GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid, is a type of essential fatty acid that is obtained from plant resources. GLA supplements are available in liquid and capsule form and are made from sources such as evening primrose oil and borage oil. A trustworthy supplement should be packaged in a light-resistant container, stamped with an expiration or freshness date, and follow FDA-required labeling practices. Supplements should also be refrigerated due to their susceptibility to rancidity.
GLA supplements contains omega-6 fatty acids, which play an important role in health, specifically in cognitive function, as well as human growth and development. A healthy diet consists of a balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, typically containing a ratio of 2:1 to 4:1, omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. While many types of omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation, a GLA supplement may actually reduce inflammation. This occurs when the body converts GLA into dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, an inflammation-fighting compound.
The fatty acids contained in a GLA supplement are also referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs are divided into three main categories, including omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. They play a vital role in promoting skin and hair growth, as well as helping regulate metabolism and the reproductive system.
A solid supplement choice will adhere to the Food and Drug Administration’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirements. GMP regulations require that dietary supplement companies, such as manufacturers, guarantee the purity, strength, and composition of their supplements. A dependable supplement is produced from a reputable, well-established company that meets GMP regulations and is quality tested by an independent, third-party quality testing organization.
The body uses gamma-linolenic acids to produce hormone-like substances, prostaglandins, which promote proper cell function and help regulate the immune system. A GLA supplement can be administered for a variety of purposes, such as arthritis, allergies, premenstrual syndrome, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. Supplements may also help fight certain types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
While primrose oil is the most common source of fatty acids for GLA supplements, other sources include borage oil, flax oil, fungal oil, and black currant oil. Supplements generally range in strength from .02 ounces (approximately 500 mg) to .1 ounces (about 3000 mg) and can contain 8 to 10 percent gamma-linolenic acid. The benefits of taking a supplement may take up to six months to manifest. No contraindications or serious side effects have been reported with GLA supplementation.