- Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. It is called “essential” because it is needed for normal human growth and development. Nuts, such as walnuts, are good sources of alpha-linolenic acid. It is also found in vegetable oils such as Flaxseed (linseed) oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, and soybean oil, as well as in red meat and dairy products.
- High blood pressure: Eating a diet high in alpha-linolenic acid seems to reduce risk of hypertension by about a third.
- Alpha-linolenic acid is popular for preventing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
- It is used to prevent heart attacks, lower cholesterol, and reverse “hardening of the blood vessels” (atherosclerosis).
- Alpha-linolenic acid is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, diabetes, renal disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
- Other uses include treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), migraine headache, skincancer, depression, and allergic and inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
- Some people use alpha-linolenic acid to prevent cancer.
- 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.
- 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.
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Source: WebMD, “Alpha-linolenic acid”, www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/