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Home > Anti-aging Medicine > Flaxseed

Flaxseed

Note:  Please take a minute to read my essential fatty acids (EFA) page, which will clear up some of the confusion regarding EFAs.

Related Topics:

Specific Recommendations:

Omega 3 in various fish oil capsules as a percentage of the total fat in the capsule

Brand

Total omega 3 EPA DHA Other omega 3 (DPA and ALA)
Twinlab TwinEPA (vc) 1,000 mg capsule 840/1000 = 84% 600/1000 = 60% 240/1000 = 24% 0%
Jarrow Max DHA * 500 mg capsule 400/500 = 80% 100/500 = 20% 250/500 = 50% 50/500 = 10%
Sun Ultra DHA 50 * 500 mg capsule 400/500 = 80% 100/500 = 20% 250/500 = 50% 50/500 = 10%
Sun Ultra 30/20 * 1,000 mg capsule 600/1000 = 60% 300/1000 = 30% 200/1000 = 20% 100/1000 = 10%
Source Naturals EPA 1,000 mg capsule 600/1000 = 60% 450/1000 = 45% 100/1000 = 10% 50/1000 = 5%
RxOmega-3 1,000 mg capsule 630/1065 = 59% 400/1065 = 38% 200/1065 = 19% 30/1065 = 3%
LEF Mega EPA 1,200 mg capsule 700/1200 = 58% 400/1200 = 33% 300/1200 = 25% 0%
Enzymatic Eskimo-3 500 mg capsule 200/500 = 40% 87/500 = 17% 55/500 = 11% 58/500 = 12%
NSI Superior EFA 1,000 mg capsule 400/1000 = 40% 100/1000 = 10% 250/1000 = 25% 50/1000 = 5%
Carlson Norwegian Salmon Oil 1,000 mg capsule 375/1000 = 38% 180/1000 = 18% 125/1000 = 13% 70/1000 = 7%
Twinlab Super MaxEPA 1,200 mg capsule  375/1200 = 31% 225/1200 = 19% 150/1200 = 12% 0%
Sun Ultra Omega 3 1,000 mg capsule 300/1000 = 30% 180/1000 = 18% 120/1000 = 12% 0%
Zone Perfect 1000 mg capsule 267/1000 = 27% 160/1000 = 16% 107/1000 = 11%  
Now Foods Salmon Oil 400/2000 = 20% 240/2000 = 12% 160/2000 = 8% 0%

Vegetable oils (note that the omega 3 is in the form of ALA.  See "General Information" below for why this might not be as good)

Source Natural Omega Flax 1,000 mg capsule 570/1000 = 57% 0% 0% 570/1000 = 57% (ALA)
Canola Oil 10% 0% 0% 10% (ALA)

vc - Vitacost price
* Molecular Distillation

General Information:

Note:  The omega-3 in flaxseed oil is in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which can convert to EPA and DHA in the body but it appears that you need relatively large amounts of ALA to form enough EPA and DHA to meet the recommendations for these fatty acids.  Refs:

  • Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil (Linum usitatissimum) - M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • Omega 3: Implications in Human Health and Disease - PowerPak.com - "It should be noted, however, that flaxseed or flaxseed oil does not contain EPA or DHA. Thus flaxseed and fish oil are not interchangeable sources of omega 3 fatty acids per se"
  • Nutriques - Fish Oils - nutrition.cornell.edu - "In the body, LNA can be converted to EPA and DHA. However it appears that you need relatively large amounts of LNA to form enough EPA and DHA to meet the recommendations for these fatty acids. Exactly how much more has not been determined, because the rate of conversion of LNA to EPA and DHA in humans is not known. It is very likely that the rate of conversion varies by age, gender, and type of tissue in the body (for example, the rate in the brain may be higher than the rate in the liver). Therefore, taking large amounts of LNA may not be an effective alternative to consuming DHA and EPA"

News & Research:

