Ten postmenopausal women (age 55.6 ± 0.8 years, BMI 24.6 ± 1.1 kg/m2) ingested 25 g/day milled chia seed during a 7-week period, with six plasma samples collected for measurement of α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Subjects operated as their own controls with overnight fasted blood samples taken at baseline (average of two samples), and then after 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 weeks supplementation. Plasma ALA increased significantly after one week supplementation and was 138 % above baseline levels by the end of the study (overall time effect, P < 0.001). EPA increased 30 % above baseline (overall time effect, P = 0.019) and was correlated across time with ALA (r = 0.84, P = 0.02). No significant change in plasma DPA levels was measured (overall time effect, P = 0.067). Plasma DHA decreased slightly by the end of the study (overall time effect, P = 0.030) and was not correlated with change in ALA. In conclusion, ingestion of 25 g/day milled chia seeds for seven weeks by postmenopausal women resulted in significant increases in plasma ALA and EPA but not DPA and DHA.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Analysis of variance
Association of Official Agricultural Chemists
Body mass index
Gas chromatography time of flight mass spectrometry
High performance liquid chromatography time of flight mass spectrometry
Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
Anderson BM, Ma DWL (2009) Are all n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids created equal? Lipids Health Dis 8:33–52
Harper CR, Edwards MJ, Defilipis AP, Jacobson TA (2006) Flaxseed oil increases the plasma concentrations of cardioprotective (n-3) fatty acids in humans. J Nutr 136:83–87
Whelan J, Rust C (2006) Innovative dietary sources of n-3 fatty acids. Annu Rev Nutr 26:75–103
Burdge GC, Finnegan YE, Minihane AM, Williams CM, Wootton SA (2003) Effect of altered dietary n-3 fatty acid intake upon plasma lipid fatty acid composition, conversion of C-13 alpha-linolenic acid to longer-chain fatty acids and partitioning towards beta-oxidation in older men. Br J Nutr 90:311–321
Burdge GC, Jones AE, Wootton SA (2002) Eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids are the principal products of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism in young men. Br J Nutr 88:355–363
Burdge GC, Wootton SA (2003) Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. Br J Nutr 88:411–420
Brenna JT, Salem N, Sinclair AJ, Cunnane SC (2009) Alpha-linolenic acid supplementation and conversion to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in humans. Prostag Leukotr Ess 80:85–91
Ayerza R, Coates W (2007) Effect of dietary alpha-linolenic fatty acid derived from chia when fed as ground seed, whole seed and oil on lipid content and fatty acid composition of rat plasma. Ann Nutr Metab 51:27–34
Ayerza R, Coates W, Lauria M (2002) Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) as an omega-3 fatty acid source for broilers: influence on fatty acid composition, cholesterol and fat content of white and dark meats, growth performance, and sensory characteristics. Poult Sci 81:826–837
Chicco AG, D’Alessandro ME, Hein GJ, Oliva ME, Lombardo YB (2009) Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich in alpha-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats. Br J Nutr 101:41–50
Vuksan V, Whitham D, Sievenpiper JL, Jenkins AL, Rogovik AL, Bazinet RP, Vidgen E, Hanna A (2007) Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care 30:2804–2810
Nieman DC, Cayea EJ, Austin MD, Henson DA, McAnulty SR, Jin F (2009) Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutr Res 29:414–418
Austria JA, Richard MN, Chahine MN, Edel AL, Malcomson LJ, Dupasquier CMC, Pierce GN (2008) Bioavailability of alpha-linolenic acid in subjects after ingestion of three different forms of flaxseed. J Am Coll Nutr 27:214–221
Goyens PL, Spilker ME, Zock PL, Katan MB, Mensink RP (2006) Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid in humans is influenced by the absolute amounts of alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid in the diet and not by their ratio. Am J Clin Nutr 84:44–53
Taylor CG, Noto AD, Stringer DM, Froese S, Malcolmson L (2010) Dietary milled flaxseed and flaxseed oil improve n-3 fatty acid status and do not affect glycemic control in individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr 29:72–80
Plourde M, Cunnane SC (2007) Extremely limited synthesis of long chain polyunsaturates in adults: implications for their dietary essentiality and use as supplements. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 32:619–634
Pawlosky R, Hibbeln J, Lin Y, Salem N (2003) N-3 fatty acid metabolism in women. Br J Nutr 90:993–994
Vermunt SH, Mensink RP, Simonis MM, Hornstra G (2000) Effects of dietary alpha-linolenic acid on the conversion and oxidation of 13 C-alpha-linolenic acid. Lipids 35:137–142
Welch AA, Shakya-Shrestha S, Lentjes MA, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT (2010) Dietary intake and status of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a population of fish-eating and non-fish-eating meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans and the precursor-product ratio of alpha-linolenic acid to long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: results from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. Am J Clin Nutr 92:1040–1051
Nieman DC, Gillitt N, Jin F, Henson DA, Kennerly K, Shanely A, Ore B, Su MM, Schwartz S (2012) Chia seed supplementation and disease risk factors in overweight women: a metabolomics investigation. J Alt Comp Med (in press).
Vedtofte MS, Jakobsen MU, Lauritzen L, Heitmann BL (2011) Dietary α-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, and n-3 long-chain PUFA and risk of ischemic heart disease. Am J Clin Nutr 94:1097–1103
We acknowledge the assistance of Dustin Dew of Appalachian State University and Tondra Blevins of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for their assistance in this project. We also acknowledge Raymond P. Glahn, Michael A. Rutzke, YongPei Chang, and Mary Bodis from the USDA/ARS at Cornell University for their assistance in the ICP-MS mineral analysis of the milled chia seed supplement. Financial support was provided in part by Chia Farms, Inc. (Orlando, FL, USA).
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare no conflict of interest.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Jin, F., Nieman, D.C., Sha, W. et al. Supplementation of Milled Chia Seeds Increases Plasma ALA and EPA in Postmenopausal Women. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 67, 105–110 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11130-012-0286-0
- Fatty acids
- Chia seed