Notice: Undefined variable: link_canonical in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 9

Notice: Undefined variable: b_robots_no_follow in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 18

Notice: Undefined variable: item in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 25

Notice: Undefined variable: document_date in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 35

Notice: Undefined variable: google_other_slots in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 339

Notice: Undefined variable: google_topic in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 366

Notice: Undefined variable: item in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 374

Notice: Undefined variable: bannercode in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 422

Notice: Undefined variable: bannercode in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 444
 

Notice: Undefined variable: bannercode in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 747

Notice: Undefined variable: bannercode in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/bot.inc on line 5

Notice: Undefined variable: bannercode in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 643
College Feed
qi



Notice: Undefined variable: bannercode in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 761

Notice: Undefined variable: b_no_show_email_to_friend in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 772
E-mail to a Friend
Notice: Undefined variable: b_no_show_print_friendly in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 772
|
Notice: Undefined variable: b_no_show_print_friendly in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 773
Printer Friendly Version
Notice: Undefined variable: b_no_show_pdf_version in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 773
|
Notice: Undefined variable: b_no_show_pdf_version in /www/ems/mpacms/templates/include/at/top.inc on line 774
PDF Version

Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-J-K | L | M | N-O | P-Q | R | S | T | U | V | W-X-Y-Z

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

What is ALA? Why do we need it?

Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid that comes from plants. It is considered an essential nutrient, and is used as a source of energy by the body.

ALA is considered a "parent" fatty acid; it is converted by the body into omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oils. Omega-3 fatty acids perform a number of regulatory functions in the body, including heart rate; blood pressure; immune response; and breakdown of fats. Essential fatty acids such as ALA are also used to make brain and nervous tissue.

Small studies have shown that ALA may prevent coronary heart disease and stop artherosclerosis. Other researchers have begun studying ALA's anti-inflammatory and immunologic effects for conditions such as migraine headaches and depression. Currently, ALA is used to reduce cholesterol levels, treat allergic and inflammatory conditions, and fight autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus.

How much ALA should I take?

There is no recommended daily allowance of ALA. However, a healthy diet should include less saturated fats and more essential fatty acids. Before taking ALA supplements, discuss the situation with your health care provider.

What are some good sources of ALA?

The following foods and oils are good sources of ALA:

Foods: Flax seeds, margarine (if based on canola or soybean oil), mackerel, pumpkins, salmon, walnuts

Oils: Canola oil, flaxseed oil, linseed oil, soybean oil

What can happen if I don't get enough ALA?

As previously stated, there is no recommended daily allowance of ALA. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your health care provider about ALA and ALA supplements.

What can happen if I take too much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?

ALA supplements are usually high in calories; excess amounts may lead to unwanted weight gain. Flaxseed oil (a source of ALA) may increase the body's need for vitamin E. Make sure to talk with your health care provider for more information.

References

  • Billeaud C, Bougle D, Sarda P, et al.. Effects of preterm infant formula supplementation with alpha-linolenic acid with a linoleate/alpha-linoleate ration of 6. Eur J Clin Nutr August 1997;51:520—527.
  • DeDeckere EA, Korver O, Verschuren PM, Katan MB. Health aspects of fish and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from plant and marine origin. Eur J Clin Nutr 1998;52:749—753.
  • de Lorgeril M, Renaud S, Mamelle N, et al. Mediterranean alpha-linolenic acid-rich diet in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Lancet 1994;343:1454—1459.
  • Edwards R, Peet M, Shay J, Horrobin D. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients. J Affect Disord 1998;48:149—155.
  • Prasad K. Dietary flaxseed in prevention of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis 1997;132(1):69—76.

AT News Update
e-mail newsletter Subscribe Today

AT Deals & Events
e-mail newsletter Subscribe Today