Omega-3 fatty acids
What are omega-3 / omega-6 fatty acids?
Like omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are important components of cell membranes, which are important for cell communication and for the transport of substances between the cell interior and the extracellular space.
What is the function of the omega-3 / omega-6 fatty acids?
Tissue hormones (eicosanoids) are formed in the human body from the polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are central to the regulation of many metabolic processes, such as cell proliferation, inflammatory reactions and blood clotting. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids form tissue hormones that perform different and often opposing tasks. A balanced supply of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is central to normal metabolic function; the ideal ratio is 4:1. However, this value is about 50:1 in Western and Central Europe due to diet, which leads to widespread deficiency symptoms.
Why supplement omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids dilate blood vessels, keep them elastic and inhibit blood clotting, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease. They also promote brain performance, since the oxygen supply to the brain is improved with the improved blood circulation.
A good supply of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy helps the unborn child to develop good eyesight and immune system and to promote brain and intelligence.
Because of the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids, they are helpful in many inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, asthma, chronic intestinal diseases (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), neurodermatitis and psoriasis (psoriasis).
What are the most important omega-3 fatty acids?
The most important omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (α-linolenic acid).
The daily requirement of an adult for omega-3 fatty acids is 500 milligrams EPA+ DHA and 2g alpha-linolenic acid.
The main cause of deficiency symptoms is the excessive consumption of foods with an unfavorable fatty acid balance, i.e. rich in omega-6 fatty acids, such as olive oil, animal fats and dairy products from cows fed with soy and grain.
Typical symptoms of an omega-3 deficiency are muscle weakness, tremors, sensitivity to light, scaly skin, difficulty concentrating, stunted growth, poor wound healing, straggly hair, mood swings, limited learning abilities, sleep disorders and depression.
The symptoms of a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids are diverse and often unspecific, so that the deficit is often only recognized at a late stage.
What is the difference between omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids?
To understand why omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids are so important, the differences must first be explained.
Omega 3 fatty acids
The omega 3 fatty acids have the first double bond on the third carbon atom, seen from the omega end. The most important form for us is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The tasks of omega 3 fatty acids include reducing pain, producing anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, regulating blood pressure, increasing the flexibility of cell membranes and much more. In order to ensure the supply, omega 3 fatty acids must be supplied through food. The body does not make them itself.
Omega 6 fatty acids
These fatty acids are also very important for the human body. Unlike omega 3 fatty acids, omega 6 fatty acids have their first double bond on the sixth carbon arm, hence their name. The most important representatives are linoleic acid, aracidonic acid and gamma-linolenic acid. They are components of the cell membranes, lower the negative LDL cholesterol value, unfortunately also the positive HDL value. In addition, eicosanoids have a vasoconstrictive effect. Omega 6 fatty acids have a positive effect on the body's growth and repair processes. Omega 6 fatty acids must also be ingested through food, but this is not a problem. They are found in sunflower oil, safflower oil and animal meat.
Omega 9 fatty acids
Omega 9 fatty acids are located on the ninth carbon atom. They can affect the cardiovascular system and cholesterol levels. In addition, they support the communication of the nerve cells. The big difference to omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids is that omega 9 fatty acids can be produced by the body itself and are therefore not among the essential fatty acids. Saturated oil intake is enough for the body to produce omega 9..
Tip: Omega 6 fatty acids are consumed in abundance through food. Omega 9 fatty acids are produced by the body itself. A deficiency can only occur with omega 3 fatty acids.
How do omega 3 fatty acids work?
The spectrum of activity of omega 3 fatty acids is very broad. The most important property is certainly the better protection of the cells against the premature aging process. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids have the property of powerful antioxidants that even cross the blood-brain barrier.
The entire cardiovascular system is positively influenced by the intake. There is a reduction in triglyceride levels, which in the long term leads to an increase in HDL cholesterol levels. Overall, blood circulation is improved and the blood-thinning effect ensures fewer deposits in the blood vessels.
Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the formation of substances that are responsible for numerous inflammations. This can have a positive effect on rheumatism, arthritis, psoriasis and neurodermatitis.
