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What is the '3' in "Omega 3" and why is it even important? • Dr. Sylvia Mandel

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered an essential fat since the body cannot produce them. They must come from the food.

Omega-3 fats are considered unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats contain within their chemical structure one or more double bonds between the carbon atoms that make them up (see figure) which gives them a liquid texture at room temperature (oil for example). Most vegetable fats are liquid due to the presence of many unsaturated acids, excluding coconut or palm oil for example, which are rich in saturated fatty acids and are therefore solid at room temperature.

So really, what is the meaning of the 3?
In a lecture I gave recently, I opened with the following question: "Do you know the meaning of the number '3' in the phrase omega-3? The answers were many and varied, starting with the description of the foods that contain it, a type of vitamin or fat, and ending with a supplement to improve heart activity. So let's sort things out.
The number "3" refers to the position of the double bond in the chemical structure (or molecular chain). A double bond is shown as 2 parallel lines connecting 2 carbons (or vertices, see figure). In omega-3 the double bond is at the third vertex when counting from the tail end of the chain (on the right side in the figure). Because of this, omega-3 fats belong to unsaturated fats.

Why is it important to include omega-3 in the weekly menu?
Over four decades of scientific research supports the consumption of omega-3 acids for the maintenance of general health, including the health of the heart, brain, skin, intestines and vision, as well as for the development of a normal pregnancy. Omega-3 acids strengthen nerve cells, promote thinking and management functions and improve memory. Omega-3 fats have been associated with reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.

Not all omega-3 fats are equal

There are three main types of omega-3:

  1. alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  2. eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  3. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

ALA Comes from the plant - it is found in seeds (flax, chia), nuts (walnuts) and oils (soybean, canola).
EPA and-DHA Found mainly in fatty fish (salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel), as well as mussels, oysters and seaweed.

Is it enough to consume omega-3 from plants?
Although ALA can turn into EPA and DHA in our body, this process is inefficient and therefore low amounts of them are produced. Given this situation, the only way to get EPA and DHA is by eating fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, mussels and oysters), food fortified with EPA and DHA, or taking an omega-3 supplement.

How much omega-3 type EPA and DHA should be consumed?
A standard serving of fish is about 85-100 grams, containing about 1,000 milligrams or more of EPA and DHA. If you eat fatty fish twice a week, the daily average of omega-3 will be between 250-500 milligrams.

Should we be concerned about contaminants such as mercury in fish or fish oil supplements?
The benefits of eating fish far outweigh the potential risks, of course, while being careful about the amount and type of fish. Pregnant women and children should also eat more fish due to its health benefits.

How do you check if omega-3 levels are normal?
Despite the importance of omega-3 for general health, testing for blood levels of omega-3 (as well as a profile of other essential fatty acids) can only be done privately.

In conclusion, in this article I focused on specific aspects from the extensive literature on omega-3 acids and their usefulness in a broad application of prevention and treatment of medical conditions. In a separate article, I will expand on how omega-3 may contribute to brain flexibility, strengthening neural connectivity and improving cognitive abilities and memory.

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Contact Chai here: At watsapBy email

Dr. Sylvia Mandel
Dr. Sylvia Mandel
A neuroscientist lectures and conducts workshops to preserve memory and cognition with the help of a healthy lifestyle. To book a lecture or join brain training workshops: 054-8886184 | [email protected]

Articles related to this topic

5 תגובות

  1. The website of the "Omega Galil" company has a huge database of articles and studies on all the roles and benefits of Omega 3 from fish oil,
    Including effect on inflammation/pain/ADHD/dementia/addictions/allergies/heart disease/multiple sclerosis, and more.
    You can also order an omega-3 blood level test there.
    There is also a public Facebook group - "Live without drugs", by Guy Ben Zvi - who founded Omega Galil, and has been researching the subject of omega for over 20 years.
    The group was established in 2015, and there are currently thousands of questions and answers on health and nutrition issues.

  2. Very interesting article. I would be happy if you also refer to the effects of omega 3 regarding improving block functions in ADHD.

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