Authored by: Dr. Edmundowicz
In our first post giving you the skinny on fat, I helped you understand and categorize healthy and unhealthy dietary fats. Now that you know which fats and oils are which, let’s dig a little deeper into the importance of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. What makes essential fats essential? Here’s the skinny:
-Fat provides insulation, protection, and cushion for our major organs.
-Fat stores are energy stores.
-Fat is an essential component of cells and cell membranes.
Fat in the Body
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s), are the basic building blocks for the various cells in the body. They play a vital role in maintaining the integrity (or structure) of body tissues. Like vitamins and minerals, EFA’s cannot be made by the body (hence the term “essential”) and must be supplied by the diet.
There are two types of essential fatty acids that form other long-chain fatty acids: linolenic (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). With these two essential fatty acids present in our bodies, we have the ability to produce EPA and DHA internally. However, our bodies are very inefficient at making these, which is where food and supplement sources of EPA and DHA come into play.
These are beneficial fatty acids that support joint health, the circulatory system, heart health, skin health, eye function, brain function, and healthy triglyceride levels. They are found in leafy veggies, seeds, nuts, grains, vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower), and poultry fat. These are the three types of omega 3’s:
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) – an important fatty acid for the circulatory system. Abundant in oily fish (mackerel, salmon, bluefish, mullet, sablefish, menhaden, anchovy, herring lake trout, and sardines).
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) – an important fatty acid found in the eye and brain membranes. It plays an important role for vision and brain function and is vital for healthy heart function. DHA is important for the healthy development of the eye and brain in developing fetuses and newborn babies. DHA is also found in oily fish (mackerel, salmon, bluefish, mullet, sablefish, menhaden, anchovy, herring lake trout, and sardines).
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) – found abundantly in flax seeds, but is also found in walnut and canola oil. To a degree, ALA is converted into EPA in the body.
Omega-6 fatty acids (polyunsaturated)
These fatty acids are commonly found in plant oils and are abundant in the typical American diet. A few omega-6 fatty acids are Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), Linoleic Acid (LA), and Arachidonic Acid (AA). Sources of omega 6 fatty acids include: oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean, walnut, wheat germ) nuts and seeds (butternuts, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybean kernels) and vegetables.
GLA -- commonly found in unsaturated vegetable oils such as evening primrose oil and borage oil. It’s converted by the body to prostaglandins – hormone-like substances that play a role in a wide variety of body functions including maintaining hormonal balance and healthy-looking skin.
The GNC Difference
GNC’s Triple Strength Fish Oil has been purified and manufactured for freshness. Five separate purification processes are used until each batch of fish oil in our products is found to be free of detectable levels of mercury, cadmium, lead and PCBs. We use only the best quality ingredients derived from wild, deep ocean fish.
So what’s the bottom line when it comes to omega 3 & 6 fatty acids? If the Chick-Fil-A cow were here he’d say, “Eat mor fish”. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week. Each serving is 3.5 ounce cooked or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. If you don’t have the time or taste buds for fish, fish oil supplements can help. Many fish oil supplements at GNC are available in a concentrated form too. Regardless, omega fatty acids are a mega win/win.
What questions do you have about fish oil?