Standard Article

Gamma Linolenic Acid Oils

  1. Rakesh Kapoor,
  2. Harikumar Nair

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047167849X.bio026

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

How to Cite

Kapoor, R. and Nair, H. 2005. Gamma Linolenic Acid Oils. Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products. 3:4.

Author Information

  1. Bioriginal Food & Science Corp., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Gamma linolenic acid (GLA, cis-6, cis-9, cis-12-octadecatrienoic acid) is a conditionally essential fatty acid of the n-6 family. It is produced in the mammalian body from enzymatic desaturation of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that must be supplied by the diet. It is widely distributed in plant kingdom in trace amounts and is not present in major commercial vegetable seed oils. It is present in seeds of many species belonging to families Aceraceae, Boraginaceae, Cannabinaceae, Liliaceae, Onagraceae, Ranunculaceae, Saxifragaceae, and Scrophulariaceae. A very limited number of plant sources have been commercialized in last 30 years as a source of GLA, mainly in the health food industry and, to a limited extent, in pharmaceutical, pet food, and cosmetic industries. These include oils of borage, black currant, evening primrose, and recently, hemp. The total market for GLA-containing oils is about $60–$70 million per year.

Research on GLA in the last three decades has focused on the physiologic and pharmacologic effects, including its effects on second messenger system in the body. On the production side, the research focus is on identification of new sources and yield optimization. This chapter reviews the current state of knowledge about sources and nutritional and health benefits of GLA and attempts to identify areas for future research that will help develop markets for GLA.


  • gamma linolenic acid;
  • essential fatty acid;
  • borage;
  • evening primrose;
  • structured lipids;
  • hemp;
  • black currant