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Wheat Germ Oil: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

The demand for vegetable oil has risen rapidly due to the awareness of vegetable oil as food and nutraceuticals (health-enhancing food). Cereals are an essential mode of a balanced nutrition. Some cereals like wheat (Triticum aestivum), commonly known as ghehu, have gained much popularity due to their ability to be grounded into flour. Wheat germ is a by-product derived from wheat milling process. Wheat germ is used in the cosmetic, food and medical industry. Egypt is one of the largest producers of wheat germ. Wheat germ oil has a slightly nutty, pleasantly grainy, sweet flavour with several potential uses.1 Let us look at some health benefits of wheat germ oil. 

wheat germ oil benefits

Did you know?

Nutritional Value of Wheat Germ Oil: 

Wheat germ oil may contain several bioactive compounds like phytosterols, policosanol, lipids, sterols, triterpenols and many more.2 Additionally, wheat germ oil may have the following nutrients: 

Nutritional Component Value 
Energy  884 kcal 
Fats 100 g 
Fatty acids (unsaturated) 18.8 g 
Fatty acids (monosaturated) 15.1 g 
Fatty acids (polyunsaturated) 61.7 g 
Choline 20 mg 
Vitamin E  149 mg 
Vitamin K  24.7 µg 
Total carotenoids 12.23 g 
Lutein 2.95 g 
β- carotene 2.42 g 
Other carotenoids 6.89 g 
Total steryl ferulate 48.8 g 

Table 1: Nutritional value of wheat germ oil3,4 

Vitamins present in wheat germ oil: 

  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone)3 
  • Vitamin A (retinol) 
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) 
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)5 

Did you know wheat germ oil contains many vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, Selenium, and Zinc? Vitamin E along with Selenium might aid in improving sperm motility. Additionally, zinc plays an important role in maintaining overall sperm health.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Properties of Wheat Germ Oil: 

Several studies show that wheat germ oil may possess the following properties: 

  • It may be an antioxidant.1 
  • It may have the ability to inhibit the growth of the bacteria. 1 
  • It may have anti-inflammatory properties (may reduce swelling).2 
  • It may have properties to lower cholesterol levels.5 
  • It may possess properties to increase the blood flow. 5 
  • It may protect against breast cancer.6 
  • It may have properties to protect the heart.7 
  • It may possess wound-healing properties.8 

Did you know wheat germ oil is a great source of many nutrients needed for smooth functioning of the body? Vitamin E might help in improving symptoms of mild cognitive impairment in older patients. The presence of vitamin E can aid in improving cognitive function in older patients and patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses of Wheat Germ Oil for Overall Health: 

1. Potential use of wheat germ oil for bacterial infections 

Wheat germ oil may possess antibacterial properties. It may inhibit the growth of bacteria. Wheat germ oil may be more sensitive to gram-positive bacteria as compared to gram-negative bacteria (categories based on bacteria that take up staining under the microscope).1 However, further studies are yet to be done to check the effect of wheat germ oil on bacterial infections. If you suspect any symptoms of bacterial infection, you must immediately consult your doctor. 

2. Potential use of wheat germ oil for inflammation 

Intake of wheat germ oil may be used to reduce swelling. A study conducted by Harrabi et al. in 2021 showed that bioactive compounds like octacosanol, β-sitosterol and α-linolenic acid might be responsible for the anti-inflammatory property of wheat germ oil. Wheat germ oil may inhibit cyclo-oxygenase (an enzyme that causes swelling).2 However, more studies are required to confirm if wheat germ oil can be used to reduce inflammation. You must consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms of inflammatory diseases. 

3. Potential use of wheat germ oil for hair 

Consumption of wheat germ oil may increase blood flow due to the presence of vitamin E. Increased blood flow in the scalp may help repair the cells in the hair bulb. Additionally, it may help reduce hair fall.5 However, more studies are needed to check if wheat germ oil is good for hair. You should consult a doctor for proper treatment if you are facing hair related issues. 

