Linoleic acid (LA) is one of two essential fatty acids, a polyunsaturatrd fat of the omega-6 group. The other essential fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid, a superunsaturated fat of the omega-3 group. Essential fatty acids or EFAs for short, attract oxygen, are chemically reactive, and increase oxidation and the metabolic rate. They absorb sunlight, and this energy increases their ability to react with oxygen about a thousand times. EFAs carry slight negative charges, their molecules repelling each other and this dispersion, known as surface activity, helps among other things to keep membranes fluid and mobile. They can also form bioelectric charges between the oils in the cell membranes and the water inside and outside the cell, and these tiny electrical discharges transmit messages that are significant in heart, membrane, muscle and nerve functions. Of the two EFAs, linoleic acid (or LA) is better known than alpha-linolenic acid (or LNA), mainly because it is less easily destroyed, but many of their functions are common to both.
Linoleic acid is found in abundance in safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame and other Iseed oils.
The main function of LA and LNA is to help produce energy from food and transport this energy where it is needed in the body. They regulate oxidation, that is the "burning" of nutrients to produce energy. They control growth and vitality, mental state and immune protection. They appear to store oxygen in our cells, which keep bacteria, fungi and viruses at bay. LA helps the production of hemoglobin from simpler compounds. EFAs shorten the recovery of fatigued muscles by converting lactic acid to carbon dioxide and water. They are the forerunners of three groups of prostanglandins that regulate many cell functions. They can increase our metabolic rate and result in weight loss. LNA helps produce velvety skin, speeds up healing, increases stamina, reduces inflammation, blood pressure, platelet aggregation, pain and swelling in arthritis, prevents the premenstrual syndrome, and inhibits the growth of some tumors.