What is GLA?

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gamma-linoleic acid

GLA is an abbreviation for gamma-linoleic acid. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found mainly in plant-based oils like oils in borage seeds, evening primrose and black currant seeds. Omega-6 fats are regarded as crucial fatty acids. They are important in the health of human beings but are not generated by the body. Instead, these fatty acids are acquired from the food that we eat. Together with omega-3 fatty acids, the omega-6 acids are important in enhancing brain functionality and normal development and growth. Omega-6 fatty acids are also referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids and they aid in skin and hair growth stimulation, maintaining healthy bones, controlling metabolism and maintenance of the reproductive system. There are different kinds of omega-6 fatty acids, majority of which occur in vegetable oils and take linoleic acid form. Conversion of linoleic acid into GLA is done by the body before GLA is transformed to arachidonic acid.

Importance of GLA

Omega-6 fatty acids react differently. Arachidonic and linoleic acids are not very healthy because they can cause inflammation. On the other hand, GLA reduces inflammation. A lot of GLA that is taken in supplement form is converted into DGLA which reduces inflammation. Where there are sufficient nutrients such as magnesium, vitamins B3, C and B6 and zinc in the body, converting GLA to DGLA is much easier. Studies show that GLA is useful in fighting certain health conditions. For instance, taking GLA for about 6 months helps relied signs of nerve pains in persons who have diabetic neuropathy. However, GLA is much effective in patients with a good control of blood sugar than in those whose control of blood sugar is poor. There are mixed reactions regarding the ability of evening primrose olds to decrease signs of rheumatoid arthritis. Some experts argue that these oils can help reduce swelling, pain, and morning stiffness while others say the oils do not have any effect. Arthritis patients who use GLA can take up to 3 months to experience changes.

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