I've noticed that a lot of people keep saying that we're poor converters of ALA to EPA and DHA, so we should get our omega 3s from meat and fish. The latter is true, but grass fed beef contains ALA, not EPA and DHA. ALA is the same fat in vegetable oils, which I do not think are part of our natural diet. I know that cultures who have lived on a high meat diet eat either pork fat, (which is heavy in arachidonic acid and monounsaturated fatty acids and maybe some linoleic acid, idk), fish (EPA and DHA), and dairy (basically purely saturated). Also, nuts are widely associated with improved health markers (devoid of omega 3, besides walnuts, but which have plenty of omega 6 to counteract any ALA).
I don't know of any cultures that live on a great deal of grass fed beef, which is probably the greatest source of ALA per calorie in hte human diet besides canola and flaxseed oil, which both seem extremely unnatural to me.
Is ALA an underrated NAD?
asked byforeveryoung (14952)
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on June 26, 2012
at 12:01 PM
I think that dietary ALA intake is more necessary than commonly thought. It is argued that the only function of ALA in the body is to produce DHA and EPA - thus it is not required if you have enough fish in your diet. Thereby, the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is - in the case of a western diet - very inefficient, suggesting that increasing dietary ALA intake is not really a substantial intervention.
But I've read three studies already suggesting that ALA is essential in itself, so not only used to produce DHA and EPA.
In a study over 50.000 woman they found that a high ALA intake prevents depressions. High DHA and EPA intake did not prevent depressions
A doctor experimenting (in 1980 already) with supplementing ALA (4 tablespoons lineseed oil / day) for curing all body inflammatory described about 20 cases which solved patients almost all complaints over weeks. Ranging from hair loss to buritus. When switched to an omega 6 oil (like corn oil) the complaints came back. 4 tablespoons is about 66 ml and contains 55% ALA. With a mass of 920 mg per ml this is 33 g. Even with a poor conversion the body can make about 3 g of DHA and EPA of it. (so, this is not really an argument for my case, but I didn't want to withhold the information and calculation ;)) http://www.sciencedirect.com.proxy-ub.rug.nl/science/article/pii/0306987782900883
Students with anexiety disorder where given 112 mg of ALA and 336 mg linoleic acid daily fixed for about 90% the disorder. Students improved massively. Considering the poor conversion from ala to epa / dha, at maximum 10 mg of epa and dha would be produced. That is nowhere near a therapeutic dose. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16491653
ABSTRACT Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid found mainly in plant sources, including flaxseed oil, canola oil, and walnuts. Although substantial evidence indicates that consumption of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from seafood reduces the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), the effect of ALA intake on CHD risk is less well-established. ALA may reduce cardiovascular risk through a variety of biologic mechanisms, including platelet function, inflammation, endothelial cell function, arterial compliance, and arrhythmia. Although clinical benefits have not been seen consistently in all studies, most prospective observational studies suggest that ALA intake reduces the incidence of CHD, and two randomized trials have demonstrated that a dietary pattern that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or legumes, and ALA-rich foods substantially reduces the recurrence of CHD events. Additional observational and clinical studies will help establish the effects of ALA on CHD risk and determine whether such effects vary based on gender, duration of intake, background dietary intake of seafood, or other factors. Presently, the weight of the evidence favors recommendations for modest dietary consumption of ALA (2 to 3 g per day) for the primary and secondary prevention of CHD. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15945135
This makes me come to a temporary conclusion that ALA itself plays an important role in the body.
on August 27, 2012
at 09:13 PM
Fat, for 99% of Americans is completely and utterly unnecessary. PUFA, MUFA, ALA, EPA, EFA's etc. All NON SENSE. The ONLY fats we 'need' are saturated fats from animals and absolutely nothing else. 99% of Americans do not even need that, as their body is a storage house for more than the entire worlds whale population of fat and if provided water, trace minerals and maybe some protein could literally live for years without any other food. Taking supplemental fats on top of the ridiculous amount of fat we eat and store on our bodies is beyond preposterous. Most certainly these fats are neolithic agents of disease.
on June 10, 2012
at 01:22 AM
Grass fed ruminant fat does, in fact, contain EPA and DHA in addition to ALA, but none of them are in substantial amounts.
on June 10, 2012
at 01:35 AM
You might want to change the title of the thread to alpha linoLENic acid, which is the short chain n-3.
I don't think there is any evidence to suggest it is a NAD. In fact, there is some decent research, including RCTs, suggesting ALA is good for you and I've never seen any suggesting it is bad. For the record, it is probably a simplification to say we should just take in EPA and DHA because we don't convert ALA very efficiently. Converting to EPA/DHA is likely not the only way ALA functions in the body.
on June 09, 2012
at 11:52 PM
I think alpha linolenic acid could be a neolithic agent of disease in certain contexts, but I generally wouldn't classify it as such.
I think linoleic acid is an NAD because in the SAD (okay these -AD acronyms are getting silly) we get way too much of it and it causes problems. I wouldn't say we get way too much ALA and ALA also offers us the benefit of competing with linoleic acid for placement in cell membranes.
There is of course the issue of ALA being a more unstable fatty acid (a PUFA) prone to oxidation which also serves no essential purpose in the body (though it is converted into compounds that do). So I think ALA might be considered an NAD in a low linoleic acid diet, but I'm not really sure what the rubric is from NAD's.
Also, beef is far from the greatest source of ALA. Beef fat contains very little ALA. Something like 1% of its calories. Soybean oil for example contains 8% of its calories as ALA and is a greater contributer to calories in the US than beef. And as Jay stated in the comments, lard from factory farmed pigs contains wayy more linoleic acid than arachidonic acid.
on June 09, 2012
at 09:46 PM
IIRC, white men drove buffulo to extinction, not Native Americans. I think southwest tribes were more agricultural.