Flaxseed oil is gaining popularity for a variety of health and beauty reasons — including offering relief for dry eyes.
If you’ve had trouble keeping your eyes lubricated, then you know how irritating and aggravating it can be. You can’t seem to blink enough. People around you start to notice. Tasks like reading, driving, and just going about your daily routine can become much more difficult — and even painful.
Sometimes this dryness is due to something more serious (in which case lubricating eye drops won’t be much help), but one potential cause can be a deficiency in essential fatty acids.
(If drops don’t help, or if you’re experiencing other symptoms, please see your doctor.)
Now, before we get into how flaxseed oil can help dry eyes, let’s cover some basics about flaxseed oil.
Flaxseed Oil and the Importance of Essential Fatty Acids
Flaxseed oil is rich in something called essential fatty acids. These healthy fats are critical for the proper function of your cells and tissue. But the word “essential” means that your body does not create them on its own, so you must get them from a dietary source.
Essential fatty acids are important to every system and organ in the body — from cardiovascular health to skin health.
In fact, deficiencies in fatty acids can lead to a plethora of unwanted issues, including:
- Liver & kidney problems
- Immune dysfunction
- Reduced growth rates
- Poor mood
- Dry skin1
Now, the two most important fatty acids are omega-3 and omega-6. And a deficiency in either omega-3s or omega-6s could be the cause of your dry eyeballs. Luckily, flaxseed oil is loaded with omega-3s.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These essential fatty acids should be consumed on a daily basis. Omega-3s are critical to cell formation, and they also help improve circulation — helping to deliver other nutrients throughout your entire body. Adult women should get about 1.1 grams of omega-3s every day. This number increases slightly when you’re pregnant and/or lactating. Adult men should get about 1.6 grams daily.2
There are three primary types of omega-3s. The type found in plant oils, like flaxseed oil, are called alpha-linolenic acids (ALA). Some foods that high in ALAs are:
- Flaxseed and flax meal
- Wheat germ
Now, flaxseed is an ideal source for the omega-3s your body needs. It only takes about 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil to get your daily recommended amount of ALA. If you use ground flaxseed, 1 tablespoon is recommended.3 This is why the oil has gained so much popularity. It packs a powerful punch in a smaller amount.
Flaxseed Oil Benefits for Dry Eyes
Will flaxseed oil help your dry eyes?
You should let your doctor or optometrist make that decision. They can professionally examine your dry eyes and make sure there are no other underlying problems. If your doctor approves supplementing with flaxseed oil, then there are a few options.
You can find flaxseed oil in many supplements, or you can grind your own flaxseed to use in salads, smoothies, cereal, and more. (Don’t eat whole flaxseed because it’s hard to digest, and you won’t get all the benefits.) Grinding your own seeds can be very time-consuming, though. You can easily find healthy doses of flaxseed oil in supplements that are made especially for eye health. Note that flaxseed oil can be degraded by heat, light, and oxygen. Find a reputable, cold-pressed formula and keep it refrigerated for longevity.4
Research has suggested that flaxseed oil can improve the tear film formed by your tear ducts. It can also help decrease excess blinking when you’re suffering from dry eyes. It’s also been shown to help individuals with dry eyes spend more time comfortably reading, watching television, and looking at computer or phone screens.5
However, you should know that staring at screens for a prolonged period of time can also cause dry eyes. So, supplementing with flaxseed oil might help moisturize your eyes if your day includes lots of screen time.
Is Flaxseed Oil Better Than Fish Oil?
Fish oil is also high in omega-3s. There are some good reasons why people might prefer flaxseed oil to fish oil — the biggest being vegetarianism and veganism.
However, as almost anyone who has taken fish oil can tell you, it can carry a strong smell or taste — quite strong! Some people even complain of this odor lingering on their breath all day — and who wants that?
Fish oil can also lead to an upset stomach, headaches, and other gastrointestinal issues. While some people report some of these side effects with any kind of omega-3 supplements, they are far more common with fish oil — particularly the off-putting smell and lingering bad breath. It can even leave some people with foul-smelling sweat.6
So, it’s easy to see why many people prefer flaxseed oil.
Say Bye-Bye to Dry Eyes
So, stop wasting your money on eye drops if you haven’t talked with your doctor about flaxseed oil. It’s impossible to determine the root cause of your dry eyes without help from a medical professional. Also, you’ll want to make sure your supplement (ANY supplement) won’t conflict with any prescription medications you take for other conditions — you don’t want to mix meds without a doctor’s “go ahead.”
It’s likely that your doctor will approve flaxseed oil supplementation since it contains the important fatty acids that we need every day. So, schedule an appointment to see if you can start supplementing for relief.
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