Linoleic (LA) 18:2 n6

Optimal Result: 18.8 - 28.3 wt %.

Linoleic acid (LA) is the only essential omega-6 fatty acid and must be obtained from the diet.

From LA, other omega-6s can be created using elongase and desaturase enzymes. LA contains 18 carbons, with 2 double bonds, the first of which is at the 6th carbon position (18:2n6).

LA is found in nuts and vegetable oils (corn, soybean, canola, sunflower, etc.) as well as most meats. When the double bonds of LA are arranged differently, the term conjugated LA (CLA) is used. Although technically CLA can be termed a trans-fat, a natural type of CLA can be obtained in the dietary intake of meat and milk from ruminant animals. There are many isomers of CLA – some beneficial and others are not as well defined. There is some controversy regarding how much LA is needed from the diet for adequacy. Although LA is needed to synthesize downstream fatty acids, it may lead to increased inflammatory fatty acid production.

Several studies show that LA lowers blood cholesterol levels and improves all-cause mortality However, their current role in atherosclerosis and cardiometabolic disease are being revisited. There is difficulty in differentiating the biological effects of LA from arachidonic acid in health and disease. In fact, it has been shown that LA is the most abundant fatty acid found in LDL and is one of the first fatty acids to oxidize.

Studies are showing that LA promotes oxidative stress, oxidized LDL, and may be a major dietary cause of cardiovascular disease, especially when consumed via industrial vegetable oils.


- Hansen AE, Haggard ME, Boelsche AN, Adam DJD, Wiese HF. Essential Fatty Acids in Infant Nutrition: III. Clinical Manifestations of Linoleic Acid Deficiency. The Journal of Nutrition. 1958;66(4):565-576.

- Skolnik P, Eaglstein WH, Ziboh VA. Human essential fatty acid deficiency: treatment by topical application of linoleic acid. Archives of dermatology. 1977;113(7):939-941.

- 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.

- Ueda Y, Kawakami Y, Kunii D, et al. Elevated concentrations of linoleic acid in erythrocyte membrane phospholipids in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Nutrition research. 2008;28(4):239-244.

- Garcia-Hernandez A, Leal-Orta E, Ramirez-Ricardo J, Cortes-Reynosa P, Thompson-Bonilla R, Salazar EP. Linoleic acid induces secretion of extracellular vesicles from MDAMB-231 breast cancer cells that mediate cellular processes involved with angiogenesis in HUVECs. Prostaglandins & Other Lipid Mediators. 2020:106519.

- Islam MA, Amin MN, Siddiqui SA, Hossain MP, Sultana F, Kabir MR. Trans fatty acids and lipid profile: A serious risk factor to cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews. 2019;13(2):1643-1647.

- Taha AY. Linoleic acid–good or bad for the brain? npj Science of Food. 2020;4(1):1.

- Bokor S, Dumont J, Spinneker A, et al. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the FADS gene cluster are associated with delta-5 and delta-6 desaturase activities estimated by serum fatty acid ratios. J Lipid Res. 2010;51(8):2325-2333.

- Silva JR, Burger B, Kuehl CMC, Candreva T, dos Anjos MBP, Rodrigues HG. Wound Healing and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: From Inflammation to Repair. Mediators of Inflammation. 2018;2018:2503950.

- Patterson E, Wall R, Fitzgerald GF, Ross RP, Stanton C. Health implications of high dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated Fatty acids. Journal of nutrition and metabolism. 2012;2012:539426.

- Whelan J, Fritsche K. Linoleic Acid. Advances in Nutrition. 2013;4(3):311-312.

- Subbaiah PV, Sircar D, Aizezi B, Mintzer E. Differential effects of conjugated linoleic acid isomers on the biophysical and biochemical properties of model membranes. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2010;1798(3):506-514.

- Jandacek RJ. Linoleic acid: a nutritional quandary. Paper presented at: Healthcare2017.

- Salas-Salvado J, Marquez-Sandoval F, Bullo M. Conjugated Linoleic Acid Intake In Humans: A Systematic Review Focusing on Its Effect on Body Composition, Glucose, and Lipid Metabolism. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2006;46(6):479-488.

- Li J, Guasch-Ferre M, Li Y, Hu FB. Dietary intake and biomarkers of linoleic acid and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2020.

- Smedman A, Vessby B. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation in humans--metabolic effects. Lipids. 2001;36(8):773-781.

What does it mean if your Linoleic (LA) 18:2 n6 result is too low?

Linoleic acid deficiency is rare, especially give current dietary trends which include excess vegetable oils. However, lack or decreased intake of foods containing LA can contribute to lower levels. Additionally, a SNP in delta-6-desaturase may potentially alter the enzyme function and promote downstream metabolism. Essential linoleic acid deficiencies have been mainly associated with skin conditions and impaired growth and development. Low levels of LA may contribute to impaired wound healing since it has been found to modulate a cellular response in wound healing by increasing the migration and functions of inflammatory and endothelial cells, and by inducing angiogenesis at the wound site.

What does it mean if your Linoleic (LA) 18:2 n6 result is too high?

Elevations are seen with high dietary fat intake (especially vegetable oils), or with supplementation of CLA. The delta-6-desaturase enzyme converts LA to downstream fatty acids. Lack of vitamin and mineral cofactors, or a SNP in the enzyme may slow its ability to covert and elevate LA levels. Additionally, there is competition with the omega-3 fatty acids for use of this enzyme which may contribute to elevated levels depending on availability. High levels of LA are associated with obesity, inflammatory conditions such as IBD, various cancers, cardiovascular disease, altered cognition, and brain development. 

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