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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Out of four important bio molecules, lipids are soluble in organic non-polar solvents. Unlike other bio molecules, lipids are not polymers. They are organic compounds contain ester as functional group.

Lipids involve in many biological functions like as an energy store and as structural components of cell membranes. It’s a group of compounds which are mainly composed of three components; fatty acids, glycerol and phosphate group. Some common examples of lipids are phospholipids, triglycerides, waxes. Some of the lipids do no contain ester functional groups like steroids, sphingolipids, and prostaglandins etc.
Fatty acids are carboxylic acids with a long aliphatic hydrocarbon chain and carboxyl group (-COOH). On the basis of hydrocarbon chain, fatty acids can be two types.

  • Saturated fatty acids
  • Unsaturated fatty acids
Because of the presence of double bond, unsaturated fatty acids can show geometrical isomerism and exhibit cis and trans form of molecules. Trans form show resemble to saturated fatty acids in their geometry, hence show similarity with them. Generally Cis-fatty acids are found in nature and trans-form synthesized artificially through the partial hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some common examples of fatty acids with their melting points are as follow.

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids
FormulaCommon NameMelting Point
CH3(CH2)10COOH Lauric acid 318K
CH3(CH2)12COOH Myristic acid 328K
CH3(CH2)14COOH Palmitic acid 336K
CH3(CH2)16COOH Stearic acid 342K
CH3(CH2)18COOH Arachidic acid 349K
CH3(CH2)5CH=CH(CH2)7COOH Palmitoleic acid 273K
CH3(CH2)7CH=CH(CH2)7COOH Oleic acid 286K
CH3(CH2)4CH=CHCH2CH=CH(CH2)7COOH Linoleic acid 268K
CH3CH2CH=CHCH2CH=CHCH2CH=CH(CH2)7COOH Linolenic acid 262K
CH3(CH2)4(CH=CHCH2)4(CH2)2COOH Arachidonic acid 224K


Table: Saturated and unsaturated fatty acid

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What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

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Some of the fatty acids cannot be synthesized by human body, therefore they must be intake in diet. These fatty acids are called as essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids can be two types.
  1. Fatty acids in which a double bond three carbon atoms removed from the methyl end also known as omega 3 fatty acids. For example, alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
  2. Fatty acids in which a double bond six carbon atoms removed from the methyl end also known as omega 6 fatty acids. For example, alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid.

Hence in Omega 3 fatty acids a double bond located at third carbon atom from one end of the carbon chain which started from methyl group and one carboxyl group located at another end of molecule.
Some other examples of omega 3 fatty acids are as follows.

Examples of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Structures of some of the omega 3 fatty acids are as follow.

Structure of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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Some most common sources of omega 3 fatty acids are sardines, salmon, flax seeds, walnuts and cloves. Other sources are halibut, cod, tuna, shrimp, soybeans, tofu, kale, winter squash and collard greens. ALA , EPA and DHA are most common omega 3 fatty acids, generally found in sea food.

Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Let's discuss some of the common source for omega 3 acids which must be present in human diet to prevent the deficiency of these fatty acids.
  • Fish - They are best source of Omega-3 fatty acids as cold-water fish and fish oils, including Cod Liver Oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Two omega 3 fatty acids; EPA and DHA are found in certain kinds of fishes like Salmon. There is around 1.8 gm of omega 3 fatty acids per 3 ounce presents in Farm raised salmon. Other fishes like tuna, bluefish, anchovies, mackerel are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Nuts, Seeds and Oils - ALA an omega-3 fatty acid is found in the plant foods like flaxseeds and their oil, nuts like walnuts, brazil nuts pumpkin seeds, olive oil and hemp seeds. Out of these food stuff, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil is best one as they can be easily added to a smoothed or your morning oatmeal. Some other plant foods which contain ALA fatty acid are as follows,

Plant Foods Containing ALA Fatty
  • Fruits and Vegetables - Similar to nuts and seeds, ALA fatty acid is also found in fruits and vegetables. Some common fruits and vegetables are as follows with content of ALA found in them

Fruits and Vegetables Content of ALA
  • Wheat Germ, Beef and Poultry - Other important sources of omega 3 fatty like DHA and EPA are eggs, beef and poultry.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Benefits

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Compare to other fatty acids, omega 3 fatty acids are essential for living system as they cannot produced in body, thus must intake in diet. Some health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are following.
  1. Heart Health, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol Levels: Omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce blood pressure reduce triglycerides and in the maintenance of cholesterol levels. Fish oil is beneficial for this purpose and help to improve bod composition as well as decrease the cardiovascular disease risk.
  2. Prostate Health and Testosterone Levels: These fatty acids along with Vitamin D effect positively on men's fertility, erective function by improving the cardiovascular health, sperm count, quality and spermiogenesis.
  3. Mental Health, ADHD and Depression: Omega-3 fatty acids help to calm angry mood and lessen risk and severity of depression. The attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children may have because of low levels of certain essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA. Children with low level of omega 3 fatty acids more learning and behavioral problems like temper tantrums and sleep disturbances.
  4. Metabolic Health and Diabetes: Because of diabetes problem, the level of triglyceride increases with decreasing in HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are helpful to make low level of triglycerides and raise HDL level. Omega-3 fatty acids are also helpful in improvement of glucose uptake in the presence of insulin.
  5. Anti-Infammatory and Immune System Health: These fatty acids have capability of reduction of inflammatory factors and as an anti-inflammatory to treat arthritis joint pain symptoms.
  6. Colon Health and Colon Cancer: These fatty acids are helpful against colorectal cancer.
  7. Women's Health: Omega-3 fatty acids improve women's fertility and help in fight depression, including post-partum depression. They are also helpful in improvement of bone mineral density and improve cognitive function.
  8. Fetus and Infant Health: The consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids is good during pregnancy for the improvement of nervous system of fetus, their development of bones and mineral density in bones. It also helps to reduce risks of asthma in children, eyesight, cognition and IQ.
  9. Children's Health, Omega 3 fatty acids are also effective in the growth of children. They also impart effects on their cognitive performance and learning, skills as well as problem solving skills.
  10. Muscle Recovery: Omega 3 fatty acids present in fish oils promote resting oxygen consumption to increase in recovery and promoted resistance to muscle fatigue.

Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Foods

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Essential fatty acids are necessary for good health as they involve in many biological functions and for maintaining the brain and nerve functions. But these fatty acids cannot synthesize in human body, hence both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids must intake in diet. The primarily sources for omega 3 fatty are fish fishes like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, many nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseed, vegetable and fruits, eggs.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Foods
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