Speaker Q&A

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Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Brain Health

Dr. Ameer Taha, PhD

1. Question:

Is there data that shows how long vegetable oils (and their effects) remain in your body once you've stopped consuming them?

 

Answer:

If you reduce your linoleic acid intake from say 7% energy of daily calories to 2% energy for a period of 4 months, you can achieve about a 15-20% reduction in circulating linoleic acid levels.

 

So not too long. Maintaining a low linoleic acid for a prolonged period of time is likely to reduce plasma levels further.



 

2. Question:

Is the level of linoleic acid in a particular oil affected by the manner in which it’s grown and processed?

 

For instance, is there any significant difference in [linoleic] acid levels between say, a mechanically-processed sunflower oil sourced from a large commercial grower versus hand-processed oil created from sunflowers I grew myself using organic methods?

 

I know the latter is "healthier," overall, but does it have lower levels of Omega-6? Thanks!

 

Answer:

Processing is unlikely to change your linoleic acid oil content. It may change levels of oxidized linoleic acid metabolites in oils (the so-called OXLAMs I was talking about).

 

But I don’t know if the change is going to be significant enough to translate into long-term health benefits.

 

As I mentioned in my talk, OXLAM levels in oils/ foods are very low, and in the order of milligrams. In contrast, linoleic acid itself is consumed at about 16 grams per person per day. Your body then oxidizes some of that linoleic acid enzymatically to make OXLAMs.

 

In other words, to reduce circulating OXLAMs, it’s more effective to reduce linoleic acid intake. Dietary OXLAMS contribute little to plasma levels.

 

 

3. Question:
Would you say that the oxidized linoleic acid metabolite tracer is high in the fat tissue because the body is protecting itself by storing in fat?

 

Answer: 

Great question Coleen. For some reason, adipose loved the tracer (oxidized linoleic acid metabolite tracer) compared to heart and liver. But once in there, it got rid of it quickly (ie rapid turnover).

 

So as much as it loves the tracer, it hates it once it takes it in and realizes that it’s not a fatty acid. This is why it tries to get rid of it, either by degrading the oxidized linoleic acid metabolite, or spitting it back to plasma. 

 

In short, you are right, our adipose evolved to handle fat/fatty acids, not oxidized linoleic acid metabolites.

 

Adipose seems to suck anything in, but our data show that it does a pretty good job of processing what it takes in and deciding whether to keep it (e.g fatty acids) or to get rid of it (e.g. oxidized linoleic acid metabolites).

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