Omega-3 Fatty Acids (FA)

This term is used for a group of PUFA also called the “linolenic acid family”. The most important members of this family are:

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA, C 18 :3 omega-3) ALA is most abundant in linseed oil (55-60%). Small amounts of ALA (10-15%) are contained in rape seed oil and walnut oil. Still smaller amounts (< 10%) are found in a variety of other oils of plant origin. ALA is the mother substance of EPA and DHA. According to human studies only 10-15% of the ALA ingested can be converted to EPA and DHA.

EicosaPentaenoic Acid (EPA, C 20:5 omega-3)The main source of  EPA is fish oil. It is an important substance for a number of body functions, because it is a mother substance for the synthesis of the so-called eicosanoids (prostaglandins and leukotrienes). Eicosanoids made from EPA regulate blood pressure and suppress inflammatory and allergic processes in the body. EPA as such regulates lipid metabolism and has anti-arrhythmic potential in the heart .

DocosaHexaenoic Acid (DHA, C 22 : 6 omega-3 ) DHA is highly concentrated in fish oil,but can also be obtained from some marine plants (algae). DHA is found in high concentrations in the human eye and central nervous system. Delivery of DHA to the developing child through maternal blood and the placenta is very important for optimal brain function of the new born. Most likely, a good supply of DHA is also “brain f  ood” later in life ,particularly in the aged. According to recent studies dementia can improve when large amounts of DHA are provided.