Essential Fatty Acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6

What is Fats:

Fats store energy and keep the body warm and provide energy like carbohydrates. Fats are especially beneficial in making the body soft and the bones strong. Oxidation of fats does not happen without sugar properly and continues to burn which causes a feeling of tiredness in the body. To digest fats, the liver, pancreas, and small intestines must remain healthy for which deep breathing in the open air is necessary. Excess of fat creates many diseases and its deficiency is compensated by the body from other foods.

To activate fats in food, the presence of iodine is essential or else thyroid glands get damaged leading to goiter.

Types of Fats

Fat is of many forms but mainly it is divided into two parts.

1.  Derived from Vanaspati – 

This is available in all kinds of oils, sesame(til), mustard, olive(jaitoon), sunflower, groundnut, linseed (alsi) and dry fruits (coconut, almonds, cashew nut, and chilgoza, etc.).

2.  Derived from Animals – 

Milk and milk products. The best quality fats are available in a goat’s milk than cows milk and thirdly it is buffaloes milk.

What are Fatty acids?

Natural components of fats and oils are called fatty acids. Based on their chemical structure, It is divided into two groups i.e. Saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids can also be further divided into two groups – Mono-unsaturated fatty acids and Poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

It consists of a chain of carbon atoms, with a methyl group at one end and an acid group at the other end. Each carbon atom has associated with hydrogen atoms with a single bond that is called saturated fatty acids.

While in unsaturated fatty acids, some of the hydrogen atoms are missing and have been replaced with double bonds between the carbon atoms. This type of double bond is available in one place. That is called mono-unsaturated fatty acids and a double bond between the carbons atoms is more than one place that is called poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

The Omega-3 and Omega-6 both are polyunsaturated fatty acids. The difference is in where the first double bond of carbons occurs at third carbon positions then it is called omega-3 fatty acids, but the first double bond of carbons occurs on the sixth carbon positions then it is called omega-6 fatty acids, counting from the methyl end.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 both are essential fatty acids because our body can’t generate these fatty acids. We have to take from our food only. In humans, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA) is the primary essential fatty acids. Other required fatty acids can be synthesized by the body except Omega 3 and Omega 6.

What are the sources of fatty acids?

1.  Saturated fatty acids – 

It is mainly found in animal foods, such as fatty meat, sausage, butter, and cheese. It is also called non-essential fatty acids because our body can generate saturated fatty acids if required.

2.  Mono-unsaturated and Poly-unsaturated fatty acids – 

It is found in plants, seeds, and fatty fish origin. Foods containing unsaturated fatty acids include avocado, nuts, vegetable oils i.e. corn, soy, algal-oil, etc. and fatty oily fish herring, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and sardines, etc. Meat products contain both saturated and unsaturated fats.

Functions of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Omega-6 Fatty Acids in the body (i.e. Health Benefits of Omega 3 & Omega 6 Fatty Acids):

Fatty acids Omega-3 and omega-6 are important components of cell membranes and are precursors to many other substances in the body such as those involved in regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses. There is increasing support for omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against fatal heart disease and it is also known that they have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetes, and certain types of anti-cancer effects. Omega 3 also plays a role to prevent and cure many other diseases.

Non-essential fatty acids are being produced by the human body if needed, except for two: linoleic acid (LA) i.e. omega-6, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) i.e. omega-3. These fatty acids have to be consumed from the diet and called  “essential fatty acids”. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are needed for growth and repair but can also be used to make other fatty acids. For example, omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be synthesized from ALA. However, as the conversion is poor, it is recommended that sources of these are also included in the diet. Alpha-linolenic acid and Linoleic acid are found in seed oils. Although, the levels of LA are to be usually found much higher than ALA. Flaxseed oil and walnut oil are very good sources of ALA but conversion to EPA and DHA are very poor. The human body required Omega 3 in the form of EPA and DHA. That’s why leads to EPA and DHA deficiency which is the root cause of so many diseases. To fulfill this requirement to consume EPA and DHA from cold-water oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, anchovies, arctic char and trout, herring,

Linoleic acid (LA) is the parent fatty acid of the omega-6 series. LA can also be obtained from animal sources, such as meat and egg yolk in sufficient quantity. The omega-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, arachidonic acid (AA), can be synthesized from LA.

Health Benefits of EPA/Functions of EPA (EicosaPentaenoicAcids) are –

1.  Maintain normal blood pressure.

2.  Maintain normal blood triglyceride levels.

3.  Maintain the normal function of the heart.

4.  Managing oil production and hydration of the skin.

5.  Reducing premature aging of your skin and the risk of acne.

Health Benefits of DHA/Functions of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are –

1.  Maintain normal blood triglyceride levels.

2.  Maintain normal brain function.

3.  Maintain normal vision.

4.  It is a structural component of the skin. So, maintain a good quality of skin i.e. soft, moist, and wrinkle-free.

Note:  Yuvaan Nature Foundation provides the knowledge about the nutrition to the people so that people can take health benefits in their life. Fatty acids are also part of nutrition which is very important especially essential fatty acids like Omega 3 and Omega 6. Fatty acids are being used for energy,  strong bones, good for joints health and keep the body soft & warm.


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