α-Linolenic acid

α-Linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in seeds (chia, flaxseed, see also table below), nuts (notably walnuts), and many common vegetable oils. In terms of its structure, it is named all-cis-9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid. In physiological literature, it is listed by its lipid number, 18:3, and (n−3); its isomer GLA is 18:3 (n−6). α-Linolenic acid is a carboxylic acid with an 18-carbon chain and three cis double bonds. The first double bond is located at the third carbon from the methyl end of the fatty acid chain, known as the n end. Thus, α-linolenic acid is a polyunsaturated n−3 (omega-3) fatty acid. It is an isomer of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a polyunsaturated n−6 (omega-6) fatty acid.