Flaxseed oil: Benefits, side effects, and how to use

In this article, learn about the health benefits of flaxseed oil, including reduced cholesterol, fewer skin problems, and decreased inflammation.

We also cover the possible risks of using flaxseed oil.

What is flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed oil comes from ripened flaxseeds that manufacturers have cold pressed to extract the oil. Another name for flaxseed oil is linseed oil.

Flaxseed oil is commercially available in both capsule and liquid form. It contains a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

The body uses ALA from flaxseed oil and converts it in small amounts to other fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to a person’s physical and mental health.

Flaxseed oil does not contain the same nutrients as the whole seed. For example, flaxseeds contain fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B, but flaxseed oil does not.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, it is usually safe to consume flaxseed oil in limited amounts.

Minor adverse effects are possible depending on the dose and the person’s individual reaction. Possible adverse effects include:

  • gas
  • bloating
  • diarrhea

There is little information on whether or not flaxseed oil is safe to consume while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate flaxseed oil as a dietary supplement.

If someone wants to take flaxseed oil for a specific health condition, it is best to talk to a doctor first to make sure there are no possible interactions with their current medications or treatments.

A doctor may recommend stopping using flaxseed several weeks before surgery.

How to use flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil is sensitive to light and heat, so it is best to buy it in an opaque or dark glass bottle to protect it from the light and store it in a cool, dark place.

The taste of flaxseed oil is mild. People can drink a spoonful straight or incorporate it into dips and sauces.

People can also use flaxseed oil instead of other oils or butter for cooking. Flaxseed oil is sensitive to heat, so cooking with it will change the nutritional properties.

For those who do not want to add flaxseed oil to food, it is also available in capsule form as a supplement.


Flaxseed oil does not have the same nutritional value as whole flaxseeds. However, it is still a good source of ALA, which is one type of omega-3 fatty acid. Adverse effects are rare and typically mild.

Incorporating flaxseed oil into a healthful diet is fairly simple. It provides an omega-3 boost and may have some additional benefits, such as decreasing cholesterol and fighting inflammation.

Flaxseed oil supplements are available in some health food stores and online.

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