Omega-3 and Omega-6 are fatty acids are two types of unsaturated fatty acids known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). That means, they cannot be produced by the body, and must be obtained from specific food sources.
Omega-3 (or fish oils) can be found in prey fish, like sardines, and in many predatory fish, such as mackerel, tuna and salmon. However, many predatory fish can accumulate and retain toxins from their pray. Therefore, be cautious of how much fish you consume and where it comes from. Common sources of Omega-6 fatty acids are eggs, poultry (grain-fed), nuts, vegetable oils, sunflower oil, safflower oil, whole grains, flax seed (oil) and the acai berry. EFAs have numerous health benefit, which include: stimulation of blood circulation; reduced blood pressure; reduced risk of heart attack; arthritis relief; treatment and prevention of depression, anxiety and ADHD; improved immune function; and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, just to name a few.
Omega-3 deficiencies are more common than Omega-6 deficiencies, and may result in fatigue, dry and/or itchy skin, brittle hair and nails, constipation, depression, frequent colds, poor concentration, lack of physical endurance and joint pain.
In many parts of the world fish is a staple in most people's diets. The positive effects of Omega-3 oils can been seen in these parts where the instances of hearth disease, diabetes, stroke, asthma and depression are much lower than in North America. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Eat your fish. It's healthy and tastes great.
If you do not like fish (what's there not to like?), supplementation with flax seed oil is an excellent way to get Omega-3s. Most health professionals recommend an intake of 1-3 grams of Omega-3 and 4-12 grams of Omega-6 daily.
A third fatty acid, called Omega-9, is an important, yet non-essential fatty acid. Omega-9 can be produced by the body from unsaturated fats, such as some animal fats and vegetable oils (i.e. Olive Oil). Omega-9 fatty acids fats are still vary important as they are used by the body to fight inflammation, to reduce atherosclerosis, help balance blood sugar and strengthen the immune system.
So whether it's one fish, two fish, red fish or blue fish - make sure that you are getting your EFA's to stay healthy and live long.