The names of food supplements are often hidden under quite complex abbreviations, reminiscent of spells - ALA, R-ALA, ALC, 5-HTP, 5-MTHF, NAD, DMAE and others. Are you catching Similarly, they simplify and shorten the names of the most important substances in omega fatty acids. Have an overview of what EPA, DHA and CLA mean - that is why omega fatty acid supplements are among the most popular supplements on the market and which no nutritionist has missed in their programs, we wrote this article. We will imagine all their benefits, what health problems they can help you with and how to choose these supplements.

It has been said for generations that if you take a dietary supplement, it is fish oil. Spoons of fish oil in the morning for children, or even for adults - what a classic in black and white films. Unfortunately, in a time without the Internet, when there was a shortage of information, few people knew, and even today it is no exception, why fish oil? Or overall - why pay so much attention to healthy oils that are high in omega fatty acids? Yes, they contain vitamin D, vitamin E, but these can be taken in higher doses in separate dietary supplements. Of course, their presence makes healthy oils great supplements. However, the most important content is EPA - eicosapentaenoic acid, DHA - docosahexaenoic acid and possibly LA - linoleic acid, or CLA - conjugated linoleic acid and ALA - α-linolenic acid.

Fatty acid distribution for better overview:

  • EPA, DHA, ALA = Omega 3 fatty acids
  • LA, CLA = Omega 6 fatty acids

* There are many more types of fatty acids, the above are among the most important

Everyone's goal should be to consume omega 3 and omega 6 in the right proportions. The golden rule is that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 should be between 2: 1 and 4: 1. Some omega 6s are pro-inflammatory, but this is not the case with linoleic acid. Another division is very important - into non-essential fatty acids, those that the human body can create itself and essential fatty acids, which we must take in the diet or in the form of supplements, because the body can only store them and not create them. It will help you to know that the human body is only able to produce omega-9 fatty acids on its own, and we will not discuss them today. To make this division small, let's add another fraction - saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Remember the saturated ones - their increased intake causes obesity and the rise of bad cholesterol. The EPA, DHA, ALA and CLA discussed today are unsaturated.

Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA / DHA) - effects

You can most often find the first mentioned acid in very good amounts in fish food supplements. One of the best sources is cod liver oil, ideally from gentle breeding without exposure to heavy metals and toxic substances. You can often find quality certificates for such accessories, every manufacturer is happy to be proud. At the very top is another form of oil - krill oil. Eicosapentaenoic acid promotes the reduction of cholesterol levels, ie its "bad" fraction of LDL (lipoprotein, which carries low-density cholesterol) and has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. EPA is rarely DHA-free in the supplements - docosahexaenoic acid, for a simple reason. They have many synergistic effects. DHA helps maintain normal brain function, normal vision, and is also beneficial for the heart and normal blood pressure. It is because of this acid that the imaginary image of previous generations of children with a teaspoon of fish oil is so famous. Young children receive a sufficient amount of DHA in breast milk, but the problem occurs with its intolerance. That is why the use of oil has long been so favored in ancient times.

Linoleic acid (CLA) - effects

A little aside, unjustly beyond the greatest popularity remain omega 6 fatty acids. As we wrote above, this is mainly due to the fact that they are generally fixed as pro-inflammatory. This is a big mistake, and the greatest proof is linoleic acid. Many dietary supplements designed as fat burners contain CLA. CLA is conjugated linoleic acid, involved in thousands of metabolic processes in the body. Many health studies combine the effects of preventing many diseases and it is added to the so-called fat burners mainly due to the effects of reducing the activity of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase and at the same time the ability to start metabolism at night, when the greatest fat storage occurs. Unfortunately, these effects have not yet been approved in health claim guidelines, which currently state only "Linoleic acid helps maintain normal blood cholesterol levels."

How Much Do You Need Omega 3 And 6 Fatty Acids Daily?

Omega 3 fatty acids, like other fats, are energy sources, components of cell membranes, and omega 6 is no less important. We mentioned above how important their correct ratio is. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, or if you don't eat fish for other reasons, it can be a problem to consume enough EPA and DHA fatty acids in your diet, while omega 6 fatty acids can be found mainly in plant products. According to prestigious organizations, two to four grams of Omega 3 fatty acids per day are optimal. At the same time, the Nutrition Council of the US Medical Institute recommends that adult men take 14 grams of linoleic acid per day and women approximately 11 grams. But as you can see, there is something wrong with that! We have stated that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 should be between 2: 1 and 4: 1!
The results look like this - the average ratio of omega-6: omega-3 is 12: 1 for Europe and 23: 1 for the USA ... what does that mean? So up to 90% of people are at risk of imbalance!

What with this? The main thing you can do to reduce your intake of those "bad" omega 6s immediately is to avoid processed seed and vegetable oils high in omega 6, as well as processed foods that contain them. On the contrary, increase the level of Omega 3 fatty acids with a dietary supplement or quality foods - seafood, quality meat, homemade eggs or oils from hemp, flax and chia seeds. And when it comes to omega 6 supplementation, focus on its proper form - conjugated linoleic acid.