Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory nutrients that human body needs but cannot produce, they are polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are fats but not the type that carries cholesterol, rather they play a role in immune signaling; they are either Omega-3 fatty acids and produce anti-inflammatory signals or Omega-6 fatty acids, which produce pro-inflammatory signals.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids constitute the whole family of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The term Omega denotes the end and the numbers 3 or 6 denote where the first unsaturated fat (in the chemical composition of these fat) starts.
Not to get very technical but fats are carbon and hydrogen, which are connected in a linear format: Carbon (C) to carbon to carbon with hydrogen (H) above and below. In a simple way they are as follows
H H H – - – -
C-C-C- – - – -
H H H - – - -
The above is a saturated fat because the carbons to carbons has only one arm “C-C” and all have hydrogen above an below each Carbon.
Polyunsaturated fats have a different structure, which in a simple format is as follows:
H H H H H H H
H H H
When two carbons join two arms (=), then, a hydrogen (H) will have to disappear and that location is unsaturated, since it is not fully saturated with hydrogens.
If the unsaturation is only one, then it is called mono-unsaturated. If it is two or more, then it is called polyunsaturated fat.
The most left hand carbon is the end carbon or Omega carbon. The site of first unsaturated bond (=) denotes the type of polyunsaturated.
If the first C=C starts at the third carbon, they are the polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids. However, if the first C=C starts at the sixth carbon, then, they would be called polyunsaturated fatty acids of Omega-6.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids produce pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules, respectively.
What is Omega-3 Good For
While Omega-3 fatty acids improve some health conditions, when there is an issue of chronic inflammation, but they are not a medicine, rather they are essential nutrients.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are the general term for polyunsaturated fats. Omega-6 starts with Linoleic Acid and ends with Arachidonic Acid (AA), whereas Omega-3 starts with Alpha-Linolenic Acid and ends with Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) / Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, while Omega-6 has pro-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation is an immune mechanism; it is a signal that calls the immune cells into action. Without inflammation, there would be no immune response.
The function of immune system is to destroy what does not belong inside the body. However, in destroying the invaders, the immune system also destroys the cells around the invaders.
Once the immune system eliminates a threat, then repairs will begin for the damaged cells.
While inflammation starts the immune responses but if it does not subside, then the immune cells will continue their destructions without a necessity.
Inflammation is classified as acute (clinical), sub-clinical or chronic.
Acute or clinical inflammation refres to signals that bring immune cells to any location in the body, where there is an invader or a threat. Once the threat is eliminated, the inflammation (signals) also stops. In this form, inflammation protects the body.
Subclinical inflammation is low-grade inflammation that lingers-on. This form indicates a dysregulated inflammation status and, low-grade inflammation, has been implicated in diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Chronic inflammation is when excessive inflammation (signals) exist. This form is also a dysregulated (out of control) and the immune system will start to harm the body. Chronic inflammation becomes a degenerative cause in most, if not all, diseases.
The cellular membrane ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids determine the intensity and the duration of inflammation (Immune attack). The ideal ratio should be 1:1 but due to lack of green leafy vegetables and cold-water fishes, in our diet, the ratio tilts toward Omega-6.
Omega-6 promotes the inflammation, while Omega-3 fatty acids resolve it. In another word, one starts and the other ends it.
Since most diets lack cold-water fishes, the body will compensate the deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids by taking more of Omega-6 and that tilts the homeostasis of the immune system.
Supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids not only helps in restoring the homeostasis of the inflammation but also in the protection of nervous system and cardiovascular system.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids of EPA and DHA produce molecules called Resolvins.
Eicosapentaenoic fatty acids (EPA) produce Resolvin-E and Docosahexaenoic fatty acids (DHA) produce Resolvin-D.
Resolvin-D resolves inflammation in the brain, nervous system and eyes and Resolvin-E resolve inflammation mainly in cardiovascular system.
Together Resolvin-D and Resolvin-E help to resolve inflammation in all other organs.
Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) also moderate stress, as well as producing molecules (NP D-1) that protect neurons from pre-mature death.
Proper dietary intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids results in better homeostasis of the immune system. The equilibrium of immune system results in elimination of threats without extensive or sustained damage to the surrounding cells.
Omega-6 is found most food (especially in red meat and seeds) and if our diet does not include sufficient green leafy vegetables and cold-water fishes (the richest source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids), then body will have deficiency of Omega-3 and that means intense and prolonged immune responses and unnecessary destruction of healthy cells.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Adequate Intake (AI) recommendation from the Food and Nutrition Board of The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) stands at 1.1 to 1.6 g/d (gram per day) for Women and Men, respectively, in order to prevent its deficiency and/or promote health. The IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which works outside of government to examine the US nutritional well-being, establishes the Adequate Intake (AI) of nutrients, as well as providing guidance about the application of nutrition and food sciences to improve human health.
The nervous system, brain and the eyes utilize Docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA), whereas the Eicosapentaenoic fatty acids (EPA) are mainly utilized for the cardiovascular system. In formulating our product, we gave the same importance to the brain, nervous system and eyes as the cardiovascular system: 50% EPA – 50% DHA. (Please visit our Omega-3 product page)
Omega-3 fatty acids are good nutrients because they confer anti-inflammatory and protective properties. Excessive inflammation is not beneficial to your health.
For almost 40 years, the scientific community has been researching the benefits of anti-inflammatory diets, more specifically diets containing Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as its adequate intake, and we have complied some of those studies and our reply thereto. We have listed few of those below and invite you to vist our News Archive for additional Press Releases.
These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any diseases.