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What happens to omega-3s that don't get converted to DHA/EPA?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 06, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Flax, canola, and friends have lots of ALA that doesn't get converted to DHA/EPA. What if anything does it get converted to, and is the end product good, bad, or neutral?

(P.S. I'm not looking for "PUFA gets oxidized!!!")

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 06, 2010
at 10:06 PM

This is complex stuff and I'm not confident that ALA doesn't have any direct anti-inflammatory properties. That said, your idea is generally correct - unconverted ALA cannot form eicosanoids.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on October 06, 2010
at 08:39 PM

So if ALA doesn't get converted to long chain PUFA, then it can't exert anti-inflammatory effects via signaling pathways? I've seen studies on the anti-inflammatory action of flax, which is less than fish, but still there. Since (iii) probably has nothing to do with inflammation, would ALA as part of (ii) potentially have an effect on inflammation?

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1 Answers

1
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 06, 2010
at 08:14 PM

AKAIK, PUFAs are used by the body mainly (i) to make signaling molecules, (ii) as part of cell membranes, and (iii) as food.

Short-chain (i.e., ALA and LA) PUFAs can be used for (ii) and (iii) or they can be converted into long-chain PUFAs to be used for (i). Long chain PUFAs can be used for (i), (ii), or (iii).

Generally, it's better to have short-chain PUFAs in your membranes than long-chain (cause they are less prone to oxidation).

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on October 06, 2010
at 08:39 PM

So if ALA doesn't get converted to long chain PUFA, then it can't exert anti-inflammatory effects via signaling pathways? I've seen studies on the anti-inflammatory action of flax, which is less than fish, but still there. Since (iii) probably has nothing to do with inflammation, would ALA as part of (ii) potentially have an effect on inflammation?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on October 06, 2010
at 10:06 PM

This is complex stuff and I'm not confident that ALA doesn't have any direct anti-inflammatory properties. That said, your idea is generally correct - unconverted ALA cannot form eicosanoids.

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