In the case of health and supplementation, we often find on products various flavours that contain, for example, omega-3 fatty acids, which indicates that it is a healthy product for us, which we should buy if we care about our body. Is it really so? What are the omega-3 and omega-6 basically?
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. What are they?
In this case, we are talking about two polyunsaturated fatty acids
In the case of omega-3, it may be important that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is not produced in our body so that we need to supplement it in the diet. ALA transforms into the body into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Interestingly, both of these acids can also be found in food. Omega-3 in the case of people with hyperlipidemia may reduce the level of triglycerides and very-low-density lipoproteins.
In the case of omega-6, linolenic acid (LA) is important, which also does not occur in our body naturally and which must be taken along with the diet. It transforms into arachidonic acid (AA). Both AA and EPA are further metabolized to produce hormone-like agents, called eicosanoids like prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes. Eicosanoids are essential for our body because they regulate basic physiological processes as well as:
- cell division and growth
- muscular activity
- secretion of digestive juices and hormones
- distribution of certain substances in our body like calcium
However, AA and EPA lead to the formation of completely different subgroups of eicosanoids that can have opposite effects. In the case of arachidonic acid, eicosanoids are released in our body as a response to injuries, infection, stress or some diseases. In turn, eicosapentaenoic acid can help us in cases of heart disease, asthma and arthritis.
Omega-6 or omega-3?
An interesting fact may be that most people in the United States consume much more omega-6 than omega-3 (as much as 10 times more!). It is generally accepted that the consumption of more omega-3 fatty acids is healthier for us than omega-6, however, there is no fixed proportion that can be introduced into our diet – just the fact is just important.
We find ALA in various vegetables and vegetable oils. EPA and DHA, in turn, in fish and offal. In turn, LA is particularly found in meat. Of course, some of them are also available in the form of a dietary supplement.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will certainly present themselves as quite important for the proper functioning of our body. Their availability in the form of a diet is quite wide, eventually, we can, of course, take advantage of solutions such as dietary supplements. In the next part, I will explain more precisely how fatty acids can affect our health in the case of various diseases.