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A Guide to Omega Fatty Acids
I'm sure you have heard a lot about omega fatty acids over the years...but what are they and how do they affect your health? Overall the omega 3 group is anti-inflammatory. Make sure to read how inflammation destroys your health if you haven't yet!An Omega fatty acid is an essential fat for our bodies. This means that we cannot produce them on our own, however other fats, our body can; this is why these specific fats are essential. This means that we must get them through our diet.I know the word "fat" is taboo, but in this case it is not something to shy away from. This is really the building blocks of amino acids which are super important for healthy body function.There are many different kinds of fatty acids, but there are three main groups 3, 6, and 9.Each one has a different purpose for our body.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
Omega 3 is a very popular supplement people take. This is because it is rather hard to consume in recommended doses every day. However omega-3 deficiency is extremely rare in the United States but it doesn't hurt to get a bit more than the recommended dose.Omega 3 is actually broken down into three main fatty acids.
- alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) -
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA)
This essential fatty acid is only found in plants, which is at odds to the other acids in the omega-3 group which are found in fish commonly.One of the best ways to get ALA into your diet are flax seeds, but they must be ground to get proper nutrition. Kiwi seeds and walnuts are also great sources.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Docosahexaenoic acid primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, and retina. It is the most common fatty acid in the brain, obviously this means it is quite important. As with everything else on this topic it is an essential fatty acid for human health and we must get it from our diet.This is so essential to our health that DHA deficiency is associated with cognitive decline, meaning your brain functions lower when you don't get the amount of DHA you need.Getting DHA is almost entirely from fish, but fish cannot make it either so they get it from algae. The most plentiful sources of DHA are salmon, mackerel, anchovies, caviar, and herring. You can also find high amounts in the brains of mammals but I wouldn't want to try that...Salmon contains 0.5-1.5g per 100 gram serving, with wild fish having much more than farmed fish. Farmed salmon don't generally eat the algae as their wild cousins and have to be manually supplied it themselves, usually through fish oil supplements (funny enough). This cannot be the best way for us to get Docosahexaenoic acid, thus I only eat wild salmon.I also watched a documentary on farmed fish and if the low levels of artificial DHA don't scare you then the toxins in them will! They have been called the most toxic food on earth, search for it to watch the documentary.
DHA and Vegetarians
Research has shown that levels of DHA in vegetarians have very low amounts; and Vegans have virtually none. This could be a problem for the person, however the bigger issue is for a developing baby, the baby will not be getting enough DHA.Research is also working on deriving DHA supplements from algae which has shown to raise DHA levels in Vegans and Vegetarians but sustainability is an issue.