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Everything You Need to Know About the Conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA

 

There is an increasing amount of research that says consuming a diet high in Omega 3’s is beneficial for your health including decreasing the risk of heart disease, reducing inflammation in the body, preventing some cancers and decreasing the symptoms of some mood disorders.  However, it can be very confusing to figure out the best way to accomplish this and achieve the correct ratio.  Should you be using a fish oil supplement? And how does the conversion work?

To work optimally your body needs a combination of Omega 6 and Omega 3 essential fatty acids in a proper ratio of 1:1.  This can be acheived from a variety of sources including flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and fish.  Plant-based sources of Omega 3’s only contain ALA (alpha linoleic acid) while marine based sources like salmon contain EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). From the building blocks of ALA your body is able to synthesize ALA  into EPA and DHA meaning that you can acheive a proper Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio while relying on plant based sources like Alligga Flaxseed Oil. There is some debate of how effectively your body is able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA and whether or not supplementation is needed but most studies place it between 8-20% for EPA and 1-9% for DHA

Some factors that decrease your ability to convert ALA into DHA and EPA are:

  • An unbalanced fatty acid ratio.  Omega 3 and Omega 6 conversions use the same enzymes so consuming too many Omega 6’s can decrease the bioavailability of the conversion into Omega 3.
  • Too little zinc, magnesium, calcium, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and vitamin B6
  • Too much vitamin A and copper
  • High Alcohol intake
  • Sex (women appear to be better at converting ALA into EPA)
  • Genetics
  • There is also some evidence that those following a plant-based diet have an increase in their ability to convert ALA into EPA and DHA

 

Flaxseeds are a great source plant-based source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids with each tablespoon containing 2.4 grams of ALA and Alligga Flaxseed Oil contains a whopping 8 grams of ALA per tablespoon. This should put you well on your way to achieving an ideal balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 as well as providing adequate ALA for your body to convert into EPA and DHA.  The great benefit of using our cookable flaxseed oil is its versatility and the ability to use it for cooking, baking, and roasting in place of an oil with an unbalanced ratio like vegetable oil.  This decreases your intake of Omega 6’s while increasing your intake of Omega 3’s and helping you achieve your ideal balance between the two.

The daily recommended intake of DHA and EPA is 500mg combined per day.  As you can see Alligga Flaxseed Oil can help you reach those daily recommended levels, but if you are concerned about maintaining your DHA and EPA levels, or have a specific condition where a Doctor recommends you supplement, there are both plant-based, and fish based EPA and DHA supplements you can take.  However, there is also some evidence that ALA contributes to heart health independent of the benefits received from EPA and DHA so we recommend you include flaxseeds or oil in addition to a healthy, balanced diet rich in heart-healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Table of ALA into EPA Conversion

In a tablespoon of Alligga Flaxseed Oil 8% Conversion Rate 20% Conversion Rate
ALA (mg) 8000 8000
EPA (mg) 640 1600

 

Table of ALA into DHA Conversion

In a Tablespoon of Alligga Flaxseed Oil 1% Conversion Rate 9% Conversion Rate
ALA (mg) 8000 8000
DHA (mg) 80 640

 

DHA and EPA Levels in Fish and Supplements

EPA (mg) DHA (mg)
Salmon (3  ounces) 350 1220
Tuna Canned (3 ounces) 20 170
Spring Valley Fish Oil Supplement (per 1000mg pill) 180 120

 

Sources

https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2010/11/08/Omega-3-ALA-intakes-enough-for-EPA-DPA-levels-for-non-fish-eaters

https://azchia.com/chia-seeds-ala-conversion/

http://www.dhaomega3.org/Overview/Differentiation-of-ALA-plant-sources-from-DHA-+-EPA-marine-sources-as-Dietary-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids-for-Human-Health

http://files.hostgator.co.in/hostgator187395/file/ala_conversion-protected.pdf

http://www.fammed.wisc.edu/files/webfm-uploads/documents/outreach/im/handout_omega3_fats_patient.pdf

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