Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) 63, 1123–1129; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2009.41; published online 8 July 2009

Bioavailability of α-linolenic acid from flaxseed diets as a function of the age of the subject

A Patenaude1,2,5, D Rodriguez-Leyva3,5, A L Edel1,2, E Dibrov1,2, C M C Dupasquier1,2, J A Austria1,2, M N Richard1,2, M N Chahine1,2, L J Malcolmson4 and G N Pierce1,2

  1. 1Cell Biology Laboratory, Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM), St Boniface Hospital Research Centre
  2. 2Department of Physiology, Faculties of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  3. 3Cardiovascular Research Division, V.I. Lenin University Hospital, Holguin, Cuba
  4. 4Canadian International Grain Institute, Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Correspondence: Dr GN Pierce, St Boniface Hospital Research Centre, 351 Tache Ave., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R2H 2A6. E-mail: gpierce@sbrc.ca

5These authors contributed equally to this work.

Received 11 August 2008; Revised 10 March 2009; Accepted 15 April 2009; Published online 8 July 2009.

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Abstract

Background:

 

Dietary flaxseed may have beneficial cardiovascular effects. An aged population has a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, but they may react differently to flaxseed in the diet.

Objective:

 

To investigate the response, over a period of 4 weeks, of subjects aged 18–29 or 45–69 years to a diet containing the same amount of α-linolenic acid (ALA) (6g) introduced in the form of ground flaxseed (30g) or flaxseed oil.

Results:

 

All subjects who received flaxseed oil showed a significant increase in plasma ALA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) concentrations over the course of this study. Subjects who received ground flaxseed in the 18–29-year-old group showed a statistically significant increase in their plasma ALA levels, and although there was a trend in the same direction for the 45–69-year-old subjects, this did not achieve statistical significance. The diets induced no major changes in platelet aggregation, plasma total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in any of the groups. Younger subjects showed a decrease in triglyceride (TG) values compared with older subjects. There were no significant side effects that caused compliancy issues.

Conclusion:

 

Subject age does not seem to be a major determining factor in influencing ALA absorption from a flaxseed-supplemented diet nor in the metabolism of ALA to EPA in the groups fed flaxseed oil. Concerns about side effects in older subjects administered a higher fiber load in a flaxseed-supplemented diet are not justified. However, younger but not older subjects showed a beneficial decrease in circulating TGs due to flaxseed supplementation.

Keywords:

omega-3 fatty acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), platelet aggregation, linseed, cardiovascular disease, aging

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