What Is Omega-3 Fatty Acid, and What Makes It So Important?


What Is Omega-3 Fatty Acid, and What Makes It So Important?

Deep within the cellular structure (chloroplasts) of plankton, green and leafy plants such as grass, and other sources such as walnuts and flaxseeds lie ALA, the “parent” form of a class of essential fatty acids known as omega-3 fatty acids.

The term essential here means that something cannot be manufactured by the body and must be supplied by the diet.

When a grass-eating animal or plankton-eating fish comes along and consumes this substance in plant foods, a series of enzymatic and metabolic conversions take place to transform the ALA into its derivative forms: EPA and DHA.

Herbivores make these conversions quite readily, though they can make only limited amounts of DHA.

Humans make these conversions much less efficiently, and numerous factors may complicate this process.

To initiate this important metabolic conversion, a critical enzyme, known as delta-6 desaturase, must be present.

It is essential to the process of elongation and desaturation into the active derivative forms of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) from ALA.

Once the body has either consumed or manufactured EPA, it can manufacture from this a series of eicosanoids such as series-3 prostaglandins, thromboxane, and leukotrienes.

All are essential to the functioning of the human body as complex hormones that work on the tissue or cellular level.

DHA, another derivative, makes up the highest percentage of the fatty acids in the human brain, facilitating visual and cognitive function, forming neuroreceptors for neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, and serving as a storage molecule that the body can reconvert to EPA if needed later on.

Omega-3 fatty acids also make up a significant portion of all cellular membranes, giving them fluidity and helping facilitate all metabolic and bioelectrical processes.

No one can function optimally without them.

Although they are indispensable for the healthy functioning of the human brain and body, insufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids is a nearly unavoidable problem that is endemic to modern diets and that can result in a complex array of symptoms, which are readily contributing to our current national health care crisis.

Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency may be a contributing or causative factor in the following disorders:

  • dyslexia
  • depression
  • weight gain
  • heart disease
  • allergies
  • arthritis
  • violent tendencies
  • memory problems
  • cancer
  • eczema
  • inflammatory diseases
  • diabetes
  • dry skin
  • dandruff
  • postpartum depression
  • alcoholism
  • Crohn’s disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • cirrhosis of the liver
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • hypoglycemia
  • cravings for carbohydrates and sweets cravings
  • ulcerative colitis
  • scleroderma Sjögren’s syndrome
  • hypertension
  • bipolar disorder
  • irritability
  • soft or brittle nails
  • lowered immunity or frequent infections
  • frequent urination
  • fatigue
  • dry, unmanageable hair
  • excessive thirst
  • dry eyes
  • poor wound healing
  • learning problems
  • alligator skin
  • patches of pale skin
  • cheeks cracked skin on heels or fingertips


About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *