Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids (EFA - Essential Fatty Acids), which include, among others, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
Omega-3 fatty acids do not undergo de novo synthesis in humans due to the lack of the proper metabolic enzymes. Hence, humans can only receive omega-3 fatty acids from an appropriate and well-balanced diet. Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) can be found in linseed oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, as well as in English walnuts. DHA and EPA are mainly present in marine mammal and fish fats, seafood, along with certain freshwater fish fat, although to a lesser extent. Proportions and the number of long chain fatty acids (such as EPA and DHA) in fish oil depend on multiple factors: the fish species, their condition, as well as the time and place of the catch. The consumption of fish and seafood in Poland is quite low. That is why it is crucial to follow a healthy and properly balanced diet to provide the proper amount of essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Throughout history, the polyunsaturated fatty acids, which apart from omega-3 fatty acids also include omega-6 fatty acids, were designated as the F vitamin due to the fact that they need to be supplied along with food. As far as proper diet is concerned, it is critical to not only consume a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids, but to also maintain the appropriate balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is commonly reported that the dietary ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids should be between 5:1 and 3:1. Fatty acids included in the omega-6 group are found in considerable amounts in corn oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil and peanut oil. Of concern in the general diet, is the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids well in excess of the recommended ratios relative to omega-3 fatty acids. That is why we should aim for a healthy and balanced diet with the proper amount and ratio of omega-3 fatty acids. When such a diet is impractical, appropriate dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids is recommended.