There are two fatty acids that are essential for life: Linoleic acid (LA) in the omega-6 family, and Alpha-linolenic (ALA) in the omega-3 family. Like vitamins, these essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained through our food consumption.
In order to be useful to the body, LA and ALA must be converted in the body to longer chain fatty acids known as arachidonic acid (AA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and docosahexaenoic acid(DHA). All of these conversions can be slowed down by many lifestyle factors, including poor nutrition, stress, too much alcohol, and viral infections.
It is important to know that these long chain fatty acids are the building blocks of membranes around and within our cells. Remember that our brain is the most membrane-rich tissue in the body. It should not surprise us that brain function is altered by an inadequate supply of the right fatty acids.
So, all that to say, in order to achieve a good balance in your body, it is important to include fish, i.e: salmon, mackerel, tuna, fresh water trout or sardines, at least 3 times per week to obtain your Omega 3’s.
As far as Omega 6 is concerned…well, the truth is that most people do not need to up their intake. As a matter of fact, most North American people already consume plenty of Omega 6 through their vegetable oil consumption. (However, if you are interested in the long list of foods that do contain Omega 6, you can look online on Wikipedia under Omega-6 fatty acid).
Well, I guess our grandmothers were correct when they told us to eat more fish to be smart!!
What they did not know is that research suggests that high intakes of fish and omega 3 are linked to decreased risk of major depression and help children with learning disabilities.
The research is ongoing. For many people, taking this “good fat”, called Omega 3, in the form of a supplement can be a great addition to your daily food consumption.
I will discuss this supplementation in a future blog.