The building blocks of dietary fats are called fatty acids. Fatty acids are further divided into 3 types of main fatty acids: Omega 3s, 6s and 9s. Out of these 3, omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most essential fatty acid as our body cannot synthesize it. We need to continuously provide it through our diet.
The discovery of the importance of omega-3 fatty acids has been understood as one of the most significant health benefits in modern nutrition. Getting the required omega-3 from natural sources was found to be little difficult. The sources of omega-3 fatty acids are Fatty fishes and for vegetarians there are hardly options but few include: flaxseeds, walnuts, soyabeans.
There are mainly three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID (EPA): An important fatty acid for the circulatory system. Abundant in oily fish, algae and grass. EPA has 20 carbon atoms.
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA): An important fatty acid found in eye and brain membranes. It plays an important role for vision and brain function and is vital for healthy heart function. DHA is also found abundantly in oily fish, algae and grass. DHA has 22 carbon atoms.
ALPHA LINOLENIC ACID (ALA): Found abundantly in flax seeds, also found in walnuts and canola oil. To a degree, ALA can be converted into EPA in the body. ALA has 18 carbon atoms.
Significance of Omega-3 benefits for Mental Health:
These fatty acids are considered essential because our body cannot synthesize them. These omega-3 fatty acids are being found to improve your heart health, joint and skin health by controlling inflammation levels.
DHA is one of the nutrients, which is required by the fetus for its developing brain and its requirement continues throughout the life stages. DHA’s protective effects come from these distinct mechanisms:
- DHA affects physical changes in the memory: Brain tissue contains the highest concentration of DHA in the body, which indicates its value for brain function. One of the first studies on rats showed that reduced consumption of DHA led to dramatic changes in brain function like memory, auditory and olfactory responses, learning etc.
- DHA protects brain tissue from inflammatory damage: DHA can be metabolized into Neuroprotectin D1, which is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and thus protecting against oxidation and free radical damage. This way it also heals the brain tissue post-injury.
3.Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids particularly DHA in combination with EPA, taken on a regular basis can also improve your mood. It can also enhance your memory and can protect your brain against disorders which includes depression and dementia.
There’s no doubt that you need omega-3s, but there is a lot of confusion about how to get them from both foods and supplements.
- You can try getting them natural sources like fatty fishes by consuming 3 times a week.
- Or go for the dietary supplements which are providing minimum of 250 mg of DHA and EPA per serving.
- For vegetarians, I would suggest go for the veg. omega-3 supplements to get your daily dose.