Fat is very important for the body and all types of fat have a role to play in good health. During digestion, the body breaks down dietary fat into essential fatty acids (EFA’s) which are then absorbed into the blood. EFAs are “good” fats that are required for the structure and function of every cell in the body.
Omega-3 and omega-6 are two of the most important fatty acids from a health perspective. In a healthy diet, consumption of omega-3 should be higher than omega-6. Too much of the latter can be inflammatory, which can be a factor in the development of chronic diseases.* Omega-3 and omega-6 come in dietary supplements that can be separate or in a blend together.
The body can make many fatty acids; however, the two types it cannot produce are linoleic acid (LA), also known as omega-6 fatty acids, and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), also known as omega-3 fatty acids. ALA can be further converted into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Since the body cannot produce these fatty acids, they need to be consumed through diet and supplementation. A diet that contains a good amount of healthy fats may mean there is no need for extra supplementation.
|Dietary Sources of Essential Fatty Acids|
|Linoleic Acid (LA) (Omega-6)||Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, and pumpkin seeds|
|Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA) (Omega-3)||Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and brussel sprouts|
|EPA and DHA||Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel|
Deficiency of EFAs may occur when sufficient amounts of LA and ALA are not consumed from dietary sources. Deficiency of EFAs has been associated with many serious health implications such as heart disease, poor brain growth in children, neurological disease, visual problems, inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, anemia, and endocrine deficits.*
|Positives of EFAs in the Body|
Omega 3 is a type of healthy fat that may have numerous benefits for the brain and heart.* A small amount of EPA can be created from ALA rich foods and it can also be supplemented through foods that are rich in EPA.
Omega 3 fatty acids support heart health*. (7) They may be beneficial in reducing blood pressure, lowering triglycerides (a fat that is released into the bloodstream), reducing the potential for blood clots and improving circulation.* (8)
DHA supports the neurological and visual development of children.* (9)
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation and stiffness of joints in arthritis patients.* (10)
Omega-6 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. The most common type of omega-6 is Linoleic Acid (LA), which can be converted into arachidonic acid (ARA). ARA is used to produce eicosanoids which are important for the immune system.* (11)
LA supplements have shown positive results in supporting breast cancer patients.* (15)
Omega blends are a way of supplementing essential fatty acids, especially for people who do not consume a lot of them in their diet. They often contain additional nutrients that may improve absorption to provide better efficacy.
Normally, a western diet contains more omega-6 than necessary, particularly in relation to omega 3. Due to the role of essential fatty acids in good health, supplements are becoming a popular way to consume adequate levels of both types of fatty acids.
Supplements of EFAs are widely available in the form of capsules. Some of the oils rich in essential fatty acids are:
You should always consult your health care provider before starting any herbal supplements or products. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.