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Flax Seed - Is it really safe?

by (90)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:40 PM
Created March 09, 2012 at 1:20 PM

I see a lot of people eating primal/paleo include flax seed in their diets. It's something I'm a bit leery of and am looking for some studies on the effects of flax, especially on the reproductive system, but the effects in general as well. (P.S. I'm pregnant.)

On March of Dimes website, they warn against flax seed:
"Flaxseed is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. But some medical experts recommend that women avoid flaxseed and flaxseed oils during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Some animal studies have shown that flaxseed can be harmful during pregnancy. Little research has been done in humans. But because we know so little, it's wise to avoid flaxseed if you are pregnant or breastfeeding."
http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/nutrition_omega3.html

And I know several dog breeders that avoid dog foods and supplements with flax because they had trouble with the breedings being successful when they used products with flax. I know we are humans, not dogs, but it makes me wonder how if and how it effects humans.

Yet I've also seen flax recommended on various websites as a "fertility food", and they suggested women take it if they were trying to get pregnant.

Is there any good, solid information out there about this?

Thanks!

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540 · April 02, 2014 at 4:03 AM

bravo, w3ndi.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add
540 · April 02, 2014 at 4:02 AM

wow - thanks for sharing. estrogen dominant pcos-er here that uses flax for baking and supplementation. i had no idea!

Thumbnail avatar
0 · April 01, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Steven, why in the world would you take the time to type a response just to criticize someone? Last time I checked we live in a country where people are free to do what they want, this includes our diets! If you don't agree with someones choices, DON'T DO IT! It's as simple as that.

5dba64f695ad44507d045b9f14373b68
0 · November 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM

@Namby Pamby

They aren't "plant uteri"; if anything, they are "plant eggs" and fruits are "plant uteri".

5dba64f695ad44507d045b9f14373b68
0 · November 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM

They aren't "plant uteri"; if anything, they are "plant eggs" and fruits are "plant uteri"...basic Botany 101...

Aa69579f867333b08158c70e25f7daf1
1816 · March 30, 2012 at 7:29 PM

The husband works in genetics and clinical research, and when I asked him to look into this, he said he would prefer if I avoided it. No great research out there, but enough that is iffy he didn't like it. So I do. I get my Omega 3 intake elsewhere.

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5132 · March 29, 2012 at 5:22 AM

He explains that below. See, seeds are little plant uteri. So seed oils are ipso facto estrogenic.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8
5132 · March 29, 2012 at 5:10 AM

Good question, Steve, I started wondering about that. Them islanders ain't getting any fatty fish. It's only them Icelanders that are eating cod liver oil. What you need n-3 for? Then it occurred to me: to "balance n-6". But why would you need to balance n-6? Well, because ur eating a pro-inflammatory PUFA diet. So cut out PUFA and we won't even need n-3.

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9
2544 · March 29, 2012 at 2:44 AM

LOL I say keep going it's actually enteraining... But unfortunately this is what people will think of when they think of Peat followers.

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4620 · March 29, 2012 at 2:31 AM

Dude, calm down!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3
12642 · March 09, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Saying "Developing a 'deficiency' for essential fatty acids is desirable" is just silly. Who debates that EFA's aren't essential? Show me a source for that. I don't disagree that excess pufa's are likely damaging in excess or that a whole food diet easily reaches adequate amounts, but I think you took your argument a little too far. And how are seed oils "inherently estrogenic"? Source for that?

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32518 · March 09, 2012 at 4:07 PM

I recommend Neptune Krill Oil as a safe Omega 3 source for my pregnant clients.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0
3946 · March 09, 2012 at 2:27 PM

No solid information here, but with those kids of warnings, I would avoid it.

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5
19120 · March 09, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Funny enough, flax seeds aren't actually high in Omega-3 FAs. They are high in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is a precursor to Omega-3 production in the body.

Flax is suggested for pregnant women because some people believe that it basically is high in Omega-3. In regards to this, it's (probably) not bad to have a good source of ALA, but it certainly isn't bioavailable Omega-3.

As your article suggests, there may be some aspects of flax that are dangerous.

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1
102 · March 09, 2012 at 2:45 PM

NO, Flax is not safe, nor are any PUFA in the diet in quantities over 5% of calories. The marketing of poly unsaturated fats through fish oils, ALA, and other oils are simply based on fallacy. Truth is, developing a "deficiency" for essential fatty acids is desirable. Scientists have been debating whether EFA's are essential for decades. In essence, they are a very new food. We've only been able to access most PUFA sources for less than 100 years through canola, fish, and other seed oils. Creating them takes a processing that we didn't have, and which couldn't have enabled us to consume the amount of PUFA, which they now consider optimal, or sufficient. The only exception are tribes and indigenous people from cold climates, such as the inuit, and eskimos, which consumed a good bit of PUFA. People who lived closer to the equator, historically had low pufa in the diet, got most of their fat from red meat, coconut, and low fat fish. But historical evidence is beside the point. There's obviously been dozens of species who adapted to a new food source and thrived, so what gives??? Well, in vitro, in vivo, animal studies, and other current science tells us the whole story. Not only do PUFA oxidize easily in the body, react with iron, and other heavy metals, they create an overabundance of prostaglandins, which modulate both inflammatory processes, and aromatase (converting testosterone to estrogen), they inhibit the thyroid gland, which stops the process of steroid synthesis, raising serum cholesterol to high levels, and with PUFA, subjecting the already high levels of cholesterol to oxidation. Not only are seed oils inherently estrogenic, as you can see, they increase the bodies production of estrogen, which upregulates inflammation, the cancer process, and heart disease. Hormones should be in a balance, dictated by you and your body, not by some factory or corporation 1000 miles away, and certainly not by ignorant use of endocrine disrupting foods. PUFA works inside the body much like it works outside, they oxidize, forming free radicals, and free fatty acids. PUFAs are used as paint varnish because their strong ability to oxidize, pulling in oxygen and becoming sticky, sticking to walls, for years, even decades! The less PUFAs consumed, the less free radicals made, the less oxidative stress and the less antioxidants needed. Seems like you have your answer: No, flax seed is not good for you.

