What Is Ahiflower Oil?

This omega-3 fatty acid source is a vegan alternative to fish oil

Ahiflower oil and softgels

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Ahiflower oil is a healthy, vegan oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids that is fast becoming a favored alternative to fish oil and flaxseed oil. Derived from the seeds of the corn gromwell plant (Buglossoides arvensis), ahiflower oil is set apart from these other omega-3 sources because of its high stearidonic acid (SDA) content—a characteristic that likely makes it more effective in boosting fatty acid levels.

What Is Ahiflower Oil Used For?

As a group, omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce chronic inflammation that contributes to the onset and progression of many diseases, including:

Different omega-3 fatty acids have different bioactive properties. The SDA found in ahiflower oil (as well as in hemp seed oil, blackcurrant oil, and spirulina) breaks down in the body and is converted into:

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a primary structural component of the brain, skin, and retina
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is known to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides

SDA has an advantage over a more common plant-based omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, edamame, pine nuts, and canola oil. In order for ALA to be broken down into DHA and EPA, it has to first be broken down into SDA. It is an inefficient process in which only 5% to 8% of ALA is converted.

Because of this, ALA is the one omega-3 fatty acid that does not confer cardiovascular benefits, according to a 2018 review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

By contrast, the SDA in ahiflower effectively shortcuts the process. In fact, almost all of the SDA that enters the bloodstream is converted into DHA and EPA.

And, unlike fish oil, ahiflower oil also contains a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids, which play a major role in brain function, bone health, and the prevention of type-2 diabetes.

Current Research

Because ahiflower oil’s use as a dietary supplement is relatively new, few scientific studies have evaluated its health properties.

Among the available research, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science compared the fatty acid composition in 40 adults provided either ahiflower oil or flaxseed oil for 28 days. People given ahiflower oil had far higher concentrations of DHA and EPA in blood and tissue samples.

A 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients similarly demonstrated the anti-inflammatory benefits of ahiflower oil over other plant-based oils.

For this study, 88 adults were given a daily supplement of either ahiflower oil, sunflower oil, or a combination of the two oils for 28 days. By the study’s end, the adults treated with ahiflower oil only had higher concentrations in an anti-inflammatory compound known as interleukin-10 (IL-10). Increased IL-10 concentrations correspond to an improvement in certain inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease.

Possible Side Effects

Due to a paucity of research, little is known about the long-term safety of ahiflower oil. Though generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), higher doses of ahiflower oil may slow blood clotting, increasing the risk of easy bruising and bleeding.

For this reason, ahiflower oil should be used with caution if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) like Coumadin (warfarin) or Plavix (clopidogrel). You should also stop taking ahiflower oil supplements two weeks before scheduled surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.

Ahiflower oil may be advantageous to people with a fish or shellfish allergy who are more likely to be allergic to fish oil. In comparison, the risk of allergy to plant-based oils like ahiflower oil is low.

Ahiflower Oil softgels
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage and Preparation

Ahiflower oil is typically sold as softgel capsules. They are not dosed in the same way as vitamins—that is, in milligrams (mg) or international units (IU)—but are instead measured by their constituent fatty acids in either grams (g) or milligrams. Ahiflower oil is also sometimes sold in liquid form that is dispensed by the teaspoonful.

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of ahiflower oil. Studies have used up to 9 g (9,000 mg) daily for 28 days. Even so, there is no evidence that higher doses are any more effective than lower ones.

Most manufacturers recommend up to four softgels per day. However, be advised that the amount of stearidonic acid per capsule can vary. Some brands contain less than 300 mg of SDA per capsule, while others deliver in excess of 500 mg per capsule.

Always read the product label to determine the exact amount of SDA per ahiflower oil capsule.

What to Look For

Because dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States, the quality can vary from one brand to the next. To ensure quality and safety, opt for supplements that have been voluntarily submitted for testing by an independent certifying body like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International.

If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, check that the softgels are made with vegetable-based gelatin rather than gelatin from pork or beef cartilage.

Storage and Expiration

Ahiflower oil supplements can be stored safely in the refrigerator or a cool, dry room. Bottled oil should be kept refrigerated once opened. Avoid direct sun exposure (such a keeping the pills on a window sill) as this can oxidize the oil and lead to rancidity.

Never use a supplement past its expiration date. If stored in the refrigerator, ahiflower oil has a shelf life of around two years.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Burns-Whitmore B, Froyen E, Heskey C, Parker T, San Pablo G. Alpha-linolenic and linoleic fatty acids in the vegan diet: do they require dietary reference intake/adequate intake special consideration? Nutrients. 2019 Oct;11(10):2365. doi:10.3390/nu11102365

  2. Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 30;11:CD003177. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub4

  3. Lefort N, LeBlanc R, Giroux MA, Surette ME. Consumption of Buglossoides arvensis seed oil is safe and increases tissue long-chain n-3 fatty acid content more than flaxseed oil - results of a phase I randomized clinical trial. J Nutr Sci. 2016 Jan 8;5:e2. doi:10.1017/jns.2015.34

  4. Lefort N, LeBlanc R, Surette ME. Dietary Buglossoides arvensis oil increases circulating n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a dose-dependent manner and enhances lipopolysaccharide-stimulated whole interleukin-10-A randomized placebo-controlled trial. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 10;9(3)E261. doi:10.3390/nu9030261