Omega 3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution!

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution!

- in Health, Healthy Food
fatty acids

In the era of modern technologies and the evolutionary (un)imposed female emancipation, the impression is that we try to respond to the “demands” of the modern era, constantly balancing between desires and possibilities, trying to maintain the necessary balance with our environment and satisfactory state of one’s own spirit. At the same time, at least to me, it is logical to ask questions. To what extent to turn to yourself and nature, relying on your intuition while following the accelerated pace of life?

Has the Internet as a “window into the world” brought something useful? How much should we be wise and/or educated to properly filter out what is being “served” there? Could the modern man’s illness be a consequence of a bad way of life and an irregular diet? How much can we improve the quality of life if we change some habits?

We receive, from all media, different pieces of information, as well as new “shocking” findings and discoveries. I have to admit that I often find myself in a mismatch between the acquired and experienced knowledge and what I truly adhere to in practice. Should I be bothered by conscience when I offer fast food or sweets of white sugar and flour to a child in development? And then I remember the famous Paracelsus sentences: “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison”. And I’m trying to stick to it to finally get to the point.

Today I will share with you some basic facts about the popular ω- (omega) fatty acids. They are present and available in both food and dietary supplements, which you probably already know. What you may not know is that 25-30% of the daily energy needs of our organism should be, as a rule, satisfied with the intake of fat. One gram of fat gives 2.2 times more energy than 1 g of protein or carbohydrates.

But what does not have in carbohydrates and proteins are essential fatty acids. We must bring them in through foods containing them (or alternatively, by dietary supplements) because the human organism is not able to synthesize them. They are necessary for proper functioning, preservation of vital functions and prevention of various diseases.

According to the chemical classification, there are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) Omega Three and Omega Six Series:



  EMK The food that contains it
Omega 3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) linseed oil, soybean oil, flax seeds, vegetables from the sea (algae), vegetables with large green leaves (cabbage, spinach), walnuts, rape oil, and fish from cold water (salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout)
represented mostly in fish and fish oil, which is why they are called “sea omega-3”.
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Omega 6 fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) nutcracker oil, black currant seeds
linoleic acid (LA) cold sunflower oil, corn oil and sesame oil
arachidonic acid (AA)  


Essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6 series) must be present in the diet with a minimum of 2% and a maximum of 10% of daily needs (optimal 3-7%). It is very important to make a favorable balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The ideal balance is 1: 2 (max. 1: 4). In order to efficiently use EFAs, it is necessary that on each taken 1g of EFA should be added 1 mg vitamin E as an antioxidant (most of it has in soya and corn oil).

What may pose the problem is that recently this ratio, unfortunately, is much higher.

According to some studies, it is 1:15 and even 1:30. This imbalance is considered to be one of the causes of blood vessel disease. Furthermore, it may cause many other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. An increased level of omega-3 fatty acids has the opposite effect because of the more positive effect on the body.

One of the foods that is an excellent source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in almost perfectly balanced LA compared to EPA and DHA (1: 2,2) is mackerel, although there may be prejudices that, due to lower prices on the market, “they are less healthy “.

It is widely known, on the basis of numerous studies, that Eskimos and Japanese, as populations that use many fish-rich omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, herring, sardine, cod, mackerel) in their diet, have lowered LDL- bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and increased HDL – good cholesterol. Because of this reason, nutritionists recommend the consumption of two fat portions of fish per week to provide sufficient intake of these ingredients.

It has been scientifically proven that omega-3 fatty acids have a number of beneficial effects on the body.

They reduce inflammatory processes and risk factors associated with the development of chronic heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. On the other hand, they have an important role in the functioning of the brain and proper growth and development.

Symptoms of deficiency of essential fatty acids (slow growth, dermatitis, reduced organ resistance, fatigue, poor memory, cardiac problems, mood swings, depression and poor circulation) are rarely found in people who eat properly.

On the other hand, as Paracelsus said, there is nothing to be exaggerated because negative consequences can occur. One of the rare adverse effects of long-lasting and intense supplementation and intake of larger amounts of fish-more than 3g fish oil (3 fish meals a day) leads to dilution of blood, prolonged bleeding and possible interactions with some drugs-sensitivity to aspirin.

It was noticed 10 to 20 times slower blood coagulation in a man who ate only fish.

What you need to keep in mind is that if you decide to remove foods of animal origin, it is that to a lesser extent in the body, translates ALA into EPA and DHA (they only exist in foods of animal origin) so that you can compensate it with supplements that contain them.

Of utmost importance is the proper use and storage of oil. It contains plenty of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which include essential fatty acids. Therefore, it is recommended to use fresh seeds in the diet.

And at the end of the story, we come to that famous “but”. Experts in the field of food science recommend two portions of fish per week. However, toxicologists warn of the potential risk of contamination of fish by heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium). Even more, there are other harmful toxins that the sea is polluted with. We will talk about this some other time.

About the author

Ivana Kamenovic was born in Nis, Serbia. Since 2001 she has been a graduated chemist (PMF, Nis, Department of Chemistry), engaged in food analytics and water and in 2013 she became a specialist in sanitary chemistry at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade. Energetic, communicative and curious by nature.

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