Acids, Bases and Salts

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the important fats that our body needs for various processes but cannot make from scratch. Our body gets omega 3 fatty acids from different types of foods. Foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids are cod liver oil, fish, walnuts, flaxseed oil, vegetable oils, and leafy vegetables. Benefits of omega 3 fatty acids contain the lower risk of cancer, prevention from cardiovascular disease and vital role in the production of hormones that regulate blood clotting, inflammation etc.

Omega 3 fatty acids

                                                                                                 Omega 3 fatty acids

What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Omega−3 fatty acids, also known as Omega-3 oils, omega – 3 fatty acids or n−3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are characterized by the presence of a double bond, three atoms away from the terminal methyl group in their chemical structure. Omega 3 fatty acids are broadly distributed in nature. It is an important constituent of animal lipid metabolism. Omega 3 fatty acids play a vital role in the human diet and in human physiology.

Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acid

The three types of omega−3 fatty acids in human physiology, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant oils, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both commonly found in marine oils. Phytoplankton and Marine algae are primary sources of omega−3 fatty acids.

Common sources of plant oils having alpha-linolenic acid include walnut, edible seeds, clary sage seed oil, algal oil, flaxseed oil, Sacha Inchi oil, Echium oil, and hemp oil. The sources of animal omega − 3 fatty acids i.e., eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid include fish, fish oils, eggs from chickens, squid oils and krill oil.

Mammals are unable to synthesize the essential omega−3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid and can only get it through diet. However, they can use alpha-linolenic acid, when available, to form eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, by making additional double bonds along its carbon chain (desaturation) and extending it (elongation).

Namely, alpha-linolenic acid has 18 carbons and 3 double bonds are in use to make eicosapentaenoic having 20 carbons and 5 double bonds. Later, it is then in use to make docosahexaenoic acid having 22 carbons and 6 double bonds. The ability to make the longer-chain omega−3 fatty acids from alpha-linolenic acid can be impaired in ageing.

Structure of Omega 3 Fatty Acid

The fatty acids have two ends, the carboxylic acid (-COOH) end, which is the beginning of the chain is known as “alpha”, and the methyl \(CH_3\) end, which the tail of the chain called “omega”.

The chemical names of Omega 3 Fatty Acids are Omega-3, Fatty Acids, N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid, Omega-3 Polyunsaturate(s). The molecular formula of Omega 3 Fatty Acid is \(C_{60}H_{92}O_6\). Omega 3 fatty acids have a molecular weight of 909.39 g/mol.

An omega−3 fatty acid is a fatty acid with multiple double bonds, where the first double bond is between the third and fourth carbon atoms from the end of the carbon atom chain. “Short-chain” omega−3 fatty acids have a chain of 18 carbon atoms or less, while “long-chain” omega−3 fatty acids have a chain of 20 or more.

The three omega 3 fatty acids types are alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. These three polyunsaturates of omega 3 fatty acids have either 3, 5, or 6 double bonds in a carbon chain of 18, 20, or 22 carbon atoms, respectively. The most naturally-produced fatty acids, all double bonds are in the cis-configuration. In other words, the two hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double bond and the double bonds are interrupted by methylene bridges \(-CH_2-\) so that there are two single bonds between each pair of adjacent double bonds.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important. This acid gives all sorts of powerful health benefits to the human body and brain. Some benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are given below.

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids can fight depression and anxiety
  2. It improves eye health
  3. The fatty acid promotes brain health during pregnancy and early life
  4. It improves risk factors for heart disease
  5. It can reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  6. Omega-3s can fight inflammation and fight autoimmune diseases
  7. It helps to improve mental disorders
  8. Omega-3 fatty acids can fight age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease
  9. It can reduce asthma in children
  10. Omega-3s helps to reduce fat in the liver

FAQs on Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Question 1: What are the health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids?

Answer: Omega 3 fatty acids are not only incredibly important for our body growth but for the prevention of many diseases as well. There are many shreds of evidence that are available to support that omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in prevention and also for the cure of heart diseases. Its few health benefits are –

  • Intake of omega 3 fatty acids reduces the risk of cancer. Omega 3 fatty acids are even beneficial to people with advanced stages of cancer and cachexia.
  • Lowers the blood pressure of the body, hypertension and stimulate the blood circulation
  • They are effective in lowering inflammation,
  • They are helpful to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
  • Helpful in the physiological growth of the body. Omega 3 fatty acids are also useful in the treatment of autism, ADHD etc.
  • Help in fighting against depression and anxiety.
  • They can improve vision-related problems.
  • Effective against bipolar disorder
  • They are mildly effective against cognitive problems so are useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Omega 3 supplements are effective against asthma attacks in children.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids are effective against metabolic syndrome and autoimmune diseases.
  • They are also useful in the treatment of insomnia.

Question 2: What are the sources of Omega 3 fatty acids?

Answer: Omega-3 Fatty Acids are often of marine origin. Marine algae and phytoplankton are the primary sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Sources of plant oils that contain omega 3 alpha-linolenic acid fatty acids are:

  • Edible seeds
  • Walnut
  • Algal oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Clary sage seed oil
  • Echium oil
  • Sacha Inchi oil
  • Hemp oil

Sources of animal omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid fatty acids are:

  • Egg oil
  • Fish oils
  • Krill oil
  • Squid oils

Question 3: Name the types of Omega 3 Fatty Acid.

Answer: Three types of omega 3 fatty acids are-

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): It is found in marine oils. EPA is a carboxylic acid with a 20-carbon chain and five cis double bonds. The first double bond is attached to the third carbon from the omega end
  • alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): It is found in plants oils.ALA Omega-3fatty acid is an important fatty acid that cannot be produced by the body. It must be acquired through diet. ALA is a carboxylic acid with an 18-carbon chain and three cis double bonds. The first double bond is attached at the third carbon from the methyl end of the fatty acid chain.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): It is found in marine oils.DHA is a carboxylic acid with a 22-carbon chain and six cis double bonds. The first double bond is attached at the third carbon from the omega end. The majority of the omega 3 fatty acids in both the brain (97%) and the retina (93%) are made of DHA.
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