3 Important Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients required for your body to keep you healthy. It also provides you with many other health benefits. 

There are three important omega-3 fatty acids that you can get through food and supplements. So, what are the names of the types? And from where can you get them? Also, why are these three types the most important ones?

To know the answers to all your questions, read the whole article! This article will cover all your doubts and deeply discuss the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids.


What are the three important Omega-3 fatty acid types?

Your body cannot make Omega fatty acids on its own. Therefore, you need to provide it through food. Now, why are these acids essential? Because it helps prevent heart diseases, strokes, cancer, eczema, and many other chronic diseases caused by blood clots, relaxation or contraction of artery walls, and inflammation.

And the three main types of Omega-3 fatty acids, namely, ALA, EPA, DHA, do different work to keep you healthy. So, let us dive deeper into all the three Omega acids to know their benefits, their work in our body, and in what food or supplements you can find them.


ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid)

ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid)

Alpha-linolenic acid is a plant-based type of Omega-3 fatty acid. To gain enough ALA in your body, you can eat nuts like walnuts and vegetable oils like flaxseed, canola, perilla, walnut, and soybean oils.

It is also present in red meat, yeast, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and dairy products. The best time to consume these products having ALA is an empty stomach. You can have around 300 to 600 mg of it in a day. And a high dose of it can cause mortality. 

You can also switch to ALA supplements available in the market that are high in antioxidants to fulfill the needs only if food products are not providing you with enough ALA.


How does ALA work in your body?

Alpha-linolenic acid is a potent antioxidant. It helps you with digestion, creation, and absorption of energy by converting nutrients in the food you eat into energy. And your body produces some of it naturally in mitochondria, but you need to boost it up through your diet by including the food items mentioned above.  


What benefits does Alpha-linolenic acid provide your body?

Deficiency in ALA can cause neurological and cardiological disorders. Therefore, consume the required amount of ALA every day and enjoy its benefits. Let us see what their benefits are!

  • Help lose weight
  • Improve cholesterol levels
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce oxidative stress preventing heart diseases
  • Improve brain health
  • Reduce the risk of pneumonia

ALA is also used as creams, mainly for children upto 12 years old. In some, it may cause rashes, and on consuming also, some may see the side effects like headache, heartburn, vomiting, or nausea.


EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)

Eicosapentaenoic acid is one of the major Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish like salmon and tuna. It is not already present in your body. So, you require them to stay healthy, especially to keep your heart healthy. 

To fulfill the requirements of EPA in your body, you can include salmon, tuna, mackerel, shellfish, herring, and sardines in your daily diet. In a day, you can have around 250 mg of EPA. But, a high dose of it can cause blood-thinning, leading to many chronic health issues. 

You can also replace fish with fish oil and consume it at any time. But, having EPA with a meal is more beneficial as it increases absorption. So, you can have cold fish and their oil for breakfast, lunch, and also for dinner.


How does EPA work in your body?

EPA plays an essential role in proper fetal development, which includes neuronal, retinal, and immune functions. Also, when you consume Eicosapentaenoic acid, it prevents blood clotting and reduces triglyceride levels in your blood. If you have pain and swelling somewhere inside your body, it may help reduce them.


What are the benefits of EPA?

Like ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA is also essential for your body and provides many benefits. Read on to know what benefits EPA can give you!

  1. Help reduce ADHD
  2. Reduces depression symptoms
  3. Lowers risk of heart diseases
  4. Help reduce inflammation
  5. Decrease after-menopause hot flashes
  6. Give relief from menstrual pain and joint pains
  7. Reduce fatigue
  8. Help cure coronary artery disease.
  9. Lowers aggressiveness and depression
  10. Reduce risks of prostate and lung cancer

EPA mostly does not show any side effects. But, in some, it may cause nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, itching, nosebleed, joint and back pain, itching, loose stools, or skin rashes. 

Tip: To decrease the chances of side effects, consume EPA with a meal and remember not to consume more than 3 grams a day.


DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)

Docosahexaenoic acid is found along with EPA in cold-water fish and also in some types of algae. A small amount of it is also present in the human body in adipose tissues, but your body requires more DHA from food and supplements. 

It is necessary for your healthy eyes, skin, and brain functionality. The source of DHA is similar to that of EPA, that is, seafood, seaweed, and fish oil supplements. 250 to 3,000 mg of DHA is safe to consume in a day. So, do not consume more than that to avoid severe health issues. 


How does DHA work in your body?

The DHA in your body develops tissues of the eyes and nerves. If the body requires EPA, the DHA gets converted into EPA. Like EPA, DHA also lowers the blood level of triglycerides. So, both DHA and EPA are almost similar as your body could replace them based on requirements.

DHA also has anti-inflammatory properties and contributes to brain development. It also reduces the thickness of the thickened blood.


What are the benefits that DHA provides your body?

DHA provides many health benefits like, 

  • It lowers the risk of heart diseases.
  • It helps improve ADHD, mainly in children.
  • DHA can reduce the chances of early preterm birth.
  • As it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce and fight inflammation in the body.
  • DHA helps reduce muscle soreness. 
  • It enables the eyes to stay healthy.
  • DHA may help reduce the risk of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer.
  • It helps the brain function properly, reducing the chances of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It improves blood circulation.
  • DHA is good for a baby’s eyes and brain development.
  • DHA deficiency may harm the health and motility of sperms. Therefore, it is necessary to fulfill the needs of DHA in them.
  • DHA is also beneficial for asthma patients. 

DHA may cause side effects like nausea, heartburn, and bad breath in some. Remember to consult your doctor before consuming fish oils as a source of DHA because fish oils can cause blood thinning. And if you are on any medication, it is necessary to consult a doctor before taking any type of Omega-3 fatty acids.


Bottom line

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients to stay healthy and fit. The three vital Omega-3 fatty acids necessary to consume through food or supplements in your daily diet are ALA, EPA, and DHA.

ALA is Alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid found in nuts and vegetables. It is a potent antioxidant that converts nutrients into energy. And EPA, Eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA, Docosahexaenoic acid, another two types of Omega-3 fatty acids. 

They are found in cold-water fish like salmon and tuna. EPA is beneficial for preventing blood clots and reducing triglyceride levels in the blood. And DHA is vital for brain and eye health. 

We hope you found this article helpful and enjoyed reading it. Do not forget to tell us in the comment section about your experience of reading this article.

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