Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum, L.). Flaxseed oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are needed for health. Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Some researchers think flaxseed oil might have some of the same benefits as fish oil. But the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into EPA and DHA. The benefits of ALA, EPA, and DHA are not necessarily the same. Omega-3 fatty acids, usually from fish oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and arthritis. Studies are mixed about whether flaxseed oil is useful for the same conditions.

Getting a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is important. These essential fats are both examples of polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while many omega-6 fatty acids tend to contribute to inflammation. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 2 to 4 times fewer omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. However, the typical American diet tends to contain 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Many researchers believe this is a significant factor in the rising rate of inflammatory disorders in the United States.

Flaxseed (but not flaxseed oil) also contains a group of chemicals called lignans that may play a role in cancer prevention. In fact, flaxseed is the richest vegetable source of lignans.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Related Information

Supplements with Similar Side Effects

View List by Side Effect

Supplements with Similar Uses

View List by Use

Supplements with Similar Warnings

View List by Warning

Uses of this Supplement

Acne Anxiety Asthma Atherosclerosis Breast cancer Burns Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Crohn disease Depression Glaucoma Hypercholesterolemia High blood pressure Lyme disease Menstrual pain Migraine headache Peptic ulcer Psoriasis Systemic lupus erythematosus Ulcerative colitis

Learn More About

Nutrition

Review Date: 6/22/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M Editorial team.

Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2021 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.