With more people opting to follow specific diets such as vegetarianism and veganism, there is an increased chance of a prevailing nutritional deficit, especially in certain essential nutrients that the body does not synthesize on its own. Some of these are Vitamins, dietary minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. Out of these, vegans and vegetarians may have an increased probability of missing out on Omega 3 fatty acids' required intake because their primary food source is fish, fish oil and seafood. Clinical studies even suggest Omega 3 fatty acid are depressed in vegetarians, especially in vegans. Omega 3 fatty acids are a group of healthy polyunsaturated fats that are needed for the normal functioning of many processes in the body. They are of three types - Alpha-Linoleic Acids (APA - derived from plant sources), Eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acids (DHA). Both EPA and DHA are derived from seafood and fish oil. These fatty acids are vital for our body's proper functioning and have potent cardioprotective properties with regulated intake and prolonged use. While the daily recommended dietary allowance of Omega 3 fatty acids is around 200-500 mg a day, the exclusion of marine food such as fatty fish, oysters from one’s diet makes it very difficult to meet. There is a significant imbalance of Omega-3 fatty acid levels in vegetarian and vegan diets. This is further sustained by the fact that there has been a massive drop in the nutritional levels of plants owing to the industrial shift in agricultural processes such as employing the use of fertilisers and pesticides instead of practising organic farming. It is suggested that Vegetarians should double the current adequate intake of ALA if no direct sources of EPA and DHA are consumed.
Omega 3 fatty acids are often referred to as an 'essential oil' for the human body. Though it has multiple benefits for different parts of the human body like the heart, brain, bones and joints, skin, eyes, etc., our body sadly does not produce it. Thus, we have to either source it naturally from dietary inputs like fatty fish of Rohu, Katla, salmon, and Indian Mackerel or get it from nuts and seeds like walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds. Alternatively, dietary supplements in the form of capsules also help. Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fats, which ideally comprise of three components, namely: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) While ALA is primarily found from plant sources, DHA and EPA are available from both plant and animal sources, like fatty fishes and nuts. Role of Omega-3 in Managing cholesterol
There are two types of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids needed for the normal functioning of the body. These are Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are widely distributed throughout nature and play a significant role in the human diet and physiology. Primarily, there are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids required by the body: Alpha-Linoleic Acids (ALA): They are the most abundant form of Omega-3 fatty acids and are primarily found in plants. ALA needs to be converted into EPA or DHA to be processed by the body. Foods like kale, spinach, walnuts and hemp are a few rich sources of ALA. Eicosapentaenoic Acids (EPA): They are a form of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids. The body uses EPA to produce signaling molecules called eicosanoids which help in reducing inflammation. Foods like salmon, eel, and shrimp are said to be potent sources of EPA. Docosahexaenoic Acids (DHA): They are an important component of the retina and skin and linked to aiding cognitive development. Foods like fatty fish and algae are a few good sources of DHA. Who Needs Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
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