Are there really side effects of flax seed oil? Definitely! But here's an even better, more important question to ask about flaxseed oil, "What are the real facts about flax?
Ever since flaxseed oil hit the nutritional supplement market in the mid-80s, it's been promoted as a cure-all for dozens of diseases and conditions. But, for the most part, those “health claims” are unsubstantiated and, at best, shaky. Plus, there are serious side effects of flax seed oil.
The Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Flax is, without a doubt, an abundant plant source of the omega 3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). But, in an effort to market and hype their products, promoters have long ignored or downplayed the many negative aspects of flaxseed and have created multiple misconceptions.
For example, flax contains only tiny quantities of the fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). And these two amazing fatty acids are the ones proven by research to be ultimately responsible for almost all of the extraordinary omega 3 health benefits.
For your body to manufacture EPA and DHA from the ALA in flaxseed requires a complex conversion process in the human digestive system. In actual fact, only ˝ of 1% of the ALA consumed can be converted into EPA and DHA. And that would be under ideal circumstances.
Considering the fact that Americans spend more money on digestive aids than they spend on public school education, ideal conversion conditions of even ˝ of 1% are extremely rare.
So, to get the EPA and DHA that's naturally found in a regular 3 to 4 oz. serving of omega 3 rich fish (salmon is the richest source), a person would have to drink gallons of flax seed oil. And that would be a very bad idea, since two of the side effects are flatulence and loose stools.
Flax Oil Side Effects
There’s plenty of research which questions the nutritional effectiveness of flax seed oil and illustrates the difference between flax and omega 3 rich fish oil. Two important studies were recently published in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In one study, flax seed oil, which is often sold as an anti-inflammatory product for reducing the pain and swelling of arthritis, was shown to be far less effective in treating inflammation than omega 3 fish oil. In most cases, flax oil even increases painful inflammation.
The other study found that while omega 3 fish oil can decrease the risk of cancer of the prostate, it was found that flax seed oil actually increases the risk of prostate cancer.
On close examination, most of the “studies” used by the flax seed industry to support their product claims is either anecdotal evidence or small, insignificant test tube and animal studies.
There have never been any long term, double blind, placebo controlled, peer reviewed human studies that show any nutritional benefits for flax seed oil. It’s also interesting to note that the most aggressive promoters are from Canada, the world’s largest producer and exporter of flax.
Fish Oil Health Benefits
Rather than risking your health with flaxseed, it makes better sense, both nutritionally and economically, to get the many amazing omega 3 benefits from omega 3 fish oil.
My recommendation for the best fish oil comes from the cold, clean North Atlantic waters. These pure fish oil capsules with balanced EPA and DHA can be found at the omega 3 web site.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.