Benefits of GLA
By Alyssa O'Brien, RD, LD
May 1, 2017
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is a special type of fat in the omega-6 family. We need a proper balance of essential fatty acids from omega-6 in our body to thrive. Think of GLA as an activated form of omega-6 that nourishes your cells and decreases inflammation and without it, things don’t work properly. What does that mean? It means getting the right amount of GLA can maintain youthful skin, working hormones, and an efficient metabolism. Even breast milk is full of essential fatty acids such as GLA but as we get older, we don’t have activated sources of GLA, like breast milk, in our diet anymore. For a more adult source of GLA, we are sharing that we can get GLA from evening primrose or borage seed oil. Phew, no breast milk for us!
GLA can be most effective for these three things:
- Skin – GLA promotes hydration and elasticity inside and out
- Weight – GLA potentiates fat loss and increases energy
- PMS & Menopause – GLA supports hormones and reduces inflammation
Skin: The integumentary system (skin, hair, nails, and glands) is your largest organ. It’s made up of countless cells that rely on essential fatty acid content of GLA to stay resilient and supple, inside and out. Cracking skin, dry hair and brittle nails may indicate you need more fats like GLA. If you’re dealing with dermatitis, you will be happy to know that GLA is an effective treatment for some. (1) The benefits don’t stop there; GLA helps maintain skin’s moisture and elasticity as we age. (2) Plus, beyond skin benefits, it might be surprising that some of our clients find GLA relieves incontinence or asthma. In both cases, GLA supports the lining of the bladder and lungs to work better and stay flexible.
Weight: Simply put, your body needs the right kind of fats to lose fat. GLA is one of the right kinds to turn on your body’s fat burning network. GLA makes a certain kind of prostaglandin (a fat that works like a hormone) to activate the metabolism. (3) Through this messaging network, GLA revs up fat burning and boosts energy. When working with clients, we often find that a lack of essential fatty acids, like GLA, is a missing component to activating fat burning for weight loss.
PMS and Menopause: If you experience PMS or menopausal symptoms, it could be from hormonal imbalances or excess inflammation – maybe both. One safe solution is GLA. A deficiency of essential fatty acids like GLA, contributes to the inflammation that makes symptoms worse. Your body also needs GLA to make good quality, functioning hormones. Although more research is needed on this topic, after supplementing with GLA, some women report fewer symptoms ranging from decreased breast pain to improved moods. Keeping your blood sugar low and taking the right dose of GLA may help to correct essential fatty acid imbalances associated with PMS and menopausal symptoms.
In our nutritional counseling, we have seen evening primrose oil to be helpful for younger women and borage oil for women after age thirty. Whichever form is right for you, an effective dose can range from 300-1000mg per day.
GLA is safe for teens and adults. For more specific information on your personal health history, consider coming in to talk with one of our nutritionist and dieticians to learn more.
3. Gittleman, Ann Louise. The New Fat Flush Plan. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2017