Fatty acids, found in high concentrations in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna have been proven to support and promote several health benefits. The health benefits of the Omega 3, 6 and 9 groups of fatty acids all contain essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and support several bodily functions while warding off several types of life threatening and debilitating diseases.
The difference in the three types of EFA’s, Omega 3, 6, and 9, can be defined by the location of the first double bond from the methyl end, or the Omega end, of the carbon chain. Hence, the Omega 3 fatty acids first double bond is located at the 3rd position from the end of the carbon chain. The Omega 6 fatty acids first double bond is located at the 6th position from the end of the carbon chain and Omega 9 fatty acids first double bond is located at the 9th position from the end of the carbon chain.
The Various Types of Fatty Acids within Omega Fish Oils
There are several types of fatty acids within each of the Omega types (i.e. Omega 3, 6, and 9). Each of the types of fatty acids support different bodily functions and promote different aspects of good health and mental well being. Below is a list of the types of fatty acids that are present in each of the types of Omegas.
- Alpha Linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Linolenic acid (LA)
- Gamma Linolenic acid (GLA)
- Dihomogamma Linolenic acid (DLA)
- Arachidonic acid (AA)
- Oleic acid (OA)
- Stearic acid (SA)
When discussing Omega 3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids it is important to understand that the Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFA’s are not produced by the human body and therefore, must be obtained through our daily dietary intake. On the other hand, Omega 9, or monounsaturated oleic and stearic acid, is naturally produced within the human body.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids play a key role in several bodily functions and are essential for good health and wellness. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet, rich in fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines should be consumed at least twice a week.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two most important types of fatty acids within the Omega 3 family. In addition, EPA and DHA fatty acids are only found in oily fish and/or fish oil supplements. While DHA fatty acids are important for women that are pregnant, mothers that are nursing, and for the healthy development of the brain and vision in young children, EPA fatty acids are considered the most important fatty acid for the rest of the population as they they play an important role in the efficient functionality of the brain and the body at a cellular level.
The Omega 3 group of fatty acids ‘s provide anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant properties, reduce inflammation, and help guard against arthritis, cardiovascular disease, skin conditions, mental depression, and several other mental mood related disorders. Below is a more comprehensive list of several of the additional health related benefits that the Omega 3 group of fatty acids play a role in.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Attention Disorders
- High Blood Pressure
- Macular Degeneration
As previously mentioned, Omega 3 fatty acids must be ingested through dietary intake and are not manufactured or produced by the body. To this end, below is a list of common food sources that contain adequate levels of the Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Canola Oil (Rapeseed)
- Flaxseeds or Flaxseed Oil
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Hempseed Oil
- Mustard Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Raw Walnuts & Walnut Oil
- Wheat Germ Oil
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
While the Omega 6 family of fatty acids are typically considered pro-inflammatory, GLA, when consumed, display anti-inflammatory properties and characteristics. Omega 6 fatty acids also assist in reducing the symptoms and effects of bloating and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). In addition, Omega 6 fatty acids also assist in promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails and help to stabilize hormonal and emotional imbalances.
Similar to Omega 3, Omega 6 fatty acids must be consumed through dietary intake and are not produced or manufactured by the human body. Below is a list of food sources that contain reasonable levels of Omega 6 fatty acids.
- Cottonseed oil
- Dairy products
- Hempseed Oil
- Peanut oil
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Rice bran oil
- Safflower oil
- Sesame Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
Combined, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids interact with one another so the balance between the two is vital to good health and wellness. Together Omega 3 and Omega 6 assist in the production of hormonal related messengers defined as eicosanoids. This, in turn, helps to regulate inflammation within the body and virtually all bodily functions at the cellular level. A reasonable ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 3 or 4 to 1.
Omega 9 Fatty Acids
Omega 9, or monounsaturated oleic and stearic acid, is naturally produced within the body. Omega 9 fatty acids have been proven to help prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and to assist in promoting healthy immune system functionality.
Additional Omega 9 health and wellness benefits include several preventative qualities that act to support various bodily functions. For example, Oleic acid, assists in reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Borage oil contains Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids, in the form of Gamma linolenic acid and Oleic acid, and is an excellent source of GLA.
Omega 9 fatty acids are manufactured within the body from Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. For this reason, if adequate amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are regularly consumed, adequate levels of Omega 9 fatty acids will be produced within the body. However, below is a list of several foods that contain Omega 9 fatty acids.
- Black Olives
- Macadamia Nuts
- Olive Oil
As is evident, Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids play an important role in maintaining good health and mental wellness and balance. In addition, Omega fatty acids perform several vital bodily functions and aide in warding off several types of chronic, debilitating, and fatal diseases. For this reason, consuming healthy well balanced whole foods that are high in Omega fatty acids are imperative to good health and wellness.
For individuals that find it difficult to regularly consume a highly nutritional diet, fish oil supplements are readily available and can be purchased through several on-line nutritional websites and at your local nutritional retail outlet. In addition, it is important to remember that Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are not produced within the body, and while Omega 9 is produced within the body, it is produced from the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that were consumed through your diet. This being said, regularly consuming foods that are high in fatty acids or appending your diet with fish oil supplements are imperative to ensuring good health, fitness, and mental well being.