ALA

Optimal Result: 30 - 100 qg/mL.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential n-3 fatty acid and must be obtained in the diet. Sources include green leafy vegetables, oily fish, flaxseed, soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and chia seeds. ALA has an 18-carbon backbone with 3 double bonds starting at the third carbon molecule (18:3n3). It is an important precursor to make eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), though these can also be obtained in the diet. Most dietary ALA is used to generate energy and only a small portion is converted to EPA and DHA.

References:

- Das UN. Arachidonic acid in health and disease with focus on hypertension and diabetes mellitus: A review. Journal of advanced research. 2018;11:43-55.

- Rajaram S. Health benefits of plant-derived α-linolenic acid. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2014;100(suppl_1):443S-448S.

- Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JHY, et al. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;136(3):e1- e23.

- Anderson BM, Ma DW. Are all n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids created equal? Lipids in health and Disease. 2009;8(1):1-20.

- Stark AH, Crawford MA, Reifen R. Update on alpha-linolenic acid. Nutrition reviews. 2008;66(6):326-332.

- Brenna JT, Salem N, Sinclair AJ, Cunnane SC. α-Linolenic acid supplementation and conversion to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in humans. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2009;80(2):85-91.

- Lee AY, Lee MH, Lee S, Cho EJ. Neuroprotective Effect of Alpha-Linolenic Acid against Aβ-Mediated Inflammatory Responses in C6 Glial Cell. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2018;66(19):4853-4861.

- Bjerve KS, Thoresen L, Mostad IL, Alme K. Alpha-linolenic acid deficiency in man: effect of essential fatty acids on fatty acid composition. Advances in prostaglandin, thromboxane, and leukotriene research. 1987;17b:862-865.

- Kim KB, Nam YA, Kim HS, Hayes AW, Lee BM. α-Linolenic acid: nutraceutical, pharmacological and toxicological evaluation. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association. 2014;70:163-178.

What does it mean if your ALA result is too low?

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential n-3 fatty acid and must be obtained in the diet. Sources include green leafy vegetables, oily fish, flaxseed, soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, and chia seeds.

ALA has an 18-carbon backbone with 3 double bonds starting at the third carbon molecule (18:3n3). It is an important precursor to make eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), though these can also be obtained in the diet. Most dietary ALA is used to generate energy and only a small portion is converted to EPA and DHA.

What does it mean if your ALA result is too high?

Increased dietary intake of ALA-rich foods or supplementation can elevate levels. The delta-6 desaturase enzyme is used to convert ALA into other downstream fatty acids. Lack of vitamin and mineral cofactors or genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the enzyme may slow the enzyme and contribute to elevations. Some studies suggest that the conversion rates of ALA to downstream fatty acids are gender dependent. There may be direct estrogen effects to desaturase and elongase enzymes whereby women of reproductive age show substantially greater conversion rates.

Higher levels of ALA are beneficial and its positive effects have been studied in several clinical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmunity. Although there is limited toxicological data for ALA, no serious adverse effects have been reported. Research is inconclusive regarding increased risk of prostate cancer in association with high dietary ALA intake.

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