates Intestinal Damage and Inflammation by Regulating Necroptosis and TLR4/NOD Signaling Pathways Following Lipopolysaccharide Challenge in a Piglet Model.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 62(9): e1700814.
6. König, J., et al. (October 2016) “Human Intestinal Barrier Function in Health and Disease.” Clinical and translational Gastroenterology, 7(10): e196.
7. Mirmasoumi, G., et al. (April 2018) “The Effects of Flaxseed Oil Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation on Metabolic Status of Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Experimental and clinical endocrinology & diabetes: official journal, German Society of Endocrinology [and] German Diabetes Association, 126(4): 222-228.
8. Buckner, A.L., et al. (August 2019) “Treatment with flaxseed oil induces apoptosis in cultured malignant cells.” Heliyon, 5(8): e02251.
9. RxList (accessed January 13, 2020) “Flaxseed Oil.” https://www.rxlist.com/flaxsee...
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