Back To Basics: How Are ALA & LA Used In The Body?
You might have heard of ALA and LA. If you have or you haven't, in this blog, we’re going to go back to basics with a quick rundown of what they are and how your body uses them. That way, you can make an informed decision about how important they are to you.
What Are They?
ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid) and LA (Linoleic Acid) are essential fatty acids. That means that our bodies can’t make them from other things. We need to get them from our diet.
LA is an Omega 6 fatty acid, and ALA is an Omega 3. So to get both in your diet, you need to make sure you have both Omegas in sufficient amounts. The ideal ratio is 2:1 of Omegas 3:6.
How Does Your Body Use Them?
Your body puts these two nutrients to a lot of work. LA, in particular, plays a wide range of crucial roles in your body.
The primary use of LA and ALA in the body is as a fuel source. They are both very calorie-dense, which makes them an efficient source of energy. With nine calories per gram, they pack a potent punch when you need a boost of energy.
Because ALA and LA store such a large amount of energy, they are an ideal fuel for intense exercise. The massive hit of energy from such a small amount of food can benefit any activity that involves strength or endurance.
Build Cells For Growth And Development
Both ALA and LA are vital components for building cell membranes. This is the outer layer of your cells that helps them keep their structure and controls what can come and go from your cells.
In particular, LA is used in the cell membrane of your epidermis - the top layer of your skin. It is crucial for helping these cells control how water flows in and out of your skin. Most importantly, it makes sure that your skin remains waterproof. Believe us when we say that you don’t want to imagine life without waterproof skin!
ALA, in particular in used for the growth and development of new cells. This is clearly seen in pregnant women and young children. Pregnant women are advised to consume a minimum amount of ALA in their diet to help their child grow properly. Taking Omega 3 supplements with ALA has been shown in some studies to reduce the risks of premature birth and low birth weights.
Produce Other Vital Nutrients
ALA is primarily used for energy productions, but if your body is low on other nutrients, it can create DHA and EPA. These are slightly smaller fatty acids that play a significant role in eye health. It’s best to get these directly from your diet, but it’s good to know your body can make them from ALA in a pinch.
LA is used to create a broad raft of different chemicals vital to your body’s function. It is broken down to make shorter chain fatty acids, which can then be used by your body. LA is a critical ingredient in making a lot of the chemicals your body needs. It is especially important in the production of hormones.
Support The Function Of Many Body Systems
The hormones that can be produced from LA are involved in almost every system in your body. This means that your consumption of LA supports your body in regulating your blood pressure, helping your blood to clot, and managing your immune response, to name just a few. Basically, LA is one of the ingredients needed to let your cells communicate with each other. We all know how important communication is.
Health Benefits Of LA And ALA
There are a lot of claims about the health benefits of taking ALA and LA supplements. They are essential nutrients, but not all of the claims made about them are based on solid science. The things that can be proven to a high level of certainty are still pretty incredible, so there’s no need to make up more. Here are the things that we know for sure.
Reduces Joint Pain - Both of these nutrients have been shown to have a positive impact on the joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s believed this is due to their well known anti-inflammatory effects.
Lowers Risk of Heart Disease - LA has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. This is especially true when LA is used as a replacement for saturated fats in your diet. Consumption of ALA has also been seen to produce a small reduction in Coronary Heart Disease risk.
So, that’s the basics on ALA and LA. Hopefully, this knowledge can help you make an informed decision of how to use and consume these in your diet.