  • Impressive Antihypertensive Effect With Flaxseed - Medscape, 11/6/12 - "Adding flaxseed to the diets of patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) resulted in large drops in blood pressure (BP) of around 10 mm Hg systolic and 7 mm Hg diastolic after six months ... Such reductions would be expected to result in around a 50% fall in the incidence of stroke and a 30% reduction in MI ... They randomized 110 patients with PAD and an ankle-brachial index (ABI) <0.9 to milled flaxseed (30 g/day) in the form of bagels, muffins, and buns (n=58) or placebo products (n=52), made from wheat with a similar flavor, for one year"
  • Flax may fill you up for longer, aid weight management - Nutra USA, 2/1/12
  • Plant compound reduces breast cancer mortality, study suggests - Science Daily, 9/13/11 - "The most important type of phytoestrogens in our Western diet are lignans, which are contained in seeds, particularly flaxseeds, as well as in wheat and vegetables. In the bowel, these substances are turned into enterolactone, which is absorbed by the mucous tissue and which was determined by the Heidelberg researchers as a biomarker in the patients' blood ... Compared to the study subjects with the lowest enterolactone levels, the women with the highest blood levels of this biomarker had an approximately 40 percent lower mortality risk ... Another observation that may be interpreted in this direction is that Asian women are less frequently affected by breast cancer. Their soy-rich diet contains large amounts of another type of phytoestrogens, isoflavones. On the other hand, scientists fear that isoflavones might imitate the growth-promoting properties of real hormones and, thus, accelerate hormone-dependent tumors such as breast cancer and prostate cancer. "It has not yet been finally determined whether lignans in the body imitate the hormone effect or, on the contrary, counteract it,""
  • ALA-DHA conversion negligible, say fatty acids experts - Nutra USA, 3/25/09 - "Alpha-linolenic acid, (ALA) does not convert to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at levels that confer any physiological benefit ... Each type of omega-3 has distinct nutritional functions. Nevertheless, seafood/algal omega-3s – also known as long-chain omega-3s – are more potent than terrestrial plant sources of omega-3s and boast certain critical functions that terrestrial plant-based omega-3s simply cannot perform"
  • Flax and borage oil may boost skin health from within - 10/3/08 - "the researchers noted a significant decrease in reddening of the skin in the flaxseed and borage oil groups of 45 and 35 per cent, respectively, compared to baseline values. No differences were recorded in the placebo group ... blood flow to the in skin also decreased in the oil groups ... Measurements of water loss from the skin showed that the oil supplements were associated with decreases of about 10 per cent after six weeks, with only the flaxseed oil group showing further decreases at the end of 12 weeks (25 per cent) ... The roughness and scaling – dry peeling skin – was also decreased significantly after 12 weeks of flaxseed and borage oil supplementation, with no differences in the placebo group" - [Abstract]
  • Flaxseed Oil Pills vs. Fish Oil Pills - WebMD, 9/12/08 - "As expected, blood levels of EPA and DHA rose in the fish oil group, and ALA rose in the flaxseed oil group. EPA levels also rose in the flaxseed oil group, but only at the higher doses (2.4 to 3.6 grams per day). The researchers write that it's "quite attainable" to get that much ALA from foods without taking supplements ... Since flaxseed oil doesn't contain EPA, the firefighters' bodies must have converted some of the ALA into EPA. That didn't seem to happen at the lower doses of flaxseed oil ... DHA was a different story. The flaxseed oil group didn't get any increase in DHA levels; DHA only rose in the fish oil group"
  • Alpha-linolenic acid reduces risk of nonfatal MI - theheart.org, 7/9/08 - "ALA is an intermediate-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is often overshadowed by the more famous long-chain members of the n-3 family, namely EPA and DHA acids that are found in fish oils ... ALA intake, g/day ... 1.79 ... Relative risk of MI ... 0.43 ... The relationship between ALA and myocardial infarction was nonlinear ... We see a dose effect, but only up to about 0.7% of adipose tissue, which corresponds to about 1.8 g/day. Increasing intake further was not associated with increased protection" - See flax seed at Amazon.com.
  • Flaxseed May Ease Hot Flashes - WebMD, 8/30/07
