Omega-3 DHA, what is it. Essential fatty acids are those that have to be provided by the diet since they cannot be synthesized in the body. In the case of the omega 3 (n-3) family of polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is α-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a precursor of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two important polyunsaturated fatty acids of long chain.
Alpha-linolenic acid is the essential fatty acid of the omega-3 series. This polyunsaturated fatty acid is present in seeds and vegetable oils such as canola or flax and chia seeds. From alpha-linolenic we can obtain EPA and DHA, the most important long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from ALA.
The drawback is that the efficiency of the conversion from EPA to DHA is very low. It is estimated that between 5 and 10% of ALA gives rise to EPA and between 0.01 and 1% to DHA.
The best option to obtain EPA and DHA effectively is the direct intake of these fatty acids. The main dietary sources are fatty fish and fish oil.
The intake of EPA and DHA in those people who do not consume fish, such as vegetarians, may be deficient. It has been observed that DHA is the most deficient and specifically in the vegetarian population the plasma concentration of this fatty acid is low.
However, there is evidence that vegetarians are more efficient at converting ALA to DHA, due to metabolic adaptation to such low intake.
Currently there is a higher intake of Omega 6
On the other hand, in Western countries omega 6 fatty acids are the most predominant in the diet, while the intake of omega 3 fatty acids is deficient. Omega 6 and omega 3 have opposite metabolic effects: while omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, omega-3 has anti-inflammatory effects and protects against cardiovascular, metabolic and autoimmune diseases. Therefore, the high omega 6 / omega 3 ratio, where omega 6 intake predominates, can be detrimental to health by promoting the onset of cardiovascular, inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, among others.
Therefore, it is important to maintain healthy levels of Omega-3 DHA.