I have a 20 month old son who I’m trying to feed the “right” way but I’m still learning and could use all the help I can get. The issue I’m struggling with now is regarding flaxseed. I’ve read about all the amazing health benefits and have been incorporating it into my son’s diet for a little while now. I recently learned that flaxseed contains phytoestrogens that could potentially be linked to impotence and infertility in men and are not recommended during pregnancy and early childhood. I’m kind of freaking out a little now. All the articles I read were from 7-10 years ago, I couldn’t find anything more recent. Can anyone shed some light on this for me???
As you correctly stated flaxseeds do indeed contain phytoestrogens, which exert a hormonal effect. Additionally flaxseeds also contain a substance called phytic acid which has a strong binding affinity to minerals. When phytic acid binds to a mineral it cannot be absorbed by the intestines and can potentially lead to mineral deficiencies. In my opinion flaxseeds are not suitable for infants and I would not recommend feeding your son with flaxseeds. The only nutrient found in flaxseeds which is of benefit to an infant is Omega 3. Omega 3’s are believed to contribute to an infants brain development, reduce the risk of developing allergies, and conditions such as ADHD. If you wish to provide this to your son, I would suggest looking specifically for an infant formula Omega 3 supplement. There are products available. Make sure it is specifically developed for infants and contains Omega 3 from fish sources(not flax) and contains EPA and DHA. Do not use Cod liver oil or adult fish oil supplements. When your son is old enough you can introduce oily fish into his diet so he can get Omega3 in his diet naturally. However due to mercury and other contaminants being found in many fish, it is very important that you choose the right fish, certain fish such as mackerel, swordfish and shark are not suitable for children, and many other fish such as farmed salmon and tinned tuna should only be consumed in limited amounts. At this point I would stick with a specifically developed Omega 3 supplement for infants.