Flaxseed Oil during Pregnancy: Pros and Cons

Flaxseed oil was highly recommended for pregnant women's nutrition. However, new studies show perhaps it should be avoided.


Up until recently, if asked what to eat when pregnant, many experts recommended on flaxseed oil. However, a 2008 study conducted by the University of Montréal discovered flaxseed oil might have some harmful effects of pregnant women.

What are the benefits of flaxseed oil during pregnancy? What are the risks? The answers are below.

Benefits of Flaxseed Oil while Pregnant

Flaxseed oil can be found in almost every health products store. It can be purchased in its liquid form to be consumed with meals and salads, or in the form of pills. It is considered as a natural remedy, which can help with many conditions: high cholesterol levels, healthy living with diabetes, preventing depression, lowering the risk for stroke, improving cognitive performance, and more.

Flaxseed oil was also considered especially beneficial for pregnancy women. The reason for that is the high volume of omega-3 and other fatty acids it contains. Your baby needs plenty of these fatty-acids, and especially omega-3, since they comprises about 60% of his or her brain. It is also needed for the proper development of the baby’s vision, and other systems and organs.

The recommended daily intake of omega-3 for pregnant women is about 300mg. Each brand of flaxseed oil is slightly different from the other, but most of them claim that in one spoon there is more than this amount. With pills, it’s mostly about 100-150mg per pill (again, varies with each brand). Either way, these amounts mean that flaxseed oil, in each form, can help pregnant women have enough of the omega-3 their baby needs so much. These solutions seem even more attractive since it seems that most US adults only have about 80-100mg of omega-3 per day, way below the recommended amount for pregnant women.

Well, if flaxseed oil during pregnancy can help so much, what’s wrong with using it…?

Risks of Flaxseed Oil during Pregnancy

Indeed, up until not so long ago, flaxseed oil was almost always a part of the answer to the question what to eat when pregnant. However, in 2008 the University of Montréal published a large scale study about some of the pregnancy nutrition habits of 3,354 women. One piece of information of this research stood out. It showed that women who regularly had flaxseed oil in their second and third trimesters had a 12 percent risk for having preterm birth, compared to 3 percent of the pregnant women who didn’t have it. In other words, according to the research, the chance for having preterm birth is four times bigger for women who regularly have flaxseed oil in their pregnancy diet than the ones who don’t.

Flaxseed Oil: Yes or No?

Although the research has some concerning results, it should be stressed that additional study is required for more conclusive recommendations. It should also be noted that the results concerned women who regularly had flaxseed oil on their second and third trimester. It also seems that having flaxseeds in their natural form doesn’t have similar affects.

Still, until additional data arrives, it’ll be for the best to avoid flaxseed oil while pregnant and look for other sources of omega-3. Either way, don’t forget to consult with your doctor and nutrition expert before making any significant changes in your pregnancy diet.

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