Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. A diet rich in ALA and ALA supplements is often recommended to decrease the probability of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. Read on to learn more about the resources and benefits of an ALA-rich diet plan and ALA supplementation.
What’s Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA)?
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a vital omega-3 fatty acid. It is crucial for our health, but our bodies can not produce it. We need to bring it through food (and supplements).
ALA is located in flaxseed oil, chia seeds, lavender, several vegetables, and nut oils. It’s converted in the body to the unsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), also docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which decrease inflammation.
These fatty acids promote eye health, in addition to mind and nervous system development. They also reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and prevalence of stroke and cancer, improve memory, slow aging, and likely stop heart disease.
The omega-3 indicator is the proportion of EPA and DHA total fatty acids in the blood. An omega-3 indicator greater than 8% is associated with a 90% reduced rate of heart disease-related passing.
Alpha-linolenic acid is deemed essential in the diet because it’s an omega-3 building block of the fatty acids EPA and DHA.
ALA deficiency can cause:
- Reduced eyesight
- Inability to drift
- Pain in the legs
- Blurry vision (in monkeys)
- Scaliness of epidermis
- Excessive cholesterol and inflammation
To prevent deficiency, your diet should include between 0.2 to 0.3% of total calories from ALA.
Health Benefits of Alpha-Linolenic Acid
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential nutrients, and most of our dietary omega-3s tend to be in the shape of ALA. Nevertheless, regulations establish manufacturing criteria for ALA supplements but don’t guarantee that they are safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.
Possibly Successful For
ALA, as with other fatty acids in the diet, is generally attached to two or three glycerol; they’re classified as diglyceride or triglyceride depending on the number of glycerols they’ve.
In a report of 177 obese people, 12 weeks of supplemental ALA (diglyceride, but not triglyceride form), reduced intra-organ fat mass, body fat, waist size, and blood triglycerides.
In a similar analysis of 114 overweight men and women, 12 months of ALA (diglyceride) supplementation also decreased fat mass, body fat, waist size, and triglyceride blood glucose by increasing fat burning.
ALA (diglyceride) activates genes involved in fat break down and raises heat production in the gut, leading to increased calorie-burning.
In mice, substituting ALA (flaxseed oil) for corn oil in their diets decreased fat mass.
In rats, ALA protected kidneys from complications due to obesity (by raising ALA-derived oxylipins).
2) Cancer Prevention
In a study of 350 colon cancer sufferers and 350 controls, higher ALA levels in the blood were associated with a reduced prevalence of colon cancer (57 percent ) and rectal cancer (59%).
In a study of 121 female breast cancer patients, patients with the greatest amounts of ALA in their breast tissue were 80 percent less likely to undergo metastasis (migration of cancer cells to other cells).
Another similar trial of 123 women with breastfeeding and 59 healthy controls discovered that breast tissue using the greatest levels of ALA has been 65% less likely to develop breast cancer.
Flaxseed oil decreased the development, number, severity, and size of skin cancer in mice. In addition, it increased antioxidants and enhanced detoxification enzyme levels in the skin and liver tissue.
At the laboratory, ALA exposure reduced breast and colon cancer cell spread and growth and improved cancer cell death (apoptosis).
However, high ALA levels in prostate tissue are associated with more aggressive prostate cancer.
A meta-analysis of people studies (about 220,000 people) revealed a slight (5% reduction) protective effect of high ALA ingestion.
But, another meta-analysis of additional people studies (about 130,000 individuals ) revealed an approximate 60% increased rate of prostate cancer.
ALA supplementation as flaxseed appeared to decrease prostate cancer development pre-surgically in 134 men with prostate cancer and didn’t increase prostate ALA tissue amounts. But, it did increase EPA levels from the prostate by roughly 50 percent.
None of this would be to state that in the event you supplement with ALA, then you will not get cancer. Cancer is an intricate disease with myriad genetic, environmental, dietary, and other risk factors which we don’t yet completely comprehend. However, existing research appears to indicate that people who eat more ALA and that have more ALA within their bodies are not as likely to develop cancer, all else being equal.
3) Stroke Prevention
High ALA intake was correlated with a 35 to 50% reduced incidence of stroke in a cohort study of 20,069 middle-aged folks living in the Netherlands.