5dba64f695ad44507d045b9f14373b68
0 · November 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM

@Namby Pamby

They aren't "plant uteri"; if anything, they are "plant eggs" and fruits are "plant uteri".

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8
5132 · March 29, 2012 at 5:22 AM

He explains that below. See, seeds are little plant uteri. So seed oils are ipso facto estrogenic.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3
12642 · March 09, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Saying "Developing a 'deficiency' for essential fatty acids is desirable" is just silly. Who debates that EFA's aren't essential? Show me a source for that. I don't disagree that excess pufa's are likely damaging in excess or that a whole food diet easily reaches adequate amounts, but I think you took your argument a little too far. And how are seed oils "inherently estrogenic"? Source for that?

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0
8057 · April 01, 2014 at 9:18 PM

I would NOT ingest flax while pregnant. The phytoestrogen component is REAL no matter what anyone says to the contrary. When I first adopted this way of eating, I made a daily flax-based muffin. After about a month or so I started bleeding. At first it was just spotting, but became gradually heavier and heavier, and I became quite anemic. The bleeding went on for 8 weeks, my doctor was no help "probably peri-menopause". So I started researching what might be causing the bleeding and found that flax can be associated with excessive female bleeding. I stopped the flax and 48 hours later the bleeding stopped, too.

Perhaps stopping bleeding at the time I stopped flax was coincidence, but if you are pregnant I would not take ANY chances. I do have PCOS, so I might be more sensitive to estrogen than most, but my experience tells me there is an active hormonal impact to ingesting flax. A little here or there, perhaps, but I don't think it was common to eat significant amounts of flax seed on a daily basis. So I would generally suggest skipping it until you have given birth and are done nursing. Then if you want to experiment with flax it's up to you.

7b9b5de13a30c823dae64a971cb14add
540 · April 02, 2014 at 4:02 AM

wow - thanks for sharing. estrogen dominant pcos-er here that uses flax for baking and supplementation. i had no idea!

Medium avatar
0
0 · April 01, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Steven, why in the world would you take the time to type a response just to criticize someone? Last time I checked we live in a country where people are free to do what they want, this includes our diets! If you don't agree with someones choices, DON'T DO IT! It's as simple as that.

Medium avatar
0
0 · April 01, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Steven, why in the world would you take the time to type a response just to criticize someone? Last time I checked we live in a country where people are free to do what they want, this includes our diets! If you don't agree with someones choices, DON'T DO IT! It's as simple as that.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f
0
20353 · March 09, 2012 at 6:44 PM

No need to consume flaxseed oil. However wild salmon is a good choice.

9e7add87143da721650fea82a736d06d
-2
102 · March 29, 2012 at 2:28 AM

All seeds are estrogenic. Why? Because think about what they are. Little tiny uteruses!!! They are full of estrogen. The top estrogenic foods are seeds/legumes/beans. http://www.totalityofbeing.com/FramelessPages/Articles/estrogeninfoods.html

You paleotards are getting on my last nerve!!! Eating friggin nuts and seeds, but you guys demonize beans. What the hell do you think nuts and seeds are? They're pretty much beans, but keep telling yourselves otherwise.

www.raypeat.com- these are all the sources you'll ever need to prove to yourself that essential fatty acids are not essential. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fishoil.shtml http://raypeat.com/articles/nutrition/oils-in-context.shtml

If you're still not convinced, let this thought sink in: in all the tropical countries in the world, closest to the equator, barely anybody gets "essential fatty acid" requirements. How the hell are you gonna get your EFA's when you are eating coconuts, fruit, and lean fish all day. The polynesians, melanesians, and kitivans are all eating this way right now.

Thumbnail avatar
0 · April 01, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Steven, why in the world would you take the time to type a response just to criticize someone? Last time I checked we live in a country where people are free to do what they want, this includes our diets! If you don't agree with someones choices, DON'T DO IT! It's as simple as that.

5dba64f695ad44507d045b9f14373b68
0 · November 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM

They aren't "plant uteri"; if anything, they are "plant eggs" and fruits are "plant uteri"...basic Botany 101...

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8
5132 · March 29, 2012 at 5:10 AM

Good question, Steve, I started wondering about that. Them islanders ain't getting any fatty fish. It's only them Icelanders that are eating cod liver oil. What you need n-3 for? Then it occurred to me: to "balance n-6". But why would you need to balance n-6? Well, because ur eating a pro-inflammatory PUFA diet. So cut out PUFA and we won't even need n-3.

Ef4c5b09fdccf73be575d3a0c267fdd9
2544 · March 29, 2012 at 2:44 AM

LOL I say keep going it's actually enteraining... But unfortunately this is what people will think of when they think of Peat followers.

76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9
4620 · March 29, 2012 at 2:31 AM

Dude, calm down!

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