Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) that can be found in Plant Oils (Vegetable Oils) and Marine Oils (Fish Oils). The PUFA carbon chain has its first double bond three carbons from the beginning.
Omega 3 fatty acids (n-3 fatty acids) have 2 ends:
- The Acid End
- The Methyl End (also known as the omega end)
Located between the 3rd and 4th carbon atom it is the first double bond, counting from the methyl end.
It is an essential fatty acid that the human body is unable to synthesize yet it is extremely vital for normal metabolism. It can be obtained mainly from dietary and supplementary sources.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Food Source.
Cold-water fish and Fish Oils:
Mercury free Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Herring and Trout fish, Algal Oil, Squid Oil and Fish Oil from Oily fish tissues.
Plant Oils or Vegetable Oils:
Spirulina, Grains, Mustard Seeds, Flaxseeds or Linseeds, Brazil Nuts, Raw Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Soybean, Cabbage, Broccoli, Winter Squash, Kidney Beans, Olive Oil, Echium Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Hempseed Oil, Canola Oil (Rapeseed), Chia Seed Oil, Walnut Oil and Green Leafy Vegetables.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Alpha Linolenic Acid Metabolic Pathway.
- Stearidonic Acid is converted from Alpha-linolenic Acid by the enzyme Delta 6 Desaturase.
- The enzyme Delta 6 Desaturase depends on Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 to function properly.
- The enzyme elongase helps the transformation of Eicosatetraenoic Acid from Stearidonic Acid.
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid is converted from Eicosatetraenoic Acid by the enzyme Delta 5 Desaturase.
- The enzyme Delta 5 Desaturase needs niacin, zinc and Vitamin C to function properly.
- Eicosapentaneoic Acid (EPA).
- EPA is converted into anti-inflammatory Leukotrienes by the enzyme Lipoxygenase.
- EPA is converted into anti-inflammatory Prostaglandins (series 3 prostaglandins) by the enzyme Cyclo Oxygenase.
Docosapentaenoic Acid (DPA) is initially converted from Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) by the enzyme elongase and is then converted to Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) by the enzyme Delta 4 Dehydorgenase.
- Health and Lifestyle influences can hinder the conversion process.
- Diet high in linoleic acid (LA) can inhibit conversion by as much as 40% Trans Fatty Acids and Saturated fat inhibits ALA elongation and Desaturation.
- ALA conversion to EPA and DHA is inhibited by Enthanol
- The deficiency of mineral co-factors and vitamins (Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin C, B3, B6) that are needed by Delta 6 Desaturates and Elongase may inhibit the conversions to EPA and DHA.
- Loss of Delta 6 Desaturates activity that occurs during normal ageing
- Certain health conditions such as diabetes and drugs inhibit Delta 6 saturate and prevents conversion to EPA and DHA
- A high maternal intake of LA inhibits conversion to EPA AND DHA and reduces the omega 3 availability to the developing foetus
- A diet with Alpha Linolenic Acid and an increased ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids may affect the neuronal DHA levels in infants
- n−3 fatty acids help build and maintain good health, however, the average diet in western societies have an omega 3 deficiency, an excessive amount of omega 6 fatty acids and an omega 6 (LA) to omega 3 (EPA and DHA) ratio of up to 30:1. Therefore, it could amount to as little as 1.6 grams per day ( with up to 0.2 grams from EPA and DHA and 1.4 grams from ALA).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Skin Health:
Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are very important and essential for healthy hair, nails and skin. EPA regulates the oil production in the skin. It also helps keep the skin hydrated and free from dry, scaly and flaking skin.
Omega 3 fatty acids are good for the scalp. If there is a deficiency in these nutrients the scalp can start to get dry, itchy and flaky with brittle hair that can lose its luster.
The fatty acids can also help protect the skin from sunlight damage. It can relieve skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema.
The fatty acid can also be used on dogs or cats. Omega 3 fatty acids are often given to pets to improve the health of the skin and coat.