September 25, 2016

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

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How does Alpha-linolenic Acid work?

Alpha-linolenic acid is thought to decrease the risk of heart disease by helping to maintain normal heart rhythm and heart pumping. It might also reduce blood clots. Although alpha-linolenic acid seems to benefit the cardiovascular system and might reduce the risk of heart disease, research to date does not show it has a significant effect on cholesterol levels.

Are there safety concerns?

Alpha-linolenic acid is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when used in amounts found in foods. There isn't enough information to know if it is safe in higher amounts. Alpha-linolenic acid from food sources is very well tolerated. However, it is high in calories and may cause weight gain if consumed in excess.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Alpha-linolenic acid is LIKELY SAFE in amounts found in food. But not enough is known about the safety of alpha-linolenic acid during pregnancy and breast-feeding when used in higher amounts than those typically found in foods. Stay on the safe side and avoid using alpha-linolenic acid supplements.

High blood triglyceride levels (fats in the blood): Don't take alpha-linolenic acid supplements if you have high triglycerides. It might make the condition worse.

Prostate cancer. Do not take alpha-linolenic acid supplements if you have prostate cancer or are at high risk for getting prostate cancer (e.g., you have a father or brother with prostate cancer). There is some evidence that alpha-linolenic acid might increase the chance of getting prostate cancer.

Dosing considerations for Alpha-linolenic Acid.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

  • For prevention of coronary heart disease and related events like chest pain or a heart attack: approximately 1.2-2 grams per day from dietary sources seems to be associated with the greatest benefit.
  • For prevention of a second heart attack or other second event in people with coronary heart disease: approximately 1.6 grams per day as part of a Mediterranean diet appears to be beneficial.
Fatty acid dosing is often done based on percentage of daily calories it provides. Some researchers suggest that alpha-linolenic acid should make up roughly 1% of daily calories. This comes to approximately 2 grams based on a 2000 kilocalorie diet.

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