The benefits of wheat germ oil

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By Rachel Toon

My introduction to wheat germ oil occurred at an early age.  I remember my father taking a quart metal can out of a brown paper bag and pouring a little trickle of liquid onto the dry dog food in my beloved pets dish.  
“This will make her coat shiny and healthy. It’s wheat germ oil,” he announced with confidence. The wheat germ oil he added to her kibble was one secret to her undeniable energy, good stamina, and  flawless shiny coat. It is an age old remedy for itching, flaking skin on cats, dogs, and horses. Along with improving their coat, some owners use wheat germ oil as a daily supplement to condition their animals for competition and for breeding. Just as it works for veterinary use, it is also a proven supplement for human athletes, increasing endurance and reaction time.
Wheat germ oil is extracted from the germ of the wheat kernel. It is particularly high in octacosanol – a 28 carbon long-chain saturated primary alcohol found in a number of vegetable waxes.  Octacosanol has been studied as an exercise and performance enhancing agent. Very long-chain fatty alcohols obtained from plant waxes and beeswax have been reported to lower plasma cholesterol in humans.  Octacosanol has a variety of pharmacological effects and may help people with Parkinsons Disease.
Wheat germ has the highest content of Vitamin E of any food that has not undergone prior preparation or vitamin fortification.  It is a very valuable oil featuring numerous other oils and compounds within it (Vitamin E oil for one).  It contains lecithin and linoleic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid.  It is used to help with a variety of ailments and skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, dry or cracking skin, stretch marks, aging or dull skin, sunburn, scars, muscle fatigue, high cholesterol, and poor circulation.  
The benefits of wheat germ oil can be achieved both through ingestion and topical application. In dilution with other carrier oils such as apricot seed, jojoba, or sweet almond, wheat germ oil can be a very good massage oil.  While it is too thick and strong smelling to use by itself, if mixed at a ratio of 1 part wheat germ oil to 9 parts carrier oils, it can provide topical application of fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E to your skin along with a subtle wheat aroma.
Wheat germ oil is susceptible to both light and heat and will turn rancid if not stored properly. If kept refrigerated in an opaque, air tight container, it should last several months.  
It is not recommended as a cooking oil since heat destroys much of its nutritional and therapeutic benefits.  Instead, add it to your dressing for cold vegetable or pasta salads.  It can be mixed with juice, smoothies, yogurt, or drizzled over your oatmeal or breakfast cereal.
A daily dose of one to three teaspoons is generally sufficient while some sources recommend up to two tablespoons.  Wheat germ oil can be taken in capsule form if one finds swallowing it disagreeable.  Anyone suffering from celiac disease or wheat sensitivity may want to avoid wheat germ oil and find another suitable oil to provide them with important fatty acids and vitamins.