Basically, omega 3, 6 and 9 are unsaturated fatty acids needed by the body for cell formation and controlling inflammation. You can get these three types of nutrients from plant foods and sea fish meat.
However, these three types of unsaturated fatty acids do not have to be obtained in equal portions at once. Each has a different role and benefits for the body. Also, consuming too much of one of these might put you at risk for certain problems.
Know the various unsaturated fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3s are plural unsaturated fatty acids (polyunsaturated) which the body cannot produce on its own. Omega-3s are further divided based on the types and roles of each, including:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – its function is to produce eicosanoid chemical compounds in the body that play a role in maintaining immunity and controlling inflammation. EPA is also known to help relieve symptoms of depression.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – is one of the main components that make up 8% of the weight of the brain, so this type of fatty acid is indispensable for brain growth and development. DHA is not only needed by children during development but also in the elderly to prevent brain damage such as dementia.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – because it is the simplest form of the three omega-3 fatty acids, ALA can be reconstituted into DHA or EPA, but most of the ALA is used as an energy producer.
In addition to carrying out its function as their respective types of fatty acids, omega-3s are also absorbed by the body cell membranes and have a function in regulating body fat by increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL_, preventing plaque in blood vessels, reducing fat accumulation under the skin and fats stored in the heart.
Unfortunately, modern diets that consume more sugar, carbohydrates and fats contain very little omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 deficiency can accelerate the development of obesity and heart damage. Omega-3s can be obtained from consumption of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines as well as plant-based foods such as chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
Omega-6 fatty acids
Like omega-3s, omega-6 fatty acids are plural unsaturated fatty acids and are also essential fatty acids. In general, omega-6 is used as an energy producer but can also be reformed into arachidonic acid (ARA) to produce eicosanoid chemicals, the same as EPA.
Although essential, most people are not aware that their omega-6 intake tends to be excessive. This is due to the high consumption of cooking oil, fried foods, and mayonnaise. In addition, omega-6 is also found in many nuts such as soybeans, almonds and cashews. Excess omega-6 can disrupt the balance regulation of inflammation in the body. Basically, the need for omega-6 in adults is only a little or about 17 grams for men and 12 grams for women.
Even so, some types of omega-6 are actually safe even if consumed in higher amounts. One of them is omega-6 Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) from Evening Primorse plant oil and borage in supplement form. GLA is absorbed by being converted into dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) which is known to be useful in relieving rheumatic symptoms.
Omega-9 fatty acids
Unlike the two fatty acids above, the body can produce its own omega-9 intake. This is because omega-9 is a non-essential monounsaturated fatty acid. Omega-9 has a major type of fatty acid known as oleic acid which is very easy to obtain from dietary nuts and some animal fats.
Even though it can be produced on its own, the body still needs additional intake of omega-9s, for example to help regulate blood fats very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL). And like other fatty acids, omega-9 also works to reduce inflammation in the body. Oleic acid is also the basis of the nerve sheath covering the brain, which is called myelin.
Most of the omega-9s can be obtained from vegetable foods. There is no recommended intake of omega-9 because these fatty acids are considered non-essential, but there are also no safe limits for consuming foods with omega-9s. Food sources of omega-9 are olive oil, avocado, and refined oils from cashews or almonds.
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