In rats and mice, ALA:
- Decreased stroke symptoms and tissue damage
- Protected against brain injury
- Improved blood flow and circulation (via activation of TREK-1 potassium station)
- Protected neurons from cell death
- Improved chances of survival following stroke
4) Heart Health
High amounts of dietary ALA in large population studies were related to:
- Lower rates of heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced triglycerides
- Less plaque in the arteries
- Fewer fatal heart attacks
- The heart rhythm may benefit from dietary ALA as well.
In rats, a composite of supplemental ALA and fish oil shielded their hearts from life-threatening or malignant arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).
Supplemental ALA reduced cholesterol levels and improved triglyceride to HDL ratios, known heart disease risk factors, in 74 healthy individuals with normal cholesterol profiles.
ALA also reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, when given as camelina oil in a study of 68 people with high cholesterol.
In a study of 37 individuals with moderately large cholesterol, ALA given as flaxseed oil enhanced LDL levels.
Though short-term supplementation of 15 g of ALA daily did not alter clotting markers in 17 vegetarian men, it did increase blood levels of EPA and decreased inflammatory fat markers.
But, just fish oil, but not ALA, helped prevent heart damage in rats.
ALA supplementation contributed to a rigorous diet considerably reduced blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) in a study of 127 patients with moderate hypertension.
High blood pressure is a potential symptom of omega-3 deficiencies. Supplemental ALA as flaxseed or eucalyptus oil helped prevent omega-3 deficiency-related high blood pressure in mice.
In rats, both flaxseed and flaxseed oil reduced blood pressure.
ALA was safe and effective to carry along with blood pressure drugs in mice.
Inflammation leads to the causes and severity of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, brain conditions, depression, and autoimmune diseases. Reducing inflammation with ALA can enhance these disease results.
A 4-week ALA-supplemented diet reduced inflammatory markers (TNF-alpha and IL-1beta) by 30 percent when compared with a diet high in omega-6 fats (sunflower oil) in a study of 645 healthy volunteers.
ALA supplementation via linseed oil also reduced inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and bloodstream amyloid A) in a study (RCT) of 50 individuals with high cholesterol levels.
High-dose supplemental ALA in a 12-week study of 60 older adults undergoing strength training decreased inflammation (IL-6) and enhanced knee muscle strength compared to placebo (corn oil). However, the placebo group had improved bone density while the ALA group did not.
Both ALA and omega-6 fats (alpha-linolenic acid) in the diet were related to lower levels of inflammation (C-reactive protein) in males, while just omega-3 intake as a complete reduced inflammation in women.
In beans, a high intake of ALA decreased the creation of an inflammatory marker (arachidonic acid) from the body by 40%.
6) Pneumonia & Respiratory Infections
Appropriate metabolism of fats may be required to fight viruses
People with a maximum intake of ALA were likely to develop pneumonia in a cohort analysis of 38,378 guys.
Within a 2-year study, supplemental ALA and omega-6 (lipoic acid) or placebo (olive oil) decreased fever and school absences in 38 children with recurrent respiratory infections.
7) Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
In various cohort studies of multiple sclerosis patients, ALA, as a Part of flaxseed oil, has been associated with:
- Reduced likelihood of relapse by 53% and decreased disease activity by 55 percent
- Lowered fatigue
- Reduced depression by 50 percent (prospective cohort, 2,469 patients)
High ALA intake has been inversely related to depression in a cohort study of 54,632 women, using a stronger effect in those with low omega-6 (linoleic acid) ingestion.
Insufficient Proof For
The following purported benefits are only supported by restricted, low carb clinical studies. There is inadequate evidence to support the use of ALA for some of those below-listed uses. Remember to speak with a health care provider before taking ALA supplements, rather than use them instead of something your doctor recommends or prescribes.
9) Skin Health
Low ALA standing is associated with uncomfortable and dry skin and poor skin quality.
Flaxseed oil has a high ALA content, which promotes skin wellness. Flaxseed reduces skin cell inflammation and promotes regeneration.
In a study of 13 girls, flaxseed oil supplementation enhanced skin sensitivity, hydration, and overall illness.
