What’s GLA & Why is it essential?

What's GLA & Why is it essential?

When it comes to which fats, or specifically, which fatty acids the body needs, it can all sound like a alphabet soup – DHA, EPA, ALA and so on. Well, as it turns out, there’s one more to stir into the soup pot – GLA, or gamma linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid you want to make sure you consume regularly for optimal health.

Why do we call these fats “essential”? The fats we eat contain different fatty acids and some of them are called “essential” – meaning essential to eat – because the body can’t produce them. We need to eat these fatty acids to ensure our body has the building blocks it needs for several different functions. So when we distinguish certain fats as “healthy fats” versus others, it’s because they help us achieve our daily essential fatty acid intake.

While all essential fatty acids play key roles in the body, as women, GLA stands out especially as we move through different lifestages from puberty, to pregnancy, to menopause. GLA helps to optimize (ie “balance”) hormones in our body. In doing so, GLA helps address several of the complaints that can go along with hormone imbalance – dry skin, hair and nails – as well as helping to balance emotions and moods.

Such an important nutrient, in fact, an essential one, one would think that GLA would be found in numerous different foods. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and it’s why many healthcare practitioners prescribe supplements containing GLA like borage, evening primrose, and black currant seed oil. But good news! You can enjoy GLA-rich foods daily, easily. These GLA rich foods include salmon and hemp seeds (or just hemp oil). So consider adding hemp seeds to a salad or soup (AKA recommendation: Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts) or making a pesto sauce from them, or choosing salmon when you make fish, eat sushi, have wild salmon burger or make salmon salad versus tuna salad some days. For some additional ideas and recipes “like” Mom Energy on Facebook to access a FREE download of over 100 eating occasion ideas.

Ashely Koff RD

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and the author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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