Linoleic Acid


Linoleic Acid (LA, Vitamin F)








Linoleic acid is a colorless to straw-colored, liquid, polyunsaturated fatty acid of the omega-6 series. Linoleic and another fatty acid, gamma-linolenic (GLA), or gamolenic, produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances that are found in every cell, are needed for the body's overall health maintenance, and must be replenished constantly. Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid, which means that the body cannot produce it, so it must be obtained in the diet. GLA is available directly from evening primrose oil (EPO), black currant seed oil, and borage oil. Most of these oils also contain linoleic acid. Omega-6 deficiency symptoms include dry hair, hair loss, and poor wound healing.

Deficient in Vitamin F and may cause damage to the kidneys, heart and liver. Behavioral disturbances are also noted when deficient. The immune system can become less efficient with resultant slow healing and susceptibility to infections.

Tear glands can also not work effectively and may dry up. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels may be higher when deficient and blood more likely to form clots.

Linoleic acid is an important fatty acid, especially for the growth and development of infants. Fatty acids help to maintain the health of cell membranes, improve nutrient use, and establish and control cellular metabolism. They also provide the raw materials that help in the control of blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation, body temperature, and other body functions. Fatty acids are consumed in the greatest quantities in fat. Although many people are encouraged to consume less fat in their diets, fat is still an important component of a healthy body. Fat stores the body's extra calories, helps insulate the body, and protects body tissues. Fats are also an important energy source during exercise, when the body depends on its calories after using up available carbohydrates. Fat helps in the absorption, and transport through the bloodstream, of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring mixture of various isomers of linoleic acid with conjugated double bonds. The isomers of CLA have different shapes, functions, and benefits. CLA supplements, or fats containing CLA, generally contain a mixture of these isomers. Although CLA is present in many foods and can be synthesized from linoleic acid, it is made naturally in the stomach, especially in ruminant animals. (Ruminants are animals that regurgitate food and chew it, known as "chewing the cud." Cows and sheep are ruminants.) For this reason, CLA is found primarily in dairy and beef products, as well as other foods derived from ruminant animals. Many people have likely decreased their intake of CLA for two reasons. First, beef and dairy fat are usually decreased or deleted from many diets. Second, many cattle are now fed grain diets, which are lower in linoleic acid than the grass on which they used to feed, so there is less CLA in beef and dairy foods. It is possible to increase the CLA in milk by adding a linoleic acid supplement to livestock feed. The supplement also increases lean tissue and decreases fat in the animals, and induces dairy cattle to produce more milk.

Linoleic acid is found in fish oil , meat, milk, and other dairy products. It is also a constituent of many vegetable oils, including evening primrose oil , sunflower oil, borage oil, and safflower oil.

One particular isomer in CLA, known as cis-9, trans-11, is linked to anticancer benefits. Studies have shown CLA to reduce breast, prostate, stomach, colorectal, lung, and skin cancers. The CLA may slow the growth of cells that give rise to cancer. A human study has shown an association between linoleic acids and a decreased risk for prostate cancer .

Infants with cystic fibrosis (CF) often have poor weight gain and growth and an inability to absorb fats. Some research suggests that infants with CF can benefit from formula with a high linoleic acid content because it optimizes nutrition, growth, and feeding efficiency.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which demyelination, loss of myelin sheath material, occurs. (The myelin sheath is a fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the axon of some nerve cells.) This leads to disruptions in nerve impulse transmission. Linoleic acid is believed to be helpful because myelin is composed of lecithin, which is made of linoleic and other fatty acids. Many diets recommended for MS patients include supplements. Patients supplementing with linoleic acid show a smaller increase in disability and reduced severity and duration of attacks than those with no linoleic acid supplement. Evening primrose oil is beneficial because of its specialized fatty-acid content, including linoleic acid.

CLA helps regulate how the body accumulates and retains fat. It has been shown to reduce body fat, improve muscle tone, improve nutrient usage, and reduce the appetite by improving the way the body extracts energy from less food. These properties are useful not only for those trying to lose weight or tone muscles, but also for people with nutrient absorption disorders and other digestive problems. The CLA isomer linked with reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass is trans-10, cis-12.

To the skin, it brings suppleness and a youthful appearance and hair becomes more shiny and healthy when in good supply. It also seems important in the manufacture of sex and adrenal hormones. Fatty acids also stimulate the growth of the beneficial intestinal bacteria. Edema has also been reported with fatty acids in short supply.

Research points to linoleic acid's effective properties when applied topically on the skin and hair i.e. anti-inflammatory, acne reduction, moisture retention properties. Linoleic acid helps relieve flaky, itchy, or rough skin and maintain smooth, moist skin. A tablespoon of linoleic acid-rich foods or oils may be added on a daily basis to help improve and moisturize skin. Linoleic acid may also help with skin disorders such as atopic eczema. Evening primrose oil is taken to help with skin, hair, and nail repair.

Dermatitis is one of the first signs of an Essential Fatty Acid deficiency in both humans and animals. Until 1955, one of the most widely applied treatments for atopic eczema was a high dose of GLA.

Evening primrose oil is a fixed oil obtained from the seeds of Oenothera biennis or other spp. (Onagraceae). It contains about 72% linoleic acid and 9% gamolenic acid.  Safflower oil is the refined fixed oil obtained from the seeds of the safflower, or false (bastard) saffron, Carthamus tinctorius (Compositae). It contains about 75% linoleic acid as well as various saturated fatty acids.


Name % LA ref.
Safflower Oil 78%

Evening Primerose Oil

Grape Seed Oil



Poppy Seed Oil 70%
Sunflower Oil 68%
Hemp Oil 60%
Corn Oil 59%
Wheat Germ Oil 55%
Cottonseed Oil 54%
Soybean Oil 51%
Walnut Oil 51%
Peanut Oil 48%
Sesame Oil 45%
Rice Bran Oil 39%
Pistachio Oil 32.7%
Canola Oil 21%
Egg Yolk 16%
Lard 10%
Olive Oil 10%
Palm Oil 10%
Cocoa Butter 3%
Macadamia Oil 2%
Butter 2%
Coconut Oil 2%
  average val

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The information presented herein  is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.





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