Omega 3 Main Function, Sources and Benefits (ALA, EPA, DHA)

Omega 3

Omega 3 belongs to the group of Polyunsaturated fats. So Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). All PUFAs contain double bonds which make them more flexible, interactive, delicate and susceptible to damage. Position of double bond in Omega 3s is unique and not found in other fats.

There are 3 types of Omega 3

  • ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
  • EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
  • DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)

ALA is the simplest type of Omega 3 with minimum number of double bonds. EPA contain 5 double bonds and DHA contain 6 double bonds. Our body can not generate ALA from scratch. But our body can generate EPA and DHA from ALA. Various researches have shown that EPA and DHA can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.

Effect of Omega 6 on Omega 3

If we eat more Omega 6 then it reduces the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. So a healthy ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 i.e. 4:1 should be maintained. Now a days this ratio in US diet has gone to a dangerous level of 10:1 to 20:1 thus increase the chances of heart diseases.

Omega 6 vs Omega 3: Read More

How to make ALA to EPA/DHA conversion better ?

Our body needs certain nutrients to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. These nutrients are vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and minerals Zinc and Magnesium . If these nutrient s not taken in enough amount then we can’t get the optimal ALA to EPA/DHA conversion.

Omega 3 Main Sources

Food Rich in ALA Omega 3

  • Dairy products such as Cheese, Milk, Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseeds , walnuts
  • fruits (strawberries and, raspberries)
  • Fish (scallops, shrimp, and cod)
  • Sardines and salmon
  • Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mustard seeds, collard and turnip greens, spinach, kale, green beans, romaine lettuce, summer squash and winter squash
  • Legumes and foods made from legumes (soybeans, tofu, and miso)

Food Rich in EPA/DHA Omega 3

EPA/DHA Omega 3 can be obtained from Eggs, Cheese, Milk and Yogurt especially when obtained from grass-fed animals. Meat of grass-fed animals, Fish and sea plants are also rich EPA/DHA. Some land plants when fermented with certain fungi also become rich in EPA/DPA Omega 3.

Omega 3 Benefits for Human Body

Importance of ALA Omega 3 in our Body

85% of total ALA consumed by our body is used as energy. ALA not only provide energy to cells but also get converted in EPA and DHA for various other functions which are atated below.

Importance of EPA Omega 3 in our Body

Prostaglandings (also known as messaging molecules) are directly made from EPA. These massaging molecules make anti-inflammatory effect for proper functioning of our inflammatory system. Thus EPA saves us from cardiovascular diseases and work for proper functioning of our heart.

Importance of DHA Omega 3 in our Body

Our body need DHA for proper functioning of our Brain. Our brain is 60% fat and 15 to 20% of that fat comes from DHA. Thus 9 to 12% of our brain is DHA. Some research have shown slower neurological development in children with lower level of DHA.
Some diseases connected to lower level of DHA are:
  • Parkinson's disease (Neurodegenerative disease)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Reduced reasoning ability in children

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