The virtues of gamma-linoleic acid

We hear much more about omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6. Yet it is the latter that we consume the most. Gamma-linoleic acid is the most widespread and essential for our body, especially as it does not synthesise it by itself. Where can we find this fatty acid? Is it safe for our health? Find out today about the benefits of omega-6, particularly GLA.

Organic evening primrose and borage oil

What is GLA?

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is, together with linoleic acid, the most common essential fatty acid of the omega-6 family in plant products. It cannot be synthesised directly by our bodies, but is made from linoleic acid. Similarly, GLA can be used to produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which makes it a component with many virtues, as we will see later in this article.

Omega-6s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential to the proper functioning of our body, since they participate upstream in the synthesis of certain molecules, such as prostaglandin, which allows the activity of cells and neurons, blood circulation, contraction of the uterus and gastric secretions. However, in order to have sufficient quantities in our bodies, we must consume large quantities of linoleic acid.

The virtues of omega-6

As we explained earlier, GLA allows the synthesis of EPA. This fatty acid from the omega-3 family is recognised for its role on the brain and nervous system, its positive action on mood disorders and its protection against inflammation. It is also anti-allergic and could relieve certain symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

Some clinical studies have thus deduced that GLA is involved in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory diseases[[1] such as osteoarthritis, l’contact eczema[2], certain cancers such as gliomas in the brain and excessively high triglyceride concentrations in the blood. Indeed, the consumption of borage oil, rich in GLA, in patients for several months would have reduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis[3]. However, the results on eczema and triglycerides are still insufficient.

Read alsoRelieve your joints naturally

In addition, omega-6 fatty acids help reduce LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), thus limiting cardiovascular disease, and regulate blood pressure. By facilitating the passage of nutrients into the epidermis, they also protect the skin from toxins and bad bacteria.

Organic evening primrose and borage oil rich in GLA
Evening primrose and borage oils rich in gamma-linolenic acid

Ratio of omega-6 to omega-3

Each fatty acid has a specific function from a nutritional point of view. This is why omega-3s and omega-6s have their own roles, which require a specific balance[4]. In particular, omega-3 EPA inhibits the action of arachidonic acid from the omega-6 family[5]. Malheureusement, dans notre alimentation quotidienne, ce ratio n’est pas souvent respecté.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) tells us that for good cardiovascular health, we should consume five doses of omega-6 for one dose of omega-3. However, on average, we consume fifteen times more in Europe.

Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids for our cells and are involved in many biological hormonal and immune reactions. What is the difference between omega-3 and omega-6? Omega-6s have a pro-inflammatory action, while omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory action. An overdose of omega-6 compared to omega-3 therefore increases the risk of inflammation and with it chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, polyarthritis, cardiovascular disease etc.

For decades, the plants that we have consumed most in our food, both human and animal, have been sunflowers, corn and soybeans, which are found in our meat, eggs and dairy products, but especially in processed fatty products and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. It is only very recently that rapeseed, linseed and alfalfa, which are rich in omega-3, have been introduced into the diet of farm animals.

Where to find gamma linoleic acid?

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in processed fatty foods (crisps, cold cuts, etc.) and in our meat, particularly pork and poultry fed on corn and soya, but also in walnut, hemp and safflower oils. GLA is found mainly in borage, evening primrose, blackcurrant seed, argan and hemp oils.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for omega-6 fatty acids is between 8g and 11g per day for adults. A tablespoon of walnut oil provides about 9g. The studies on rheumatoid arthritis cited above used about 0.5g of GLA, i.e. 2g of stuffing oil or 6g of evening primrose oil.

Borage oil 500mg
Evening Primrose Oil 1000mg

Borage oil

Borage oil is made up of about one third GLA, another third linoleic acid and the rest is a mixture of oleic or palmitic acids, phytosterols and vitamin E. You can find it at Lepivits in the form of capsules that also contain vitamin E.

The benefits of borage oil :

  • It protects the skin;
  • It takes care of nails and hair;
  • It serves as an anti-inflammatory like omega-3, even though it belongs to omega-6;
  • It relieves menstrual pain;
  • It soothes menopausal symptoms;
  • It protects the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Read also5 benefits of borage oil

Evening primrose oil

Like borage oil, which has very similar properties, evening primrose oil helps to relieve the symptoms associated with the menopause and premenstrual disorders, in particular abdominal pain, irritability and depression. It is the second richest oil in omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E.

To remember:

  • Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for our health, but can only be consumed through food;
  • GLA is found mainly in borage oil and evening primrose oil;
  • The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is five to one;
  • The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is five to one; To approach a good diet and an ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, one should follow a Mediterranean diet, combining fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil.
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