Category Archives: Womens health

Is taking flax safe for pregnant women? Should I be taking flax if I’m pregnant?

I recently recieved this question from a customer:

“I have just been sold a bottle of Waihi Bush flax bloom by my naturopath when I told her I was trying for a baby. However, I am concerned about taking it due to the huge amount of information on the internet saying that flax seed oil is not safe in pregnancy due to the phytoestrogens. I have not been able to find a single site stating that flax seed oil is safe in pregnancy. I have found similar information about Evening Primrose Oil, which flax bloom also contains.”

“Can you shed any light on why you advise this product for pregnant women when there is so much advice against taking both flax seed and evening primrose oils in pregnancy? Obviously I want to make the right decision for me and my baby’s health.”

My answer – It’s really important to make a distinction between whole flax seed and flax seed oil.

Yes – the whole flax seed and our flax fibre do contain significant amounts of plant oestrogens called lignans – which have been shown to be very effective as part of your treatment for breast and prostate cancer (more on that later and see “Flax Seed Fibre and Prostate Health”).

One study with mice fed flax seed did give a small reduction (but not statistically significant) in birth weight, so I have put a caution on our flax fibre to talk to your health professional before using this in pregnancy.

Flax seed OIL, on the other hand, only contains very small amounts of lignans so there are no issues around using the oil when you are pregnant. Lignans are water soluble, which is why they do not go into the oil – you would get about the same amount of lignans from a serving of whole grain bread or a brassica.

The caution around using Evening Primrose oil during pregnancy is because the prostaglandins which the body produces to initiate birth are made from the GLA (secondary Omega-6) in Evening Primrose oil. This raises the concern that too much GLA might stimulate early termination – however prostaglandins are always acting in opposition to each other – so the Omega-6 ones which are used to initiate birth are opposed by the ones made from Omega-3, which the body uses to keep the pregnancy going.

So your body MUST have the building blocks to produce both prostaglandins, so as usual, its all about the BALANCE between Omega-6 and Omega-3 (see “The balancing act – Omega-3:Omega-6”).

I have carefully formulated flax bloom to contain the right proportions of secondary Omega-6 and Omega-3 to give balanced supply for the body to make the prostaglandins it needs for the stage your pregnancy is at. flax bloom also contains more of the primary Omega-3 to bring your body into balance during your pregnancy.

Conclusion – you should absolutely be taking flax bloom when you are planning to be or are pregnant. If you don’t eat additional Omega-3 your baby will rob your body of Omega-3 to build its brain and leave you short and vulnerable to post natal depression. Omega-3s are used by your body to make the prostaglandins that wind you down from stress, so all the “flax seed oil” babies I have come across are much more placid than usual and really switched on.


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Filed under How Omega-3's work, Pregnancy, Womens health