All Omega-3s Are Not Created Equal
You hear a lot of claims about omega-3s today, especially as additives to foods. All three major omega-3 fatty acids listed below are needed by the body, but not equally so. DHA plays the most important role in visual and mental development.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and retina. It is an important structural component of the nerve cells in the brain and eyes and a key component of heart tissue. DHA is also a natural component of breast milk.
Important for healthy brain, eye and nervous system development in infants
Key component of the heart and one of the omega-3 recommended by the American Heart Association and the USDA Dietary Guidelines for good cardiovascular health
Plays a key role in the anti-inflammatory process
Important at every stage of life
Original source: microalgae. The DHA-rich oil is extracted for use as an additive in foods, supplements and infant formulas
Dietary sources: fatty fish and organ meats
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)is an omega-3 fatty acid important for human health. However, unlike DHA, EPA is not found in significant levels in the brain or retina and is not considered a significant structural part of the body.
Plays a role in cardiovascular health and is one of the omega-3 recommended by the American Heart Association and the USDA Dietary Guidelines for good cardiovascular health
Shown to help reduce chronic inflammation by modifying the immune response
Dietary sources: fatty fish. DHA can also be converted by the body into EPA
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)an essential fatty acid, is an omega-3 that serves as a source of energy and a building block for DHA and EPA.
Only 5-10% of ALA is converted to EPA and 5% or less to DHA18-25
No known independent benefits of ALA on the brain or retina
Dietary sources: flaxseeds, walnuts and soy