4. Potential use of wheat germ oil for skin 

Consumption of wheat germ oil may increase the blood flow in the skin, resulting in better supply of nutrients to the skin. This may be attributed to its high vitamin E content. It may also have an anti-ageing effect on the skin due to the presence of a bioactive compound, ceramide. Vitamin E and ceramides may have a moisturising and soothing effect on the skin. In addition, wheat germ oil may cause skin thickening, which may further help decrease water loss from the skin.5 However, more studies are yet to be done to check whether wheat germ oil may benefit the skin. You must consult your doctor if you see any abnormalities in your skin. 

5. Potential use of wheat germ oil for cancer 

A study conducted by Emam et al. in 2022 on rats showed that wheat germ oil might be beneficial for breast cancer due to the presence of vitamin E and its ability to reduce oxidative stress.4 Oxidative stress is caused by harmful free radicals (molecular particles that harm the body). In addition, wheat germ oil may reduce tumour size.6 However, this study was conducted on animals. Therefore, further studies are required to check the effect of wheat germ oil on cancer in the human body. Cancer is a dangerous disease; hence you must consult your doctor if you have been diagnosed with cancer instead of self-medicating. 

6. Potential use of wheat germ oil for wound healing 

Wheat germ oil may help to heal wounds. A study conducted by G.C. Türkoglu et al. in 2021 showed that wheat germ oil might have bioactive compounds that may have properties to work on the skin cells and enhance the wound healing process. Wheat germ oil may heal burns and wounds due to its high cellular activity and high fluid handling capacity.7 However, further studies are yet to be done to check if wheat germ oil may be used to heal wounds. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you have a severe wound instead of self-medicating. 

7. Potential use of wheat germ oil for lowering cholesterol levels 

Antioxidants in wheat germ oil like phenolic acids, flavonoids, tocopherols and carotenoids may help reduce cholesterol levels. A study by Chadha et al. in 2015 showed that wheat germ oil might lower the bad cholesterol levels- total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).8 However, further studies are yet to be done to check if wheat germ oil may be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels. Therefore, you must check your cholesterol levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of high cholesterol levels. 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of wheat germ oil in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of wheat germ oil on human health. 

How to Use Wheat Germ Oil? 

Wheat germ oil can be added to various food items in the following way: 

  • Wheat germ oil may be added to smoothies, yoghurt, ice cream and cereals. 
  • Wheat germ oil capsules are available in a fixed dose. 
  • It can be added to pasta or salad as a flavouring agent. 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Likewise, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Wheat Germ Oil: 

Side effects of wheat germ oil may be due to wheat allergy. Its symptoms may include: 

  • It may cause irritation, swelling or itching in the mouth or throat. 
  • It may cause swelling of the skin. 
  • It may cause an itchy rash. 
  • It may cause nasal congestion. 
  • It may lead to headache. 
  • It may cause difficulty in breathing. 
  • It may cause diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.9 

You must immediately consult your doctor if you experience any side effects after consuming wheat germ oil. 

Also Read: Patchouli Oil: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More! 

Precautions to Take with Wheat Germ Oil: 

Wheat germ oil is generally considered safe; however, the following precautions shall still be taken: 

  • You may be at a higher risk of getting a wheat allergy if you have a family history. Hence if someone in your family has had wheat allergy, you must take extra precautions before consuming it. 
  • We should be cautious while giving wheat germ oil to babies since they are prone to a wheat allergy.9 

If you have any pre-existing disorder, you must consult your doctor before consuming wheat germ oil. 

Interaction with Other Drugs: 

There are not enough studies on the interaction of wheat germ oil with other drugs. Further studies on the interaction of wheat germ oil are yet to be done. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you are on any other medication before consuming wheat germ oil.   

Also Read: Evening Primrose Oil Benefits: A Research-Based Guide to Health Improvements

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are wheat germ oil benefits for the skin? 

