Is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) necessary by itself?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM

I have been on the paleo diet for 6 weeks now. I have taken flax seed oil for few years in order to get some omega-3's into my diet. Now I have added fish oil to my diet and I am getting around 2,5 grams of omega 3 from fish oils per day. The question is about the flax seed oil, since it contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which the fish oils do not is taking flax seed oil adding some benefits to my diet or should I skip it?

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on February 14, 2010
at 04:42 PM

The short answer is: no. You don't have a specific need for plant-based omega 3, fish oil is better. The longer answer is that if you're getting enough o3 from fish oil, you'd be better to minimise the ALA. It will lack many of the benefits of EPA/DHA, but it will still have the downsides of PUFA, of being especially easily oxidised. Humans are so bad at converting ALA into the proper form that it's very much not worth it, even once flax has been passed through a chicken into omega-3 eggs, not all of the ALA is converted and you'll be left with a significant amount of the less useful stuff.



on June 26, 2012
at 12:05 PM

I've posted a comprehensive answer to this question in


In essence: yes, I do think there is a need for ALA intake on itself, even in abundance DHA and EPA intake.

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