Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid of the omega-6 group. Like all other essential fatty acids, GLA must be obtained from our diets as our bodies are unable to synthetize it.
GLA is involved in hormone synthesis, reproductive processes, proper growth and development, cognitive function, metabolism regulation, bone health maintenance and epidermal moisturization.
Among the best sources of GLA are:
- Virgin Evening Primrose Oil
- Virgin Borage Seed Oil
- Virgin Blackcurrant Seed Oil
- Mother´s Milk
- Virgin Hemp Seed Oil
- Virgin Flax Seed Oil
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Organic Spirulina
Until recently it was believed that all the GLA we needed could be produced from linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid). New research suggests that factors such as infections, age, elevated alcohol consumption, compromised immunity, etc, could interfere with GLA conversion and therefore GLA-rich foods should be consumed on a daily basis.
GLA is converted by enzymatic reactions into DGLA (dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid) and then into arachidonic acid (AA). Arachidonic acid is subsequently transformed into eicosanoids (prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes). These compounds regulate and control different bodily functions, including dilation and vasoconstriction, bloow pressure and inflammation.
Eicosanoids can either take the pro-inflammatory, or the anti-inflammatory pathway. This is very much dependent upon a high GLA intake, genetics as well as activity of D5D (delta-5-desaturase) enzyme.
Deactivation of the DG5 enzyme and thus inhibition of the pro-inflammatory path is possible if the omega-3 levels are optimum. In order to support such levels it is paramount that our omega-6 and omega-3 ratio is 4:1, or lower.
Most arachidonic acid comes from animal sources, for this reason vegetarian diets have been shown to support the treatment of inflammatory processes due to diminished availability of AA.
GLA (anti-inflammatory pathway) benefits the following conditions:
- Weight-loss (as long as the GLA comes from cold-pressed oils)
Scientific studies have provided clear evidence that people who suffer from inflammatory cutaneous ailments have low GLA blood serum concentrations.
This has led us to incorporate these fatty acids into our formulas as a means of helping to normalize and support the skin´s natural functions.
Premium grade GLA can provide relief to the following skin ailments:
Psoriasis: by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation at dermal level, itching and irritation are diminished.
Eczema: reduces transepidermal water loss, pruritus scaliness and flakiness. It is an alternative treatment to corticoids and topical immunomodulators.
Dry skin: restores and maintains adequate moisture levels.
Acne: topical application of GLA breaks down sebum buildup in the pores, hence preventing them from becoming clogged and reducing the appearance of impurities.
Four major food oils (palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower) provide more than 100 million metric tons annually, providing more than 32 million metric tons of omega-6 linoleic acid and 4 million metric tons of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (1)
(1) Gunstone, Frank (December 2007). "Market update: Palm oil". International News on Fats, Oils and Related Materials 18 (12): 835–6.