Flaxseed Absorption

I just updated the High ALA Sources of VeganHealth.org with the following info from a study in the September issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

“There is some evidence that people 45 and older do not absorb the oil from ground flaxseeds as well as from flaxseed oil.2 The one study indicating this was only for four weeks and using 6 g of ALA per day. With smaller amounts and for longer periods, the difference might be negligible, but that hasn’t been tested.”

What does this mean? If you are age 45 or older, you might want to get your ALA from flaxseed oil, rather than ground flaxseed. Or you might want to wait until more research determines whether this study is applicable to a more typical situation of eating less ALA but on a more consistent basis.

2. Patenaude A, Rodriguez-Leyva D, Edel AL, Dibrov E, Dupasquier CM, Austria JA, Richard MN, Chahine MN, Malcolmson LJ, Pierce GN. Bioavailability of alpha-linolenic acid from flaxseed diets as a function of the age of the subject. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep;63(9):1123-9.

5 Responses to “Flaxseed Absorption”

  1. Flax Absorption Past Age 45 | Vegan.com Says:

    […] omega 3s from ground flax. It may therefore be advantageous to keep your age under 45 at all times. Link. Spread the […]

  2. D. Says:

    What about an algae-based DHA supplement?

  3. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Algae-based DHA supplements are absorbed just fine. It’s the fiber in the flaxseeds that decrease the absorption. There is no fiber in DHA supplements.

  4. ken bruder Says:

    I have a question. Hopefully you will be able to help me out.

    How is flax seed oil absorped? Is it absorped directly into the blood stream or by a chylomicrons?? Thanks for your help, Jack

  5. Jack Norris RD Says:


    According to the textbook Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, 3rd Edition (2000), by Groff & Gropper, fatty acids longer than 12 carbons become part of chylomicrons. Since the omega-3s in flaxseed oil are 18 carbons long, that would include them.

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