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Linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3 fatty acid) make up the essential fatty acids that are critical for proper development and body functions.
Linoleic acid can break down into arachidonic acids which can act as pro or anti-inflammatory compounds in the body.
Alpha-linolenic acid is predominantly made up of the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), known for their benefits of lowering inflammation and improving cognitive function. These fats have several main functions in the body ranging from energy production, oxygen transfer, hemoglobin production, and making up cell membranes. Benefits of EFAs include improving skin health, ensuring proper cell signaling and nerve functioning, supporting mood and brain function, boosting immunity, and decreasing inflammation.
Omega 6 rich foods
Omega 3 rich foods
Essential fatty acids are commonly deficient in the Western diet, especially omega 3 fats, and this stems from several reasons. First, the Standard North American diet provides an overabundance of omega 6 compared to omega 3 fats which can contribute to increased inflammation and oxidative damage. It is estimated that our modern diet consists of a ratio close to 20:1 omega 6 to omega 3 whereas it should ideally sit around 2:1. Omega 6 fats are found abundantly in processed and fast foods, vegetable oils, and soy so your best bet is to focus on whole foods and make sure you are including omega 3 rich foods daily to keep this ratio balanced. Looking to boost your omega 3 intake? Check out some of our top tips for choosing a good quality supplement to make sure you are getting the nutrition you need at the best quality.
Choosing an Omega 3 supplement
Not all omega 3 supplements are created equal. Poor quality products can promote oxidation in the body through processing, rancidity, or poor sourcing. This can lead to inflammation and lower nutrient content which is why consumer knowledge matters!
You can find omega 3 supplements in vegan form in algae or animal-form in fish or krill.