An introduction to omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that cannot be made in the body and therefore must be obtained from the diet.

EPA-structure

The three major types of dietary omega-3s are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20 carbon atoms, 5 double bonds) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22 carbon atoms, 6 double bonds).

Because fish oil contains substantial amounts of EPA and DHA, it is commonly consumed as a dietary supplement for good health.  In fact, EPA and DHA are primarily responsible for the clinical effects of fish oil consumption.

Extensive clinical and epidemiological research has revealed numerous health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. These include cardiovascular disease prevention, inflammation reduction and alleviation of rheumatoid arthritis.

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