Despite their importance to our physical health, most people don’t truly know much about omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients that are not produced naturally by our bodies, therefore we must rely on our diet to provide them.
The three most important types are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA occur mostly in animal foods and algae. Each essential to a healthy diet in their own right, and each type is able to be converted to DHA by our bodies.
ALA also known as alpha-linolenic acid is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet. ALA is used in your body primarily for energy, however it has the unique ability to be converted into the biologically active forms of omega-3, such as EPA and DHA. ALA should be a consistent part of your diet as a source of energy and can be found in foods like flax seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and soybeans.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is mostly found in animal products, such as fatty fish and fish oil. However, some microalgae also contain EPA. Your body uses EPA to produce signaling molecules called eicosanoids, which play numerous physiological roles and reduce inflammation. EPA plays several roles in your body, and like ALA, parts of it can be converted into DHA.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most important omega-3 fatty acid in your body. Our body uses DHA as a key structural component of our brain, the retina of our eyes, and numerous other body parts. Like EPA, DHA occurs mainly in animal products like fatty fish and fish oil. Meat, eggs, and dairy from grass-fed animals also tend to contain significant amounts. Because DHA is derived from animals, vegetarians and vegans have been found to be often lacking DHA.
Common foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. Vegetarians and vegans often lack DHA due to its derivation from animals. For people who do not eat much of these foods, an omega-3 supplement is recommended. These can be found as stand-alone products, or as part of other supplements such as Being Hemp Nano CBD tinctures that uniquely combine natural botanicals and omega 3-6-9 fatty acids to maximize their effectiveness and nutritional value.