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Revista chilena de nutrición

On-line version ISSN 0717-7518


MORALES P, Jessica et al. New dietary sources of alpha-linolenic acid: a critical view. Rev. chil. nutr. [online]. 2012, vol.39, n.3, pp.79-87. ISSN 0717-7518.

Alpha-linolenic acid (C18: 3 ω-3, ALA) is an essential fatty acid that can be elongated and desaturated to become long-chain ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 LCPUFA) having important functions in the body, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5 ω-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22: 6 ω-3, DHA). However, the main metabolic fate of ALA is mitochondrial β-oxidation (energy input), followed by deposition and a very low conversion ratio into ω-3 LCPUFA. However, in recent years a number of evidences have indicated that consumption of significant amounts of ALA can modify tissue levels of (0-3 LCPUFA, including DHA. Particularly, interesting differences in the conversion of ALA to LCPUFA ω-3 are observed, depending on the tissue where it is metabolized. This background, coupled with the low intake of a>3 fatty acids (including ALA, EPA and DHA) by the western population, which produces a significant imbalance in the relationship ω-6/ω-3 fatty acids, entails a great interest in the emergence of vegetable oils with significant content of ALA (over 50% of total fatty acids). This has opened an interesting discussion about the complex metabolism of ALA and its effect on the body. This article presents a background on ALA metabolism, mainly about its conversion to (0-3 LCPUFA on different biological models, where evidence suggests a promising potential for the consumption of vegetable oils rich in ALA as new dietary sources of (0-3 fatty acids.

Keywords : alpha-linolenic acid metabolism; alpha-linolenic acid β-oxidation; long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; doco-sahexaenoic acid.

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