  • Alpha-Linolenic Acid May Lower Risk of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy - Medscape, 1/7/08 - "Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid found in many vegetable oils, including flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil ... Relative to adults in the lowest quintile of alpha-linolenic acid intake (< 0.61 g/day), the multivariate-adjusted odds of having peripheral neuropathy was 0.54 for subjects in the fourth quintile (1.35 - 2.10 g/day) of intake and 0.40 for adults in the fifth quintile (2.11 g/day or higher)"
  • Flaxseed Shows Potential To Reduce Hot Flashes - Science Daily, 8/29/07 - "The frequency of hot flashes decreased 50 percent over six weeks, and the overall hot flash score decreased an average 57 percent for the women who completed the trial. Participants also reported improvements in mood, joint or muscle pain, chills and sweating; which significantly improved their health-related quality of life" - See flax seed at Amazon.com.
  • Flaxseed shows potential against hot flushes - Nutra USA, 8/29/07
  • Flaxseed May Curb Prostate Tumor Growth - WebMD, 6/4/07 - "As measured by how fast their cancer cells were dividing, tumors grew about 30% to 40% slower in the men taking flaxseed"
  • Plant Estrogen May Cut Breast Cancer - WebMD, 3/20/07 - "A diet rich in estrogen-like compounds found in flaxseed, tea, and many plants may help curb breast cancer after menopause ... Women with the highest lignan intake were 17% less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer during the study than those with the lowest intake"
  • Crushed and ground flax seeds more bioavailable - Nutra USA, 12/6/05
  • Flax lignans: a cure for hair loss? - Nutra USA, 5/9/05 - "Ten male sufferers of androgenetic alopecia aged between 20- and 70- years received a 50mg daily dose of SDG in the form of one 250 mg capsule of Acatris’ LinumLife Extra ... eight of the participants reported a modest improvement in their hair loss condition, one reported a great improvement and one reported no effect at all"
  • Flaxseed May Lower Sudden Cardiac Death Risk - WebMD, 11/8/04
  • Flaxseed Helps Prevent Common Men’s Condition - Healthwell Exchange Daily News, 6/10/04
  • Flaxseed Reduces Cholesterol in Postmenopausal Women - New Hope Natural Media, 3/28/03 - "The authors suggested that heating of flaxseed in the baking process might change some of its beneficial components into forms more available to the body"
  • Flaxseed Might Block Prostate Cancer - WebMD, 11/11/02 - "A study of mice shows that flaxseed in the diet helped improve prostate tumors (reducing their size and severity), and even prevented some of the mice from developing the disease ... men who ate ground flaxseed for 34 days had a drop in levels of testosterone, which helps prostate cancers grow, and in prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, a marker for prostate cancer"
  • New Evidence That Dietary Soy And Flaxseed Have Positive Effect On Obesity And Diabetes - Intelihealth, 4/22/02 - "These data suggest that diets rich in soy protein and flaxseed have beneficial effects on many aspects of obesity and diabetes"
  • Hot Flash Relief - WebMD, 4/10/02 - "Soy may give hot-flash relief ... Flaxseed is another option ... Flaxseed oil won't work, because oil does not contain phytoestrogens, the plant form of estrogen. You must grind the flaxseeds; if you don't, the whole seeds will just pass through your digestive system"
  • Flax is Not the Best Omega-3 Fat - mercola.com, 4/3/02
  • Flaxseed May Fight Breast Cancer In Postmenopausal Women - Intelihealth, 8/30/01
  • Small Study Supports Flaxseed As Cancer Fighter - Intelihealth, 8/15/01 - "Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found, in a study of 25 men with prostate cancer, that even short-term diet changes resulted in tumor cells that didn't divide as quickly as those in people not on the diet ... this diet was really having substantial changes within 34 days ... Coupled with low-fat eating, the diet included three tablespoons a day of finely ground flaxseed sprinkled on cereal or mixed into juices, yogurt or applesauce"
  • A Grain of Hope for Prostate Cancer - WebMD, 7/11/01 - "Ground flaxseed -- a grain that was a dietary staple in the 19th century -- may prevent the growth of prostate cancer and speed the death of tumor cells when combined with a low-fat diet"
  • A Muffin a Day for Breast Cancer? If It Contains Flaxseed Oil, May Have Benefits Similar to Potent Drug - WebMD, 12/8/00 - "the investigators found that flaxseed oil's ability to reduce tumor growth is comparable to tamoxifen."

