Much has been said for a long time about the healthy properties of Omega-3 acids, their positive effects on the brain, heart and other organs. However, are all types of Omega-3 acids healthy and Omega-6 not? How do they work, how do they differ, and when is it worth reaching for each of them? We invite you to read about EPA, DHA, ALA and GLA acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. They are called essential fatty acids, because on the one hand they are necessary for maintaining health, but on the other your body cannot produce them on its own (as opposed to e.g. hormones). That's why you need to get them from your diet.
Usually fat is a source of energy and nothing more, however, Omega-3 fatty acids perform many important functions, such as reducing inflammation, supporting cardiovascular health and proper brain function. Deficiency of Omega-3 acids leads to various problems such as lower intelligence, depression, heart disease, arthritis, cancer and more.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a fatty acid. Its main source is fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon and cod liver. EPA acid is used in coronary artery disease, in preventing and treating heart attacks and reducing triglyceride levels. In addition, many studies report its effectiveness in mental illness and disorders such as ADHD, schizophrenia, personality disorders, Alzheimer's disease and depression.
EPAs are also used for problems with normal vision in the elderly (macular degeneration), psoriasis, asthma, cystic fibrosis and diabetes. In people with cancers such as lung cancer or prostate cancer, EPAs help maintain weight and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
In turn, women, using EPA acid, fight menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, reduce pressure during endangered pregnancy, and reduce the risk of delayed development in babies (while taking EPA while still pregnant).
EPA acids together with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) prevent heart disease and reduce arrhythmia. In addition, they help with asthma, cancer, menstrual problems, hay fever, lung disease, lupus and autoimmune kidney disease.
The combination of EPA and DHA is used for migraine headaches in adolescents, skin infections, high cholesterol, hypertension, psoriasis, Behçet's syndrome, Raynaud's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
This most common type of Omega-3 is abundant in plant products. Unfortunately, it is not biologically active, i.e. it has no positive properties until it is converted into EPA or DHA. This process is very inefficient - only 1-10% of Alpha-Linolenic Acid turns into EPA, and only 0.5-5% into DHA.
Moreover, the degree of conversion (this will convert into EPA or DHA as a percentage) depends on many factors, such as levels of copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamins B6 and B7. Modern diet, and in particular vegetarianism, lead to a shortage of these nutrients. The predominance of saturated Omega-6 in a modern diet also negatively affects the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA.
Gamma-linolenic acid is a type of Omega-6 acid, but nevertheless it has a lot of health benefits. It has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for many ailments. For this reason, GLA has gained the name "royal cure for everything." Its main source are evening primrose seeds.
GLA, like EPA and DHA, reduces inflammation. For this reason, it is used in psoriasis, eczema (including atopic dermatitis), rheumatoid arthritis and polyps in the mouth.
It is used as a remedy for high cholesterol, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, nerve problems associated with diabetes, ADHD, depression, postpartum depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and hay fever. It is also used to prevent cancer and increase the therapeutic effect of anti-cancer drugs in the treatment of breast cancer.
By combining EPA, DHA and GLA, you maintain a balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 and you get the full benefits of their health-promoting properties.