The Importance of Omega-3s: Fact or Fad?
There is a lot of talk about Omega-3 fatty acids these days, but is their importance to human health a fact or fad? Well, not only is their importance a fact, it is essential! There is growing evidence to support the role these nutrients play in cardiovascular health, inflammation, neurological development and cancer prevention; therefore, understanding the basics of Omega-3 fatty acids could make all the diference in improving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a specific group of polyunsaturated fats that include any fatty acid with the first double bond located on the third carbon of the fatty acid chain from the methyl end. There are a wide range of these fatty acids; however, the main Omega-3s that are of particular interest to human health include:
- α-linolenic acid (ALA;C18:3 n-3)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; C20:5 n-3)
- docasahexaenoic acid ( DHA; C22:6 n-3)
Of these Omega-3 fatty acids, only ALA is classified as an "essential" nutrient (1). In other words, ALA is necessary for proper physiological and metabolic activities; however, unlike EPA and DHA, the body cannot produce it from existing precursors so it must come from the diet itself. The biological roles of ALA have particular importance in mediating inflammatory responses and has been suggested to partially protect against rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and heat disease (2). Additional research has suggested that ALA may help in the prevention of neurological conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (3). Additionally, the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA also acts as the major precursor for the synthesis of EPA and DHA in the human body. These fatty acids are most commonly associated with brain and vision health while also demonstrating anti-inflammatory properties (4).
Omega-6 fatty acids are another class of polyunsaturated fatty acids with linoleic acid (LA; C18:2 n-6) containing the same "essential" classification as ALA. Unlike the Omega-3 family of fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids are more commonly associated with inflammatory responses (5). Currently, the global dietary trends are seeing an imbalance in these fatty acids and beleive an over consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids compared to Omega-3 fatty acids may be a major contributor to the increased rates of chroic inflammatory diseases such as type 2 diabeties, cancer, and obesity (6). Based on this evidence, more dieticians and nutritional scientists are encouraging consumers to increase consumption of their Omega-3 fatty acids to improve the dietary balance of fats. However, it can be difficult for consumers to source natural and sustainable options.
At O&T Farms we understand the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, especially ALA, for both humans and animals alike. That is why, with out linPRO brand livestock feeding program, we are brining an all natural, sustainable opportunity that offers significant benefits to the livestock and to the consumers looking to enrich their healthy lifestyle. The linPRO product line offers unique opportunity to optimize the health of the animal through natural, land-based Omega-3 fatty acids while simultaneously enriching the the eggs, milk and meat produceed by these animals. By improving the balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty aicds in the food produced by our livestock, consumers don't have to make drastic and difficult changes to their diet; instead, they simply need to choose the option with the "Raised Omega Right" label.
- Burr, G.O., and M.M. Burr. 1930. On the nature and role of the fatty acids essential in nutrition. J. Biol. Chem. 86:587 – 621.
- Stark, A.H., M. Crawford, and R. Reifen. 2008. Update on alpha-linolenic acid. Nutri. Rev. 66: 326-332.
- Joshi, K. S. Lad, M. Kale, B. Patwardhan, S. P. Mahadik, B. Patni, A. Chaudhary, S. Bhave, and A. Pandit. 2006. Supplementation with flax oil and vitamin C improves the outcome of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Prostaglandins Leukot. Essent. Fatty Acids. 74:17–21.
- Calder, P.C. 2015. Marine omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: effects, mechanisms and clinical relevance. Biochim. Biophys. Acta.1851:469-484.
- Simopoulous, A.P. 2006. Evolutional aspects of diet, the omega-6/omega-3 ration and genetic variation: nutritional implications for chronic diseases. Biomed. Pharmacother. 60: 502-507.
- Cardoso Carraro, J.C., M.I.D. Dantas, A.C.R. Espeschit, H.S.D. Martino and S.M.R. Ribeiro. 2012. Flaxseed and human health: reviewing benefits and adverse effects. Food Rev. Int. 8:203-230.