Abstracts:

  • Flaxseed supplementation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot randomized, open labeled, controlled study - Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Mar 17:1-9 - "The significant mean differences were reached in hepatic markers between flaxseed and control group, respectively: ALT [-11.12 compared with -3.7 U/L; P< 0.001], AST [-8.29 compared with -4 U/L; p < 0.001], GGT [-15.7 compared with -2.62 U/L; p < 0.001], fibrosis score [-1.26 compared with -0.77 kPa; p = 0.013] and steatosis score [-47 compared with -15.45 dB/m; p = 0.022]" - See flax seed at Amazon.com.
  • Effects of flaxseed supplements on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trial - Clin Nutr. 2015 May 29 - "Reduction of SBP was significant with flaxseed powder (WMD: -1.81 mmHg, 95% CI: -2.03 to -1.59, p < 0.001) but not oil (WMD: -4.62 mmHg, 95%CI: -11.86 to 2.62, p = 0.211) and lignan extract (WMD: 0.28 mmHg, 95% CI: -3.49 to 4.04, p = 0.885). However, DBP was significantly reduced with powder and oil preparations (WMD: -1.28 mmHg, 95% CI: -2.44 to -0.11, p = 0.031, and -4.10 mmHg, 95%CI: -6.81 to -1.39, p = 0.003, respectively), but not with lignan extract (WMD: -1.78 mmHg, 95% CI: -4.28 to 0.72, p = 0.162) ... This meta-analysis of RCTs showed significant reductions in both SBP and DBP following supplementation with various flaxseed products"
  • Potent Antihypertensive Action of Dietary Flaxseed in Hypertensive Patients - Hypertension. 2013 Oct 14 - "patients (110 in total) ingested a variety of foods that contained 30 g of milled flaxseed or placebo each day over 6 months. Plasma levels of the ω-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid and enterolignans increased 2- to 50-fold in the flaxseed-fed group but did not increase significantly in the placebo group ... SBP was ≈10 mm Hg lower, and DBP was ≈7 mm Hg lower in the flaxseed group compared with placebo after 6 months. Patients who entered the trial with a SBP ≥140 mm Hg at baseline obtained a significant reduction of 15 mm Hg in SBP and 7 mm Hg in DBP from flaxseed ingestion ... α-linolenic acid levels correlated with SBP and DBP, and lignan levels correlated with changes in DBP"
  • Dietary Fat, Fatty Acids, and Risk of Prostate Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study - Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Apr;22(4):697-707 - "NIH-American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Diet and Health Study. Diet was assessed at baseline with self-administered food-frequency questionnaires ... Total fat and mono- and polyunsaturated fat intakes were not associated with incidence of prostate cancer. Saturated fat intake was related to increased risk of advanced prostate cancer (HRQuintile 5 vs. Qunitile 1 (Q1 vs. Q5), 1.21; 95% CI, 1.00-1.46; Ptrend = 0.03) and fatal prostate cancer (HRQ5 vs. Q1, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.01-2.15; Ptrend = 0.04). α-Linolenic acid (ALA) intake was related to increased risk of advanced prostate cancer (HRQ5 vs. Q1, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.04-1.31; Ptrend = 0.01). Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) intake was related to decreased risk of fatal prostate cancer (HRQ5 vs. Q1, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.64-1.04; Ptrend = 0.02)" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Consumption of flaxseed, a rich source of lignans, is associated with reduced breast cancer risk - Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Jan 25 - "A food frequency questionnaire was used to measure the consumption of flaxseed and flax bread by 2,999 women with breast cancer and 3,370 healthy control women who participated in the Ontario Women's Diet and Health Study (2002-2003) ... Consumption of flaxseed was associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk (odds ratio (OR) = 0.82, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.69-0.97), as was consumption of flax bread (OR = 0.77, 95 % CI 0.67-0.89)"
  • Plasma and dietary omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and heart failure risk in the Physicians' Health Study - Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep 5 - "The mean age was 58.7 y at blood collection. In a multivariable model, plasma α-linolenic acid (ALA) was associated with a lower risk of HF in a nonlinear fashion (P-quadratic trend = 0.02), and the lowest OR was observed in quintile 4 (0.66; 95% CI: 0.47, 0.94). Plasma EPA and DHA were not associated with HF, whereas plasma docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) showed a nonlinear inverse relation with HF for quintile 2 (OR: 0.55; 95% CI: 0.39, 0.79). Dietary marine n-3 FAs showed a trend toward a lower risk of HF in quintile 4 (HR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.64, 1.02) and a nonlinear pattern across quintiles. Fish intake was associated with a lower risk of HF, with RRs of ~0.70 for all categories of fish consumption greater than one serving per month" - Note:  alpha linolenic acid is the omega-3 in flaxseed oil.  See flax seed at Amazon.com.
  • The relation of {alpha}-linolenic acid to the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis - Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Mar 25 - "High ALA intakes or high blood and adipose tissue concentrations of ALA may be associated with a small increased risk of prostate cancer" - Note: I've never been a fan of ALA (medium-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as flaxseed oil) over fish oil (long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) but I thought that was the only reason people took it and now even that's seems to be proven wrong.
