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Flaxseed Oil Supplement Side Effects and Risks

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Flaxseed Oil Supplements verses Flaxseed Oil used for Cooking

While discussing the side effects of Flaxseed oil, it is important to distinguish between its two different uses. Flaxseed oil is often used as a cooking ingredient or just to replace hydrogenated vegetable oils. In these situations, Flaxseed oil is very safe and there are many health benefits when it is used to replace less healthy oils. Flaxseed oil is also used as a supplement, and consumed in much higher concentrations than is used for normal cooking. It is Flaxseed oils use as a supplement that will cause some people to experience side effects.

Health Benefits of Flaxseed Oil Supplements

Flaxseed oil is often taken in high doses for a few different reason. The main reason is just as nutrient supplement. Flaxseed oil is taken as a supplement mainly for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids as well as its high fiber content. Flaxseed oil is often taken to prevent or cure certain ailments including rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and less commonly for anxiety. There has been no scientific research that supports Flaxseed oil as preventing or curing any of these conditions, and at the doses typically taken, serious side effects may occur.

Flaxseed Oil Supplement Doses Required to Produce Side Effects

Most side effects of Flaxseed oil occur when individuals take more than 25 grams per day (about 4 teaspoons) for a few months. The most common side effect for those taking more than 25 grams per day is diarrhea and abdominal cramps. If the individual continues to take high doses, other side effects and symptoms may appear including those associated with malnutrition and dehydration.

Flaxseed Oil and Pregnancy

Flaxseed oil, when taken in supplement doses, should be avoided during pregnancy. Some research has shown a link between Flaxseed oil and premature birth. There is other research that suggests that Flaxseed oil, when taking while breastfeeding can cause digestion issues for the baby. This is very preliminary research, but in general all supplements should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding unless specifically approved by your doctor.

Other Precautions with Flaxseed Oil Supplements

Flaxseed oil should also be avoided for those that are having surgery in the near future, or shortly after surgery. It should also be discontinued for any person taking any medications for blood clotting as one of the side effects of Flaxseed oil is a change in clotting performance.

Flaxseed oil is a great additive for cooking, or as a replacement for hydrogenated vegetable oils. However, like most supplements, taking Flaxseed oil at higher doses can lead to many serious side effects. In the case of Flaxseed oil these include diarrhea, malnutrition and dehydration. Because of some side effects, Flaxseed oil should also be avoided during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or around the time of a surgery.

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