Gamma Linolenic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid which is one of the essential fatty acids that our body needs from outside sources as it can’t be synthesized in our body.
GLA is present in several natural botanicals like borage oil, evening primrose oil, black currant oil. GLA is necessary to save us from many a disorders.
The Chemical Structure Of GLA Molecule:
GLA’s cis n-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid is comprised of 18 carbon atoms and three double bonds. GLA is also known as: 18: 3n-6 and gamma linolenic acid.
Chemically, it is known as 6, 9, 12-octadecatrienoic acid; (Z, Z, Z)-6, 9, 12-octadecatrienoic acid, and cis-6, cis-9, cis-12-octadecatrienoic acid. Gamma linolenic acid is present in borage oil in the form of triglycerides. GLA is concentrated in the sn-2 position in the triglycerides.
Beneficial Actions Of Gamma Linolenic Acid:
Anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic activities are found in borage oil.
How Gamma Linolenic Acid Produces These Benefits – The Mechanism Of Action:
For such kind of info, the metabolism of gamma linolenic acid is to be studied. GLA is metabolized in body to DGLA (Dihomo Gama Linolenic Acid). And DGLA is also a precursor of Prostaglandins as Prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). DGLA further inhibits Leukotriene synthesis which is an inflammatory mediator.
PGE1 initiates several activities that are the basis of anti-inflammatory role such as –
- Inhibitory effects on inflammatory cells like Leukocytes.
- Increasing the concentration of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP).
- Increased cAMP produces several effects like – reduction of release of lysosomal enzymes, chemotaxis, margination and adherence of cells in blood vessels.
- Inhibits platelet aggregation.
So GLA settles down inflammation by DGLA through competitive inhibition of Prostaglandins and Leukotrienes. These are the possible mechanisms for anti-inflammatory, antiatherogenic, anti-thrombotic and antiproliferative actions of gamma linolenic acid.
What Happens To Gamma Linolenic Acid In Our Body – The Phamacokinetics:
All the fat in our body is digested in the small intestine into fatty acids and triglycerides. So like all other fats, GLA with triglyceride from borage oil is absorbed by small intestine after deacylation.
Again within the mucosal cells of small intestine, the reacylation occurs and GLA enters the lymphatics in the form of fat globules (Chylomicron). Lymphatics drain it into blood vessels from where it is circulated to cells all over the body.
GLA is metabolized to DGLA and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and both of them are not found in free state. DGLA and EPA is bound to other lipid or fat molecules in the cell membrane.
DGLA is converted into PGE2 which is further metabolized to other Prostaglandins and then ultimately to a form of dicarboxylic acid that is excreted out of body through urine.
What is Linolenic Acid And Why Do We Need Gamma Linolenic Acid:
Linolenic acid is a common fatty acid that is found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Linolenic acid should be converted to GLA by enzyme D6D (Delta 6 Desaturase) and then GLA is metabolized to PGE1 but this conversion of LA to GLA can be interfered with several factors.
That is why we need gamma linolenic acid because unlike Linolenic acid, GLA supplements can bypass the conversion problems to PGE1. And we are able to have all the benefits of PGE1.
Diseases, aging process or degenerative disorders, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, blood sugar and lack of magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin B complex are some of the factors that hinder with conversion of Linolenic acid to PGE1.
Who Might Be Gamma Linolenic Acid Deficient?
Gamma linolenic acid deficiency is not a recognized term as Vitamin deficiency. It is used only to describe this condition. People especially from Western world can be partially deficient with GLA due to several factors like aging, degenerative disorders, dietary fat intake, diabetes and hypertension like civilization born disorders and many other unknown factors.