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Linoleic Acid: Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid considered essential, meaning the body needs it to function but cannot make it on its own.

    Taking linoleic acid may help your body produce more 2-AG, an endocannabinoid that can bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors.

    Because linoleic acid has undesirable side effects, a better fatty acid, known as C15:0, has been discovered to activate a new, fully functioning endocannabinoid and deliver more promising health benefits. 

Now that we know that all fat isn’t bad for us, it’s important to ensure the fats we are taking are beneficial. Your fatty acid intake is primarily established through dietary sources, but supplementation could be necessary if you have certain health conditions.

One type of fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA), gets little press but is worth examining in greater detail. 

Linoleic Acid vs. Alpha-Linolenic Acid: What’s the Difference?

The information about fatty acids can be confusing, especially when some have very similar names. Two that sound the same but are different are linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. 

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid in foods like flaxseed, canola oil, soy, and walnuts. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is one of two essential omega fatty acids. Your body can convert ALA into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The other essential omega fatty acid is linoleic acid.

Linoleic Acid

This acid, and the topic of our discussion, is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, also known as PUFA. Both dietary linoleic acid and its cousin oleic acid are in high concentrations, primarily in seed oils and vegetable oils like canola, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and corn oil. 

The fatty acid composition of linoleic acid, also called octadecadienoic acid or cis-9, consists of two or more double bonds. It lacks the hydrogen atoms that saturated fats may have. Both ALA and LA are essential because the body doesn’t contain enzymes to create them (through the process of desaturation) from anything else. 

How Linoleic Acid Works

The body metabolizes linoleic acid by converting it to gamma-linolenic acid, which is then converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, which is an important component of neuronal membrane phospholipids. 

This dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid is then finally converted to arachidonic acid. This acid is pretty controversial in the long-chain fatty acid sphere. Here’s why.

  • On the one hand, when arachidonic acid levels are too high, it can lead to blood clotting, constriction of blood vessels, and the creation of more pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, like its n-6 fatty acid metabolites.
  • On the other hand, arachidonic acid can form leukotrienes, which are anti-inflammatory molecules. It may also help lower LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), boost HDL cholesterol, and could support healthy triglyceride levels. This can lower risk factors for medical conditions like atherosclerosis.

One of the most interesting discoveries about how linoleic acid becomes arachidonic acid is how it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

It wasn’t until the nineties that science recognized the endocannabinoid system as a fully functioning network of receptors and signals that plays a role in virtually every system in your body. 

This network controls sleep, mood, hunger, immunity, alertness, and bodily temperature. As such, experts believe that learning how to interact with it better might lead to a better understanding of obesity, sleep issues, mood disorders, and new medicines and treatments for debilitating diseases.

The Cannabinoid Connection

The endocannabinoid system interacts with chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Specifically, cannabinoids connect with the receptors (CB1 and CB2) located within the endocannabinoid system. 

Cannabinoids can be created synthetically, naturally found in plants, or made by our bodies. When our bodies make them, they’re called endocannabinoids. 

The body makes two known endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Of these two, only 2-AG is fully acting, which means it can bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

The Linoleic Acid Path

Interestingly, arachidonic acid (which the body converts from linoleic acid) helps the body synthesize 2-AG, which means supplementing with omega-6 could produce more fully acting endocannabinoids circulating in the body. 

The problem is linoleic acid is subject to oxidation, which means it can go rancid in a supplement before you even take it. Science, however, found a solution: C15:0, another essential fatty acid that the body can use to make a newly discovered, fully functioning endocannabinoid known as pentadecanoylcarnitine (PDC). 

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C15:0: A Better, Broader, and Safer Essential Fatty Acid

We’ve heard that omegas can help lower our risk of cardiovascular disease and keep us healthy. Most people start taking an omega supplement to support heart health and protect against cardiovascular disease. 

Our dietary intake of these essential lipids is usually enough. Still, supplementation might be necessary if you have an acid deficiency or have markers for coronary heart disease. A blood test can determine if you are deficient.

What we haven’t fully understood about omegas is their Achilles heel

  • Omegas don’t repair as many cell types as C15:0. When C15:0 was compared to the most pure omega-3, C15:0 was found to have broader clinically relevant benefits, repairing 10 out of 12 cell types studied. 
  • Some omegas could be toxic to your cells, while C15:0 was found to be safe for 12 out of 12 cell types studied. Omega-3’s (EPA) was found to be toxic to lung and blood vessel cells at the highest doses 

For these reasons, and for the health benefits provided by C15:0, the smarter choice for endocannabinoid synthesis is C15:0. 

What Is C:15:0?

C15:0 is an odd-chain saturated fatty acid that science supports as an essential fatty acid. In fact, C15:0 is the first essential fatty acid to be discovered since the omegas, 90 years ago. Recent studies show that C15:0 is better, broader, and safer than the purest, highest performing omega-3 (pure EPA).

What Does C:15:0 Do?

In addition to being the key to producing the second ever to be discovered fully-acting endocannabinoid, C15:0 supports your health by strengthening your cells and balancing bodily functions. 

  • C15:0 integrates into cell membranes to keep them strong and supported. Omegas are pliable molecules that can leave cell membranes flimsy. 
  • By binding to PPAR receptors in your body, C15:0 helps bring homeostasis to functions like sleep, mood, and even hunger. Studies support that C15:0 is safe for your cells. 
  • C15:0 helps support mitochondrial function, which powers your cells to power your entire body. In studies, mitochondrial function was boosted by 45 percent. 

Further, higher levels of C15:0 has been repeatedly associated with healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improved heart health. Better protection, better health effects, and a better pathway to the benefits of endocannabinoids than omega-6 fatty acids makes this essential fatty acid the obvious choice.

Fatty15: Your Easy C15:0 Source

C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products and some types of fish and plants. However, increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats.

A solution? Fatty15.

Fatty15 is a breakthrough supplement borne from scientific discovery, containing one pure ingredient, FA15™. This vegan-friendly, sustainable ingredient contains the just the right amount of pentadecanoic acid to restore your body’s circulating levels. 

You could feel better, function better, and age on your terms simply by taking this once-a-day supplement that supports your long-term health & wellness, especially as you age. 



Alpha-linolenic acid Information | Mount Sinai - New York

What is Linoleic Acid?|News-Medical.net

The endocannabinoid system: Essential and mysterious - Harvard Health

Pentadecanoylcarnitine is a newly discovered endocannabinoid with pleiotropic activities relevant to supporting physical and mental health | Scientific Reports

Revealed: many common omega-3 fish oil supplements are ‘rancid’|The Guardian

Health Implications of High Dietary Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids |J Nutr|PMC

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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