When is there a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids?
A lack of omega 3 fatty acids can manifest itself in different ways. The symptoms are different for each person. The most common appearances are:
- Dry scaly skin
- High blood pressure
- Declining eyesight
- Weak immune system (often colds etc.)
- Decreased blood flow
- Increased risk of rheumatism
- Development of cardiovascular diseasesruck
What is the daily requirement for omega 3 fatty acids?
How much omega 3 should be consumed per day varies depending on the age group. The ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids also plays a role here. According to the DGE (German Society for Nutrition), the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 should be 1:5.
Daily requirement for adults
The daily requirement of omega 3 for an adult is estimated at 0.5 percent of the energy consumed. With an energy intake of 2400 calories, this corresponds to approx. 1.3 grams per day. This amount is already reached with one tablespoon of rapeseed oil per day.
Daily requirement during pregnancy and lactation
During pregnancy, the need for DHA in particular increases. An additional intake of 200 mg DHA per day is recommended. The total requirement for EPA and DHA is therefore 450 mg per day. This is where dietary supplements can come in handy.n.
Daily needs for children
The daily requirement for small children is around 100 mg omega 3 fatty acid. Children from the age of two and adolescents should take 200 mg per day. If children do not like fish or corresponding oils, the use of dietary supplements can also be a solution.
Daily requirement for athletes
During extensive training sessions, athletes have a significantly higher calorie and nutrient consumption than normal people. Especially the regeneration phase is affected by the omega 3 intake. American nutrition researchers recommend an intake of 1 to 2 grams of EPA and DHA. In normal recreational sports, however, the usual 300 mg EPA and DHA per day are sufficient. The daily requirement of 300 mg EPA and DHA can already be covered with a portion of fish of 100 to 200 grams.
The most important foods for omega 3 fatty acids
In addition to dietary supplements, there is a very large selection of different omega 3 suppliers from nature. We have listed the most important foods here and provided them with the nutrient content of omega 3 fatty acids.
Kaltwasserfische und Meerespflanzen sind sehr gute Lieferanten für Omega 3 Fettsäuren.
- Thunfisch: 4,2 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Fisch
- Makrele geräuchert: 4,1 Gram auf 100 Gram Fisch
- Hering: 4,0 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Fisch
- Lachs: 3,6 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Fisch
- Ölsardinen: 2,8 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Fisch
- Phytoplankton: 1,4 Gramm auf 100 Gram Phytoplankton
In vielen Ölen steckt bekanntlich ein hoher Anteil an Omega 3 Fettsäuren.
- Leinöl: 52,8 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Öl
- Leindotteröl: 36 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Öl
- Hanföl: 25 Gramm auf 100 Gramm Öl
- Nuts are also a very good Omega 3 supplier.
- Walnuts: 7.8 grams per 100 grams of nuts
- Almonds: 1.1 grams per 100 grams of almonds
- Pecan nut: 11.5 grams per 100 grams of nuts
- Hazelnuts: 12.9 grams per 100 grams of nuts
- Macadamia nuts: 16.6 grams per 100 grams of nuts
- Cashew nuts: 6.7 grams per 100 grams of nuts
Seeds also show a very high content of omega 3 fatty acids
- Flaxseed: 16.7 grams per 100 grams of seeds
- Chia seeds: 19 grams per 100 grams of seeds
- Hemp seeds: 9 grams per 100 grams of seeds
With sufficient intake, the acai berry provides a large number of omega 3 fatty acids
- Acai berry: 8.9 grams per 100 grams of acai powder
Omega 3 as a dietary supplement
There are many reasons why someone is not getting enough omega 3 fatty acids naturally through diet. Sometimes the foods with a high content are not part of the daily selection of food, sometimes the required amount is not sufficiently covered by the food due to overexertion in sports and work.
If the diet is not healthy, it can lead to an undersupply of omega 3 fatty acids. This deficiency can be eliminated with dietary supplements. In the form of omega 3 fatty acid capsules, the intake is very easy and can be easily integrated into the daily routine.