The Importance Of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Omega 3 is the most scientifically studied supplement on the planet and most people do not consume enough of this essential nutrient. (See below for a list of related articles and scientific research.)

There are several reasons why many people do not consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids:

1. Limited Dietary Sources: Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in certain foods, such as fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and certain plant oils (for example the oils of these nuts and seeds.) If individuals do not regularly consume these foods, they may not be getting enough Omega-3 in their diet.

2. Issues with conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA:

ALA, the most common Omega-3, is found in vegetable oils, nuts, and leafy vegetables. While it’s not difficult to consume, ALA is generally used for energy, which limits its conversion into EPA and DHA. This tells us that simply eating these foods won’t guarantee a balanced Omega-6:3 ratio.

The conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is limited in the human body due to several factors:

- Enzyme Efficiency: The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is carried out by a series of enzymes, including delta-6 desaturase (D6D) and delta-5 desaturase (D5D). However, these enzymes have limited efficiency in most individuals, which means only a small percentage of ALA gets converted to EPA and DHA.

- Competitive Inhibition: ALA competes with omega-6 fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid (LA), for the same enzymes involved in the conversion process. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids can inhibit the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA, leading to a less favorable Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio.

- Dietary Composition: Diets that are low in EPA and DHA but high in ALA, such as vegetarian and vegan diets, may not provide sufficient amounts of pre-formed EPA and DHA to meet the body's requirements. As a result, the conversion of ALA becomes more critical in these dietary patterns.

- Genetic Variations: Some individuals may have genetic variations that impact the activity of the enzymes involved in ALA conversion. These genetic differences can influence the efficiency of the conversion process, leading to varying conversion rates between individuals.

- Age and Health Status: The efficiency of ALA conversion may vary with age and health status. For example, infants and older adults generally have lower conversion rates, making it important to ensure an adequate intake of pre-formed EPA and DHA in their diets.

- Nutritional Factors: Certain nutritional factors, such as deficiencies in certain nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and B12, can affect the conversion process.

- For individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets, it is essential to consider alternative sources of EPA and DHA, such as algae-based supplements, which provide pre-formed DHA derived from marine algae eg. Zinzino BalanceOil Vegan


3. Farmed fish are frequently fed grains that are high in Omega 6, resulting in a nigh Omega-6 content in the fish, which outweighs the Omega-3.

4. Cultural Habits and Preferences: Some people may have cultural habits or dietary preferences that do not include foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. For example, certain cultural diets may be low in fish consumption or plant-based foods that are high in Omega-3.

5. Lack of Awareness: Many individuals may not be aware of the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet and the potential health benefits they offer. As a result, they may not prioritize consuming foods that are rich in these essential fats.

6. Availability and Affordability: In some regions or communities, access to Omega-3-rich foods may be limited, or the cost of these foods may be prohibitive, making it challenging for people to include them in their diet regularly.

7. High Consumption of Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential but are prevalent in many processed and fast foods, as well as certain vegetable oils used in cooking. An imbalanced ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to health issues, making it essential to balance the intake of both types of fats.

8. Lifestyle Factors: Busy lifestyles and reliance on convenience foods may contribute to a diet that is lacking in Omega-3-rich whole foods.

9. Dietary Restrictions: Some individuals may have dietary restrictions due to allergies, medical conditions, or ethical choices (eg veganism) that limit their consumption of specific Omega-3-rich foods.

The Importance Of Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are aptly named, given that the body can’t make them naturally. The only way to get these nutrients is through your diet, which is why foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to us.

There are two families of essential fatty acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6, both of which are important for a healthy life. Both essential fatty acids support the functions necessary for the body to thrive, and as a society we have a disproportionate intake of Omega-6 over Omega-3. This throws off the all-important Omega-6:3 ratio in our bodies, resulting in the majority of the population living out of balance.

The functions of essential fatty acids include contributing to normal brain and heart health, normal vision, and blood triglyceride levels, while supporting the structural components of cell membranes.

Saturated & unsaturated fatty acids

Circling back to the Omega-6:3 ratio, culturally we’re consuming too many saturated fats and not enough unsaturated fats. Fats that are tightly packed with no double bonds between fatty acids are known as saturated fats. This includes foods such as fatty beef, lamb, some chicken products, and dairy products.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are loosely packed. They come in the form of monounsaturated (olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds) and polyunsaturated fats. The body needs the latter to function, and these can be split into two types: Omega-6 and Omega-3.

The Mediterranean diet is favored when it comes to maintaining overall wellbeing. This means opting for healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and high-fat fish as a replacement for processed meats.

Consuming enough Omega-3: Do you need fatty acid supplements?

While it’s important to eat seafood two times per week to maximize the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA, this doesn’t guarantee an optimal Omega-6:3 ratio.

Which is why I recommend supplementing with Zinzino BalanceOil – a science, evidence and test base supplement.


Nerds Corner

Dr. Rhonda Patrick has a gift for translating complex scientific topics into actionable insights in her videos, podcasts, and articles. She's dedicated to the pursuit of longevity and optimal health—and shares the latest research on nutrition, aging, and disease prevention with her growing audience.


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Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that play critical roles in human health, participating in a wide range of biochemical pathways and processes and modulating the expression of genes throughout the lifespan. Omega-3 fatty acids include plant-derived alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and marine-derived eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), among others. A growing body of evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids may prevent or ameliorate symptoms associated with chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease,[1] neurodegenerative disease,[2] and rheumatoid arthritis[3] and may be beneficial in combating aging-related diseases. 

Although ALA plays important roles in human health,[4] this article focuses primarily on the beneficial effects of the marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Effects at a glance

Research demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acids exert a multitude of effects on health and aging, including:

  • Reducing ischemic events, including cardiovascular death by as much as 25 percent[5]
  • Preventing age-related macular degeneration[6] and improving night vision[7]
  • Reducing DNA damage, oxidative stress, and influencing various biomarkers of aging[8]
  • Reducing muscle loss in older adults[9]
  • Influencing infant brain development[10]
  • Protecting against damage from fine particulate air pollution exposure[11]
  • Increasing hypothalamic neurogenesis in animal models[12]
  • Ameliorating or reducing olfactory losses[13]
  • Increasing verbal IQ in children[14]
  • Reducing preterm birth[15]
  • Improving clinical outcomes in COVID-19,[16] [17] possibly via induction of interferons."[18]

Read The Full Article With References HERE


Additonal Published Literature


Ajabnoor SM, Thorpe G, Abdelhamid A, Hooper L. Long-term effects of increasing omega-3, omega-6 and total polyunsaturated fats on inflammatory bowel disease and markers of inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Nutr. 2020 Oct 21. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02413-y. Epub ahead of print.

Ruxton C. Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Nurs Stand. 2004 Aug 11-17;18(48):38-42. doi: 10.7748/ns2004. PMID: 15366399.

Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan;3(1):1-7. doi: 10.3945/an.111.000893. Epub 2012 Jan 5. PMID: 22332096; PMCID: PMC3262608.


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