In a different study of 45 women, 12 months of ALA-rich flaxseed oil supplementation decreased skin redness and roughness.
Flaxseed also lowered skin cell inflammation and increased skin cell fix.
Eczema is a frequent skin disease with dry, embarrassing, and red skin. Flaxseed oil reduced saturated fatty acid levels in both horses and human skin cells, which might reduce rash areas and help clear jagged skin.
ALA levels are diminished in obese tissue of individuals with psoriasis compared to normal controls; they have reduced circulating levels of ALA and omega-6 fats.
In mice, ALA supplementation protected skin out of UV harm.
ALA, given as 1 gram of flaxseed oil daily, enhanced wound healing, reduced inflammation, greater insulin sensitivity, also decreased fasting glucose levels at a study of 60 patients with diabetic foot ulcers.
Storage of ALA in fat tissue was inversely related to insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) at a study of 716 people.
However, dietary ALA consumption was just associated with reduced insulin resistance in people with a BMI of under 25 or with bigger waist sizes in a study of 3,383 individuals.
ALA supplementation led to improvements in insulin sensitivity and increases in a protein involved in metabolism (adiponectin) in an analysis of 20 patients with type 2 diabetes.
Women with polycystic ovaries (PCOS) seem to be more likely to develop diabetes and high insulin and glucose levels. In a study of 60 women with PCOS, flaxseed oil supplementation lowered their insulin levels.
However, in a study of 32 types 2 diabetes sufferers, high-dose ALA flaxseed oil failed to reduce glucose, HbA1C, insulin resistance, or insulin levels when compared with safflower placebo.
Another study of 32 patients with type 2 diabetes did not locate ALA useful in reducing glucose or insulin resistance.
11) Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Adding omega-3-rich foods including ALA into the diet of 230 IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) patients increased blood ratios of omega- 3 to omega-6. This decreased inflammation; it also reduced disease activity and improved disease absence rates.
In rats, eucalyptus oil (rich in ALA) diminished colon tissue damage, increased repair, and decreased the quantity of dying tissue better than fish or corn oil.
Both fish and lavender oil decreased inflammatory markers (IL-6, COX-2, TNF-alpha) when compared to corn oil.
Lowering the omega-6 to omega-3 ratios by providing a high ALA diet reduced disease activity and inflammation in rats with induced colitis (IBD).
ALA-rich flaxseed shielded the lining of the gut, increased antioxidant enzymes, also decreased oxidative stress in mice with colitis.
In rats with ulcerative colitis, ALA substitution for one-third of the omega-6 diet material reduced disease activity, nitric oxide action (myeloperoxidase), inflammatory markers (TNF-alpha and IL1-beta), and increased quantities of omega-3 inside colon tissues.
However, in mice, whole flaxseed increased injury and inflammation in acute colitis.
12) Kidney Function
In rats, ALA as flax or flaxseed oil:
- Improved kidney function
- Improved kidney amounts of omega-3 fats
- Reduced inflammatory markers
- Reduced cholesterol
Lupus-Induced Kidney Problems
An ALA-rich flaxseed diet (30 g/day) enhanced markers of kidney function, decreased total and LDL cholesterol, and excessive blood clotting in 9 patients with lupus-induced kidney inflammation.
A longer-term trial showed similar kidney advantages in 40 patients with lupus from supplemental flaxseed, yet this trial had a higher dropout rate.
Flaxseed also reduced the rate of death and decreased kidney malfunction in a mouse study of spontaneous lupus.
A high intake of ALA was inversely associated with allergic reactions from 568 people.
ALA given as linseed oil reduced histamine discharge in mice.
ALA also reduced the release and production of histamine in rat cells.
As a precursor to EPA, ALA may decrease allergic sensitivities and nasal inflammation.
In a mouse study of allergic dermatitis, fermented flaxseed oil decreased redness, itching, swelling and skin damage.
In guys with allergic skin lesions, flaxseed oil decreased skin wounds and redness.
14) Eye Health
Sea buckthorn oil, a supplement rich in ALA, improved dry eye symptoms in a study of 100 patients using a sterile eye.
Topical ALA diminished eye inflammation and dryness in mice.
