Living with MS

Can Too Much Omega 3 Make Your Inflammatory Condition Worse?

I’ve seen cases of acne, psoriasis, eczema and other inflammatory conditions worsen when flax seed oil and other omega 3 rich foods are introduced into the diet. Here’s why:

Omega 3 essential fatty acids have many important functions in regards to human health such as: controlling blood clotting, building cell membranes in the brain and are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters.

The omega 3 fatty acids that come from plant sources, however, are not in their bioactive form. The type of omega 3 found in flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and soybeans is primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  The body must convert these short-chain ALA omega 3 fatty acids into EPA and DHA. This conversion is dependent on numerous key nutrients in a long sequence of complex, enzymatic reactions. Without these certain nutrients in the diet, ALA may actually follow a pro-inflammatory prostaglandin pathway.

In many stages of this conversion, the body requires B3, B6, B12, magnesium, zinc, biotin, calcium, chromium, and vitamin C.

The conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA is inhibited by a diet that is too high in omega 6 fatty acids such as: processed vegetable oils, a diet rich in saturated animal fats, trans fats, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, in times of infection or with exposure to carcinogens. It is also blocked by NSAIDS, tartrazine, salicylates and by the opiods in wheat and dairy.

This is the reason why many people with inflammatory conditions who start including flax seed oil in their diet without making any other dietary changes, often experience a worsening of symptoms. Anyone with impaired digestion, malabsorption issues, leaky gut syndrome, wheat or gluten allergies, autoimmune conditions, those with Celiac, crohn’s, colitis, or any other ailment of the intestinal system should be cautious about adding omega 3 rich foods to their diet if they suspect there could be vitamin deficiencies or malabsorption issues.

For this reason, digestion should be the first area to address and the diet needs to contain as much variety as possible! Include fruits and vegetables from all colours of the rainbow & beyond and supplement appropriately if there are deficiencies.