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Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) or fish oil: what’s better?

Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA for short, belongs to an important family of polyunsaturated fats from the omega-3 group. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the human body to function properly. In the process of evolution, our organisms have learned to produce most of these acids, but unfortunately not all of them, and here a very important question arises. What should be included in our diet to supplement it with the necessary omega-3 fatty acids? Products containing ALA, or maybe the popular fish oil?

There is a widespread belief that if we want to supply our body with omega-3 fatty acids, we have to consume fish oil. This is not so obvious, and what’s more, in some cases it can even be harmful. So it is worth noting that alpha-linolenic acid is an excellent example proving you can supply the body with an adequate dose of omega-3 acids, in a way that is both safe for the environment and for ourselves.

 How important is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) for us?

Omega-3 fatty acids are an extremely important group of acids (which cannot be synthesized by humans on their own) and this group of acids includes, among others, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). We call this group of acids exogenous because, as stated before, they cannot be synthesized by our body and must be supplied with food.

It should be noted that EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid), derived, among others, from fish oil, are not essential acids. Organisms of mammals, including humans, are able to produce them from ALA. If the diet is poor in this ingredient, it is necessary to reach for products containing an appropriate dose of it.

How does alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) work?

After being supplied to the human body, alpha-linolenic acid is converted into EPA and DHA acids by biosynthesis. In addition, ALA also has another positive effect on the body, because it has an antibacterial and antifungal effect and participates in important metabolic processes. A diet rich in ALA, for example, has a positive effect on the appearance of skin, proper functioning of our heart and our eyesight, but it also improves concentration and makes people more resistant to stress.

Supplying our body with the right amount of ALA is what we need for life. Its deficiency affects many aspects of health, deteriorating it. Correct supplementation, necessary in case of an imperfect diet, has a positive effect on the entire body, which has been proven by scientific research. So where do we obtain the much needed dietary component, i.e. ALA?

Where to find ALA?

Alpha-linolenic acid can be found, among others, in hazelnuts, walnuts, grape and pumpkin seeds, wheat sprouts, soybeans and tofu. However, the main source of ALA are vegetable oils, especially linseed and chia oil. It is from them that TriOmega concentrate is obtained.

Poorly diversified diet of contemporary people forces us to consume a large amount of these oils, which does not necessarily go hand in hand with our preference for tasty dishes (not everyone must like the taste of linseed oil and chia oil). You can evensay that this is one of the main reasons for ALA deficiency and it should also be the reason to become interested in its additional supplementation. Our TriOmega Concentrate is made from flax or chia seeds, which, through a technological process, are stripped of most of the undesirable ingredients, and the result is a concentrate with ALA content exceeding 80%. The product obtained in this way does not contain any zoonotic products, so it is in accordance with the rules of vegan and vegetarian diet, which cannot be said of capsules with fish oil. Some capsule casings have gelatine in their composition. It is made from pork and animal remains, because animal skin, bones and even tendons are often used in its production process. Unfortunately, this information is not always on the packaging or the consumer may not be aware of what gelatine really is.

Fish oil– not so ideal?

Fish oil, comes from, for instance, shark liver, cod liver or fish carcasses with a high fat content. Fish oil contains many ingredients with high nutritional value that bring about positive health effects, but other issues need to be also taken into account. Consumers do not know where the fish used as a raw material for fish oil were caught. In the vast majority of cases, this information is not provided on the packaging, and often the producer does not even have such information, because of the complicated way of distribution ‘from the fish caught to the capsule sold’.

Fish in some fisheries may feed on food contaminated with heavy metal salts. Their concentration can reach dangerous levels due to bioaccumulation along the food chain. Although the resulting fish oil supplies the human body with EPA and DHA , it can also cause other health problems. When choosing fish oil, you should also pay attention to its composition in order to ensure that it contains a sufficient amount of omega acids.

What’s better – ALA or fish oil?

Considering all the pros and cons, we cannot ignore the fact that ALA is an essential fatty acid from the omega-3 group, which is absolutely necessary in our diet, and this is a fundamental advantage of ALA over EPA and DHA. Another unquestionable advantage of products based on vegetable oils over those from marine animals is their compliance with the rules of vegan diet.

Given the difficulty of selecting safe EPA and DHA sources based on fish oil, products containing ALA from vegetable oil are becoming a better and more reliable supplement improving human health. We do not usually use products that are prepared with the greatest care during the technological process and yet we must be aware of what we choose as one of the components of our diet. After all, our health depends on it.

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