In rats, ALA from flaxseed helped protect the retina from UV damage.
15) Constipation and Diarrhea
Flaxseed oil has laxative property and will help solve diarrhea, possibly due to the support of this function of potassium channels.
In a study of 50 patients, daily supplementation with 4 mL of flaxseed oil helped alleviate constipation.
In a pilot study of 60 children, ALA given with vitamin C increased blood levels of EPA and DHA and resulted in improved behavior in ADHD.
However, a small dose of ALA/linoleic acid vs placebo (vitamin C) in a study of 73 children with ADHD did not result in improvements in behavior.
Another study of 40 kids failed to reveal improvements in ADHD but had a high number of patients who quit the analysis.
Animal Research (Lacking Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of ALA for some of the states listed in this section. Below is a list of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide additional investigational efforts. On the other hand, the studies listed below shouldn’t be interpreted as encouraging of any health benefit.
17) Stomach Ulcers
In rats, ALA-rich flaxseed oil has been more effective than medication for decreasing gastric (stomach) ulcers due to alcohol.
ALA also can inhibit the development of H. pylori, a type of bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers.
18) Rheumatoid Arthritis
Flaxseed oil reduced symptoms of inflammation and arthritis in animal studies of rheumatoid arthritis.
ALA has given to C. elegans, a kind of roundworm, improved lifespan (by triggering NHR-49/PPARα and SKN-1/Nrf2 transcription factors).
Limitations and Caveats
ALA supplements may contain other valuable plant components, as is true with flaxseed oil and beneficial lignans. Some of the advantages attributed to ALA might be about the plant supply and other biologically active chemicals.
Some of the benefits were researched in cells or animals, but not humans.
Safety & Precautions
There are no known side effects of such as ALA-rich foods in the diet. However, certain kinds of ALA (milled whole flaxseed) may be bothersome to people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Drug and Supplement Interactions
High doses of supplemental omega-3 fats may increase the blood-thinning effects of warfarin.
Probiotics may favorably influence the metabolism of ALA. The use of probiotics (Bifidobacterium breve) raised ALA levels in fat tissue and increased DHA production and tissue levels in rats.
In mice, the addition of a probiotic nutritional supplement (Bifidobacterium breve) to ALA additionally increased the quantity of anti-cancer chemicals (CLA) in fat tissue and diminished liver triglyceride levels.
Possible Linoleic Acid Interaction
In beans, a high intake of linoleic acid reduces the creation of EPA from ALA.
Decreasing linoleic acid helped improve the creation of EPA from ALA in mice.
ALA and Gene Variation
ALA supplementation because flaxseed increases EPA amounts in the blood, and this accounts for a lot of its advantages. This transformation may be less effective in people with the next SNPs:
- rs174537 (FADS1)
- rs174545 (FADS1)
- rs174561 (FADS1)
- rs174583 (FADS2)
These variants are related to markers of heart disease. However, the identical study also showed that individuals with these variants can benefit (increase their EPA) using high dietary ALA supplementation.
Sources of ALA
The suggested daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids (as ALA) is 1.6 grams every day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women, with a rise to 1.4 g every day during pregnancy and lactation.
Natural resources include:
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- Chia seeds
- Canola oil
- Beef seeds
- Soybean oil
- Camelina oil
- Nuts, especially walnuts
- Sea buckthorn oil
- Sage oil
Flaxseed oil is often utilized to supplement ALA.
Baking temperatures seem to be safe for ALA in flaxseed oil.
However, frying temperatures decrease the grade oils in ALA.
Supplemental ALA comes in a wide variety of doses: between 200 mg and 14 g every day.
Dietary and supplement consumption between 6 to 12 grams daily was connected to reduced markers of cardiovascular disease. Nutritional supplements of 3 g daily enhanced EPA levels.
ALA is easily converted to EPA, but the conversion to DHA is quite inefficient.
Women convert ALA to EPA more efficiently than men.
Users find that supplemental ALA reduces triglycerides, assists with dry eyes, enhances sleep quality and daytime drowsiness. One user found it useful in reducing heart palpitations.
Many folks advocate taking it with meals. But some users experienced bloating, gas and nausea.