Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that are considered essential to our health due to their many benefits. But not all Omega-3 fatty acids have the same importance on our health. Among 11 types of Omega-3s, there are 3 types that are the most important to us. These are: ALA, EPA and DHA.
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
First, let’s have a look at what Omega-3 fatty acids actually are. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is good for our health. Our bodies cannot make these fats by themselves so we must get them from the food that we eat and/or from supplements.
Omega-3s play very important roles in our body and can help support our heart health, brain function and they have also been found to reduce inflammation. Having an Omega-3 deficiency may lead to health problems including depression, heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
ALA: Alpha-Linolenic Acid
The first of the 3 most important Omega-3 fatty acids is ALA which stands for Alpha-Linolenic Acid. ALA is mostly found in plant foods and must be converted in our body into EPA or DHA to be used for something other than energy.
The problem is that this process of converting ALA into EPA or DHA is inefficient and only a small percentage of ALA is actually converted into EPA and an even smaller percentage into DHA. This means that ALA that is not converted into EPA or DHA is just stored and used in our body for energy.
Many plant foods contain ALA including:
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
EPA: Eicosepentaenoic Acid
The second of the 3 most important Omega-3 fatty acids is EPA which stands for Eicosapentaenoic Acid. EPA is mostly found in seafood such as fatty fish. EPA is used by our body for many physiological roles and can help reduce symptoms of depression as well as help fight inflammation in our body. That’s why many studies have found that taking a fish oil supplement may help your heart and brain health! If you are looking for a fish oil supplement, click here.
DHA: Docosahexaenoic Acid
The last of the 3 most important Omega-3 fatty acids is DHA which stands for Docosahexaenoic Acid. DHA is mostly found in seafood such as fatty fish, just like EPA. It is essential that we get enough DHA because DHA makes up our skin and the retinas which are the thin layer of tissue at the back of our eyes and is vital for our brain function. Studies have shown that DHA may have positive effects on high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and arthritis and may help boost heart health through reducing triglyceride levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
DHA is also very important during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in infants since it is vital for brain development and function.
Which is the best Omega-3 Fatty Acid?
The most important Omega-3s are EPA and DHA and they are important at all stages of our life, from pregnancy, to early infancy and continue to be just as important in adulthood. EPA and DHA are the most important and these can be found in seafood such as fatty fish and in fish oil supplements such as this one.
Be an Informed Consumer
It is important to always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
Article Source: Healthline (The 3 Most Important Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids)