FAQ: Is flaxseed of flaxseed oil safe to consume during pregnancy?



The lignans in flaxseed have the potential to exert mild estrogenic effects during pregnancy. Limited evidence from animal studies suggests adverse effects in the offspring of pregnant animals fed diets high in flaxseed. The Natural Health Products Division of Health Canada does not advise of any contraindications during pregnancy or lactation for flaxseed (whole or ground) at doses up to 45 g/day or flaxseed oil up to 32 g (2 tbsp) per day. Flaxseed is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential nutrient for women during pregnancy. Until more information is known, a sensible recommendation is for pregnant women to limit their daily intake of flaxseed and flaxseed oil to amounts that achieves the Adequate Intake for alpha-linolenic acid during pregnancy. The Adequate Intake for ALA is 1.4 g/day for pregnant women and 1.3 g/day for lactating women. Approximately 15 ml (1 tbsp, 7 g) of ground flaxseed provides 1.6 g of ALA, and 2.5 ml (½ tsp) flaxseed oil provides 1.3 g ALA.