Vitamin E in wheat germ oil may increase the blood flow in the skin, resulting in a better supply of nutrients to the skin. It may also have an anti-ageing effect on the skin due to the presence of a bioactive compound, ceramides. Vitamin E and ceramides may have a moisturising and soothing effect on the skin. In addition, wheat germ oil may cause the thickening of the skin, which may further help to decrease the loss of water from the skin. 5 

2) What are wheat germ oil benefits for hair? 

Due to the presence of vitamin E, wheat germ oil may increase blood flow. Wheat germ oil may increase the blood flow in the scalp and repair the cells in the hair bulb. Additionally, it may help to reduce hair fall. 5 

3) What are wheat germ oil side effects? 

Consumption of wheat germ oil may cause irritation, swelling or itching in the mouth or throat, swelling of the skin, itchy rash, nasal congestion, headache, difficulty in breathing and may cause diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.9 

4) Wheat germ oil contains which vitamins? 

Wheat germ oil may contain vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K.3,5 

5) Is wheat germ oil helpful in cancer? 

Yes, wheat germ oil may be beneficial for cancer due to its antioxidant activity. Vitamin E may help to relieve the oxidative stress. It may also reduce the size of tumours.6 However, cancer is a dangerous disease. Therefore, you must consult your doctor instead of self-medicating. 

References: 

  1. Mahmoud AA, Mohdaly AA, Elneairy NA. Wheat germ: an overview on nutritional value, antioxidant potential and antibacterial characteristics. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2015 Feb 2;6(02):265. Available from: https://www.scirp.org/html/8-2701482_54019.htm 
  1. Harrabi S, Ferchichi A, Fellah H, Feki M, Hosseinian F. Chemical composition and in vitro anti-inflammatory activity of wheat germ oil depending on the extraction procedure. Journal of Oleo Science. 2021;70(8):1051-8. Available from: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jos/70/8/70_ess20317/_article/-char/ja/ 
  1. Oil, wheat germ [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2022 Oct05]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171014/nutrients 
  1. Kumar GS, Krishna AG. Studies on the nutraceuticals composition of wheat derived oils wheat bran oil and wheat germ oil. Journal of food science and technology. 2015 Feb;52(2):1145-51. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-013-1119-3 
  1. Ghafoor K, Özcan MM, AL‐Juhaımı F, Babıker EE, Sarker ZI, Ahmed IA, Ahmed MA. Nutritional composition, extraction, and utilisation of wheat germ oil: A review. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 2017 Jul;119(7):1600160. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejlt.201600160 
  1. Emam KK, Abdel Fattah ME, El Rayes SM, Hebishy MA, Dessouki AA. Assessment of Wheat Germ Oil Role in the Prevention of Induced Breast Cancer in Rats. ACS omega. 2022 Apr 14;7(16):13942-52. Available from: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsomega.2c00434 
  1. Türkoğlu GC, Sarıışık M, Karavana SY, Köse FA. Production of wheat germ oil containing multilayer hydrogel dressing. Carbohydrate Polymers. 2021 Oct 1;269:118287. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144861721006743 
  1. Chadha R, Ram H, Purohit A. Hypolipidemic effect of wheat germ oil in cholesterol fed Rabbits. Med. Drug Res.. 2015;3:15-20. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rashi_Chadha3/publication/309855948_Hypolipidemic_effect_of_wheat_germ_oil_in_cholesterol_fed_rabbits_Hypolipidemic_effect_of_wheat_germ_oil_in_cholesterol_fed_rabbits/links/5bbd06654585159e8d8f65a8/Hypolipidemic-effect-of-wheat-germ-oil-in-cholesterol-fed-rabbits-Hypolipidemic-effect-of-wheat-germ-oil-in-cholesterol-fed-rabbits.pdf 
  1. Wheat allergy [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2022 [cited 2022Oct5]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wheat-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20378897 

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