FAQ: I am on blood thinners. Can I eat flaxseed?

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Answer

Warfarin (brand name Coumadin®) is a common medication used to prevent blood clots. Since warfarin can interact with some foods and over-the-counter supplements, it is important to tell your doctor about any other medications or supplements that you take. Vitamin K is one of the nutrients with which warfarin can interact. For people taking warfarin, better control of blood clotting is achieved when dietary vitamin K intake remains fairly constant from day to day. The Institute of Medicine has set the Adequate Intake value for vitamin K at 120 µg per day for males and 90 µg per day for females. Flaxseed contains 4.3 µg of vitamin K per 100 g, so the vitamin K content is quite low relative to the recommended intake level. The omega-3 alpha-linolenic content of flaxseed oil has also been suggested to affect the international normalized ratio (INR; a measure of blood clotting) when taking warfarin. However, the research is limited and the amount that may pose a risk is uncertain. If you are taking warfarin, it is best to keep your diet as consistent as possible each day. Flaxseed is a healthy addition to the diet of patients taking warfarin, but should be consumed in moderation and a similar amount should be eaten daily. Patients on warfarin are encouraged to have their INR monitored regularly and to speak with their healthcare professional before making any substantial dietary changes.

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