More "Fat Talk" – Part 1

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted June 29, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

Omega-3 (N-3) fatty acids are important in human nutrition. Specifically, because these are essential fats that the human body cannot make on its own. N-3 fatty acids are integral structural components of the cellular membranes of tissues throughout the human body necessary from conception and throughout the entirety of our lives. 

Most of us have heard the term “good fats” and “bad fats.” Not all fats are created equal. Some even have anti-inflammatory properties while others have pro-inflammatory properties. “Bad fats” usually refer to omega-6 fatty acids that promote inflammation in the membrane phospholipids of cells. While inflammation plays a key role in the healing process, chronic inflammation contributes to tissue damage, aging, and disease. 

What makes essential fatty acids essential?

Fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat. While the human body can produce most of the fats it needs, it cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids. This means that the body must obtain them through the foods we eat. In our article, we took a dive into N-3 Fatty acids which are necessary for cell growth and preservation, providing energy and forming important components of cell membranes. 

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are:

  1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
  2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
  3. Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA).

EPA. This is primarily found in seafood such as salmon, shrimp, and algae. EPA is used by the body to produce signaling molecules and play a role in anti-inflammatory processes. Prescription EPA is used to reduce triglyceride levels.

DHA. Similarly to EPA, it is also primarily found in seafood. DHA is an integral structural component of your skin and retina. The human retina is well known for its unique lipid profiles and not having sufficient fatty acids results in decreased vision and compromises the integrity of the retina. Additionally, studies have shown the impact that DHA has is protective against retinal diseases. DHA is also important for brain development. The developing brain needs sufficient DHA for optimal visual, cognitive development, and brain function.

ALA. ALA is the most commonly found omega-3 fatty acid in our diet. Several plants contain ALA such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. 

Let's get more into omega-3 fatty acids and food choices on Thursday.

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