3

votes

n-3 Omega 3 fatty acid: ALA is it important or not at all?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 26, 2011 at 2:47 PM

In my year or so since I started to eat paleo, I first learnt that we need a very good intake of omega 3 acids in our diet, and I later learnt that the really important fatty acids types are DHA and EPA those found mostly in fish, seafood and (something in) pastured meat. Which seems to indicate that our consumption of ALA, the remaining usual Omega 3 fatty acid, is not really important. Now I question myself whether the ALA content of foods is really irrelevant or just not as important as their content of DHA+EPA. In other words if we find say two types of eggs where one of them has extra ALA than the other one is this extra ALA a real plus in nutritional terms (though perhaps not as important as DHA), or is it not and then we should not pay the extra price for those ALA fortified eggs? (Please do not answer me that DHA fortified eggs are better, because I already know that and my question is specific about whether or not does it make sense to increase our ALA consumption) A related study that I found: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19261730

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 03:41 AM

Thank You Mike!

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on April 11, 2012
at 01:06 AM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/107432/is-n-3-fat-in-pastured-beef-ala-or-dha-epa/107485#107485

Medium avatar

(39821)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:51 PM

Ah, you're right; the full text goes into it. I think a better comparison would be ALA vs. EPA/DHA It's sort of like saying beta carotene gives you some of the advantages of retinol. May as well go with the preformed version.

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:47 PM

Right. Took out the antioxidant piece. Everything else stands :-) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17898498

11838116de44ae449df0563f09bd3d73

(655)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:32 PM

he's not talking about lipoic acid

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:24 PM

they study both, "total dietary linolenic acid (α- and γ-linolenic acid) intake".

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:22 PM

Nice about lowering trigs. Conversion to EPA in humans is very low... I am currently VLC (for a few months) and trigs are low.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:21 PM

I believe that study is referring to linoleic acid, not ALA.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:05 PM

I also found this other study to support potential benefits of ALA consumption http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/6/1098.full

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 26, 2011
at 02:55 PM

I see but then the study I show says that ALA does convert into EPA, and also that ALA helps lower trigs

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5 Answers

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:51 PM

It's not that ALA isn't important (it is!), the focus on EPA/DHA is there because they aren't as common as ALA in our diets. ALA is plant-based, and we (should) get plenty of plants in our diet.

2
A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:07 PM

I haven't seen anything that necessarily bad about ALA... It's, good for the liver, and some studies suggest that it increases insulin sensitivity. I think it might get a bad rap around Paleos because of our O3:O6 focus, and it's low conversion rate.

11838116de44ae449df0563f09bd3d73

(655)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:32 PM

he's not talking about lipoic acid

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:47 PM

Right. Took out the antioxidant piece. Everything else stands :-) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17898498

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 26, 2011
at 02:52 PM

I look at extra ALA as excessive PUFA consumption and avoid it. Even though it is Omega 3 I do not count it as good.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on August 26, 2011
at 02:55 PM

I see but then the study I show says that ALA does convert into EPA, and also that ALA helps lower trigs

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:22 PM

Nice about lowering trigs. Conversion to EPA in humans is very low... I am currently VLC (for a few months) and trigs are low.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 11, 2012
at 03:41 AM

Thank You Mike!

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on April 11, 2012
at 01:06 AM

http://paleohacks.com/questions/107432/is-n-3-fat-in-pastured-beef-ala-or-dha-epa/107485#107485

0
9f7cee0f2ec9842afc08ae00ca7edd6a

on January 20, 2013
at 08:06 PM

I think your misunderstanding the reason importance is less placed on ALA. It can be 100% as important as dha and epa, the reason it is less focused on is actually because it is converted into dha and epa once inside your body, so basically when they say you need dha and epa it applies to ala as well. Your body can use ala for both but not 100% of ala is used by the body so when consuming ala make sure to get extra large amounts. That being said don't expect heart health from it as that has been only connected with eating fish and not a strong connection if you ask me. But you do need it for your brain so make sure to get it!

0
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on August 26, 2011
at 03:21 PM

I think too much emphasis is placed on Omega-3's as being the cure-all for everything. I don't go out of my way to eat n-3 rich foods, and I have excellent trigs.

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