  • Red blood cell membrane alpha-linolenic acid and the risk of sudden cardiac arrest - Metabolism. 2009 Apr;58(4):534-40 - "Higher levels of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in red blood cell membranes are associated with lower risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Whether membrane levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a medium-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, show a similar association is unclear ... Higher membrane alpha-linolenic acid was associated with a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest: after adjustment for matching factors and smoking, diabetes, hypertension, education, physical activity, weight, height, and total fat intake, the odds ratios corresponding to increasing quartiles of alpha-linolenic acid were 1.7 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-3.0), 1.9 (95% CI, 1.1-3.3), and 2.5 (95% CI, 1.3-4.8) compared with the lowest quartile. The association was independent of red blood cell levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, and linoleic acid. Higher membrane levels of alpha-linolenic acid are associated with higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest" - Note:  Alpha-linolenic acid (a medium-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid) is the omega-3 found in vegetable sources such as flaxseed as opposed to the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) forms (long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) found in fish oils.
  • Effects of dietary flaxseed on intestinal tumorigenesis in apc(min) mouse - Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(2):276-83 - "COX-1 and COX-2 expression in the colon samples from the flaxseed meal group were significantly lower (P < 0.05) as compared to the corn meal group. Dietary flaxseed may be chemopreventive for intestinal tumor development in Apc(Min) mice possibly by increasing omega -3 fatty acid levels, lignans, and decreasing COX-1 and COX-2 levels"
  • Flaxseed combined with low-dose estrogen therapy preserves bone tissue in ovariectomized rats - Menopause. 2009 Jan 29 - "Flaxseed + low-dose estrogen therapy resulted in the highest bone mineral density and peak load at the lumbar vertebrae, with no effect on bone mineral density or strength in the tibia and femur. Flaxseed and flaxseed + low-dose estrogen therapy resulted in significantly higher relative levels of alpha-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid and lower levels of linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, and n-6/n-3 ratio in the lumbar vertebrae and tibia compared with all other groups"
  • Flaxseed Supplementation (Not Dietary Fat Restrict...[Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008] - PubMed Result - Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3577-3587 - "Men were on protocol an average of 30 days. Proliferation rates were significantly lower (P < 0.002) among men assigned to the flaxseed arms. Median Ki-67-positive cells/total nuclei ratios (x100) were 1.66 (flaxseed-supplemented diet) and 1.50 (flaxseed-supplemented, low-fat diet) versus 3.23 (control) and 2.56 (low-fat diet) ... Findings suggest that flaxseed is safe and associated with biological alterations that may be protective for prostate cancer"
  • Flaxseed oil prevents trans-10, cis-12-conjugated linoleic acid-induced insulin resistance in mice - Br J Nutr. 2008 Aug 19:1-8 - "The present results suggest that some adverse effects of CLA may be due to n-3 PUFA deficiency and that these can be corrected by a concomitant increase in the intake of alpha-linolenic acid, 18 : 3n-3"
  • Effect of green tea on kidney tubules of diabetic rats - Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb 6;:1-8 - "It has been documented that green tea (GT) and its catechin components improve renal failure and inhibit the growth of mesangial cells ... GT treatment significantly (P < 0.01) reduced the serum glucose, glycosylated protein, serum creatinine and blood urea N levels by 29.6 (sem 3.7), 22.7 (sem 5.2), 38.9 (sem 10) and 41.7 (sem 1.9) %, respectively ... the GT-treated group showed a significant 44 (sem 10.8) % higher creatinine clearance (Ccr) ... GT reduced the urea N, creatinine, glucose and protein excretion rates by 30 (sem 7.6), 35.4 (sem 5.3), 34.0 (sem 5.3) and 46.0 (sem 13.0) % compared with the 12 weeks diabetic group. Administration of GT to 12 weeks diabetic rats significantly (P < 0.001) prevented (99.98 (sem 0.27) % less) the accumulation of glycogen in the kidney tubules. These results indicate that in STZ diabetes, kidney function appears to be improved with GT consumption which also prevents glycogen accumulation in the renal tubules, probably by lowering blood levels of glucose. Therefore, GT could be beneficial additional therapy in the management of diabetic nephropathy"
  • Dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil lowers blood pressure in dyslipidaemic patients - Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan 31 - "Supplementation with ALA resulted in significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels compared with LA"
  • Flaxseed Oil Increases the Plasma Concentrations of Cardioprotective (n-3) Fatty Acids in Humans - J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1):83-7 - "This study demonstrates the efficacy of the conversion of ALA to EPA and DPA in a minority population with chronic disease"
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