Linoleic Acid

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

An essential fatty acid (EFA), linoleic acid is considered one of the “good fats”: promoting overall health by supporting balanced hormone secretion, healthy joints and connective tissue, and aiding the synthesis of protein — a building block of muscle — plus enhancing the immune, reproductive, and nervous systems.

Other names for Linoleic Acid

omega-6 essential fatty acid

Where to find Linoleic Acid

Vegetable oils, such as safflower, soybean, and corn.

Note Because essential fatty acids are easily damaged, they should always be stored in a cool, dry place away from light.

Popup: Foods highest in Linoleic Acid

Why athletes use Linoleic Acid

Consuming adequate EFA’s is important for athletes to prevent deficiency, which can actually increase bodyfat. Linoleic acid may also help decrease muscle breakdown and inflammation, increase muscle growth, speed recovery, support hormone secretion, and promote the health of joints and connective tissue.

Ways that Linoleic Acid can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:

* Inhibit the breakdown and inflammation of tissues to support muscle building and speed recovery
* Support testosterone production in men for optimal muscle development
* Support healthy joints and connective tissue by reducing inflammation and keeping tissues lubricated

Ways that Linoleic Acid can enhance Energy & Endurance:

* Boost lung function and the transport of oxygen to support endurance

Ways that Linoleic Acid can enhance Mental Functioning:

* Support mental functioning and response time by aiding nerve impulse transmission

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Linoleic Acid deficiency

Deficiency of Linoleic Acid has been linked to:

* Fatigue/Weakness
* Dry skin
* Impaired immune function
* Gastrointestinal disorders
* Cardiovascular disease
* Circulatory complications
* Retarded growth
* Cognitive dysfunction
* Sterility
* Aches and pains
* Diarrhea
* Gallstones
* Impaired healing of wounds
* Diabetes

Potential uses for Linoleic Acid

Research indicates that Linoleic Acid may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Arthritis
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Skin allergies
  • Prostatitis
  • Asthma
  • Menstrual pain

Diabetes
* Inflammatory bowel disease

DISCUSSION

More about Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid is a healthy form of unsaturated fat. It is considered essential because our bodies cannot produce it, and therefore, we must get it from the foods we eat or from supplementation. Linoleic acid comes primarily from vegetable oils, such as safflower, soybean, and corn.

An essential fatty acid (EFA), linoleic acid is considered one of the “good fats” because it plays a critical role in thousands of chemical reactions within our bodies. Unfortunately, EFA’s are routinely processed out of most foods. And to make matters worse, unnatural oils, such as unhealthy trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated oils are added back in to take their place.

How does it work?

Linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3) work together in a kind of balancing act to help regulate thousands of biochemical reactions within our bodies. For example, together they support prostaglandins, vital hormone-like substances that regulate many of the major systems in our bodies, including immune, cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive.

Linoleic acid also helps construct the membranes in every cell of our bodies, protecting them from harmful invaders and contributing to their structural integrity. But when a diet is out of balance, and the majority of fats consumed are “bad,” saturated fats or trans-fatty acids, these membranes are much less elastic, and their functions are disrupted, which leads to a disruption of virtually all cellular processes, causing cell injury and eventually death.

Performance essential?

Linoleic acid supports athletic performance in a number of ways. It decreases muscle breakdown, increases muscle growth, decreases the time it takes for muscles to recover after exercise, aids in the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream, enhances a number of metabolic functions, and supports hormone secretion, including testosterone.

It may also help keep the skin and joints healthy via its lubricating properties and anti-inflammatory effects. For this reason, many people with painful joint conditions, including arthritis, use linoleic acid in combination with linolenic acid to decrease inflammation and pain.

Deficiency signs and symptoms

Although most people are at the greatest risk for linolenic acid (omega-3) deficiencies, certain groups, such as the elderly and people on low-fat diets, may be at high risk for linoleic acid (omega-6) deficiencies.

One of the more surprising consequences of a linoleic deficiency is weight gain. It may seem odd that a shortage of dietary fat would result in added weight, but it all comes down to getting the right kinds of fats. Studies show diets high in non-essential fatty acids (saturated fats like those found in red meats) but low in essential fatty acids actually slow metabolism and add to bodyfat accumulation.

A linoleic acid deficiency can also lead to a deficiency in another essential fatty acid, called arachidonic acid, necessary for the production of key prostaglandins that help control inflammation, among other things.

In conclusion

Clearly, there are many reasons to take an essential fatty acid supplement that contains a balance of linoleic and linolenic essential fatty acids. Whether you’re looking to achieve optimal performance or optimal health, studies show essential fatty acids can offer you that critical edge you may not get from diet alone.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

From 3 to 6 grams (one teaspoon) per day of omega-6 is recommended to prevent deficiencies and 9 to 18 grams per day to support optimal health and performance.

Timing

Linoleic acid is best taken with or as part of meals.

Synergists of Linoleic Acid

Magnesium, selenium, zinc, niacin, Vitamin B6, A, C, and E are all needed for the conversion of linoleic acid to other omega-6 fatty acids.

Toxicity of Linoleic Acid

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Alexander, J.W., “Immunonutrition: The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” Nutrition 14.7-8 (1998) : 627-33.
  • Anderson, G.J., and Connor, W.E., “On the Demonstration of Omega-3 Essential-Fatty-Acid Deficiency in Humans (editorial),” Am J Clin Nutr, 49.4 (1989) : 585-7.
  • Brilla, L.R., and Landerholm, T.E., “Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation and Exercise on Serum Lipids and Aerobic Fitness,” J Sports Med Phys Fitness 30.2 (1990) : 173-80.
  • Horrobin, D.F., “The Importance of Gamma-Linolenic Acid and Prostaglandin E1 in Human Nutrition and Medicine,” J Holistic Med 3 (1981) : 118-39.
  • Meyer, F., et al., “Dietary Fat and Prostate Cancer Survival,” Cancer Causes Control 10.4 (1999) : 245-51.
  • Mansel, R.E., et al., “Effects of Essential Fatty Acids on Cyclical Mastalgia and Noncyclical Breast Disorders,” In Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids: Pathophysiology and Roles in Clinical Medicine, ed. D.F. Horrobin (New York: Alan R Liss, 1990) : 557-66.
  • Prisco, D., et al., “Effect of Medium-Term Supplementation with a Moderate Dose of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Blood Pressure in Mild Hypertensive Patients,” Thromb Res 91.3 (1998) : 105-12.
  • Sargent, J.R., “Fish Oils and Human Diet,” Br J Nutr 78.S1 (1997) : S5-13.
  • Schmidt, E.B., and Dyerberg, J., “Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Current Status in Cardiovascular Medicine,” Drugs 47.3 (1994) : 405-24.
  • Yehuda, S., “Essential Fatty Acids Are Mediators of Brain Biochemistry and Cognitive Functions,” J Neurosci Res 56.6 (1999) : 565-70.