3

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Is Alpha Linolenic Acid still necessary in the presence of a high DHA and EPA intake?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 21, 2012 at 4:28 AM

I know that Omega 3s are essential fatty acids and you need to supplement with fish oil. I Googled omega 3s and Wikipedia states that ALA (Alpha linolenic acid) is also an essential fatty acid. I know that ALA is the short chain fatty acid "pre-curser" for epa and dha but also has a very low conversion rate. I also know that all the research of the benefits of Omega 3s focus on DHA and EPA. That all being said if I consume an adequate amount of the long chain omega 3s DHA and EPA would ALA still be essential in the diet for reasons other than converting into DHA and EPA or could I simply ignore walnuts and flax seeds?

Thanks.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 22, 2012
at 02:47 PM

@raney, I've posted one on paleohacks long ago.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 22, 2012
at 02:15 PM

Grass-fed beef does indeed have a better ratio of PUFAs, however the amount of PUFA is still quite low. That's the true "advantage" to beef, low overall PUFAs. Of course, I'm less and less convinced that low PUFAs are something to be extremely desired.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on January 22, 2012
at 07:28 AM

Do you have a citation on the PUFA contents of pastured beef?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 21, 2012
at 04:54 PM

We make DHA, so it's not really essential in that regard. Heck, we make ALA too, from EPA/DHA as I understand it. ALA must not be essential either then. We require all 3 for optimal health. We can make them, but we need to have some omega-3 input (as fatty acids are elongated from the other end).

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:57 PM

I think this is wrong.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on January 21, 2012
at 05:50 AM

you don't NEED to supplement with fish oil

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4 Answers

4
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 21, 2012
at 04:42 PM

I eat pastured egg yolks and meat as my only sources of PUFAs...

Here is an article with regards to PUFAs:

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/PUFA-Special-Report.html

Current reviews and textbooks call the omega-6 linoleic acid and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid "essential fatty acids" (EFA) and cite the EFA requirement as one to four percent of calories. Research suggests, however, that the omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA) and the omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the only fatty acids that are truly essential.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 21, 2012
at 04:54 PM

We make DHA, so it's not really essential in that regard. Heck, we make ALA too, from EPA/DHA as I understand it. ALA must not be essential either then. We require all 3 for optimal health. We can make them, but we need to have some omega-3 input (as fatty acids are elongated from the other end).

2
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:03 PM

People think that ALA = plant source and DHA/EPA = aminal source. That is wrong.

ALA is the type of omega 3 that is predominant in grass fed beef fat. Thus, there is no reason to think that our early ancestors didn't consume plenty of ALA, probably in addition to the longer chain fatty acids too.

One advantage that ALA has over DHA and EPA is that it is relatively less prone to oxidation. In general, the longer chain PUFAs are more prone to oxidation than the short chain "precursors."

But, don't put a lot of stock in any mechanistic argument, including the one I just gave for ALA, because we are all operating with a lack of perfect knowledge. The best approach is to just simulate conditions that are natural - that's the whole point of paleo anyway. All this to say, get your omega 3s from real food (like wild caught salmon, grass fed beef/butter, pastured eggs, and some plant sources too).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 22, 2012
at 02:15 PM

Grass-fed beef does indeed have a better ratio of PUFAs, however the amount of PUFA is still quite low. That's the true "advantage" to beef, low overall PUFAs. Of course, I'm less and less convinced that low PUFAs are something to be extremely desired.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on January 22, 2012
at 07:28 AM

Do you have a citation on the PUFA contents of pastured beef?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 22, 2012
at 02:47 PM

@raney, I've posted one on paleohacks long ago.

0
5b8cf203186c3cb7810f5046e0532be8

(166)

on June 26, 2012
at 12:03 PM

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 21, 2012
at 05:53 AM

You can ignore flax seed and walnuts. No need for ALA.

I have replaced fish oil with 3-4 pastured egg yolks per day.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:57 PM

I think this is wrong.

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