Omega 3-6-9 and their lesser-known benefits.

What are fatty acids and which fatty acids does the body need?
Omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids are all important fatty acids that need to be supplemented in the diet. They provide different health benefits. However, the most important thing is to ensure a balance between omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, as an imbalance can lead to certain chronic diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats, a type of fat that the body cannot produce and must be obtained through the diet. There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids based on their chemical structure and size. The three most common types are:

1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): The main function of this 20-carbon fatty acid is to produce chemicals called eicosanoids, which help reduce inflammation. EPA also helps reduce symptoms of depression.

2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): A 22-carbon fatty acid. DHA makes up about 8% of the brain's weight. DHA is essential for the brain development of infants.

3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): This 18-carbon fatty acid can be converted into EPA (0.2%-21%) and DHA (0.05%-9%).

Like omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids are unsaturated fats. Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential, so they need to be supplemented through the diet. Omega-6 in the body is primarily used for energy metabolism. They also have anti-inflammatory properties as they can be converted into eicosanoids. Pro-inflammatory eicosanoids are important compounds in the human immune system that help reduce the inflammation process. However, when provided in excessive amounts, they can increase inflammation and related diseases. The recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1 or lower.

Oleic acid is the most common monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid in the diet. Omega-9 fatty acids are classified as "non-essential" because our bodies can produce them. In fact, omega-9 fatty acids are the most abundant fat in most cells in the body.

OHAWA flaxseed oil contains natural plant-based Omega-3 ALA!

The recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, as specified by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2002, sets targets to prevent essential fatty acid deficiency and ensure adequate absorption throughout life. The IOM established Adequate Intake for ALA based on the average daily consumption of healthy Americans, who are not at risk of nutrient deficiencies. The Adequate Intake is 1.6g of ALA per day for males and 1.1g of ALA per day for females. Pregnant women should consume 1.4g of ALA per day to meet the needs of developing fetuses.

Plant-based Omega-3 in the body:
After being absorbed by the intestines, ALA has several metabolic fates:
1) It can undergo β-oxidation to generate energy: β-oxidation is the process of breaking down the carbon chain or backbone of a fatty acid into smaller pieces, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in exhaled breath and generating energy for work, play, and rest. ALA metabolism significantly contributes to energy production.
2) It can be recycled to produce other fatty acids: Some carbon fragments produced during the β-oxidation of ALA are not oxidized for energy but are recycled into saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
3) It can serve as a substrate for ketogenesis, the process of producing ketone bodies: Recent research in Canada and the United States has proposed a new function for ALA - ALA plays an important role in maintaining brain function during aging, not by converting to omega-3 fatty acid chains but by being used to produce ketone bodies. Although the brain's primary energy source is glucose, it uses ketone bodies as an alternative energy source during fasting or illness. As we age, the brain's ability to absorb glucose decreases, so ketone supplementation is needed to continue providing energy to the brain.
4) It can be stored in adipose tissue for later use: ALA reserves in adipose tissue serve as a storage supply that can be used when the demand for ALA increases.
5) It can be incorporated into cell membrane phospholipids, where it affects membrane activities: Phospholipids are structural components of cells. All human cell membranes contain a bilayer of phospholipids. Phospholipids consist of fatty acids, and the types of fatty acids they contain affect the flexibility of the membrane, the transport of nutrients across the membrane, and how cells communicate with each other. A diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 ALA) increases the polyunsaturated fatty acid content in membrane phospholipids, making them more flexible and responsive.
6) It can be converted into long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Benefits of Omega-3:
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important component of cell membranes. Additionally, they have several other important functions, including:

- Improving heart health: Omega-3 fatty acids can increase the levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. They can also lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and prevent the formation of arterial plaques.
- Supporting mental health: Consuming omega-3 can reduce symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, and mood disorders. It can also reduce the risk of mental disorders in high-risk individuals.
- Weight loss and waist size reduction: Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in weight control and can help reduce waist circumference.
- Liver fat reduction: Adequate omega-3 supplementation in the diet can help reduce liver fat.
- Supporting infant brain development: Omega-3 is crucial for the brain development of infants.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammatory reactions that can cause chronic diseases in the body.
- Preventing memory loss: Omega-3 also helps improve memory in older adults.
- Enhancing bone health: Individuals with a high intake of omega-3 have better bone mineral density.
- Preventing asthma: Omega-3 supplementation can help reduce symptoms of asthma, especially in early life. Western diets often lack sufficient omega-3, which may be a reason for chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and high cardiovascular risk in these countries.