Fatty acids: The importance of fatty acids in the body

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 The value of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the human body 

How does an energy concentrate look? In human nutrition, fats represent the most concentrated source of energy, almost two times richer than carbohydrates. They include saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins soluble in them, and many other lipid compounds.

Energy Concentrate under a Magnifying Glass. Fats are compounds of glycerin (one such alcohol) and fatty acids. Regardless of whether the fat is of animal origin or vegetable, it represents a composition of various fatty acids of its kind. Their chemical structure follows one principle: all fatty acids are composed of coal molecules C and hydrogen H, which attach one or two oxygen molecules O to result in an organic acid called carboxylic acid (acid residue COOH).

Fatty acids acting in natural fats always contain an even number of coal atoms. Coal atoms are interconnected, as a rule, like pearls in beads.

 Saturated and unsaturated fats, but with what? 

In the discussion of the biological importance of nutrition for humans, two main groups of fatty acids play an essential role: saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

When hydrogen saturates all the compounds in the chain of coal molecules, such acid called saturated. For example, butyric acid:


In the case when two carbon atoms have a double bond (=), each of them must attach one less hydrogen molecule. Then it is said that these are monounsaturated fatty acids, for example, oleic acid (18: 1):

CH3 (CH2) 7CH = CH (CH2) 7COOH

There are also polyunsaturated fatty acids that have at least two double bonds, e.g. linoleic acid (C18: 2, Ω-6):

CH3 (CH2) 4CH = CHCH2CH = CH (CH2) 7COOH

 How to find small names for acids? 

The name of fatty acids includes first the number of carbon atoms C in the chain, which are part of the acid.

In the above example (linoleic acid), there are a total of 18 C atoms. In such designations, the number of double bonds indicated after the colon. In the above example, these are two bonds, so according to the abbreviated form of the description: 18: 2. Information about where the double bond located (counting from the left side) is called the position omega (Ω) or in the new nomenclature the letter “n” ( C18: 2, Ω-6 or C18: 2, n-6).

About omnipotent alpha and omega and why acids compete.

Above we studied the Ω-6 family, and below is the precursor of all fatty acids included in the Ω-3 family, with the full name α-linolenic acid. It has three unsaturated bonds:


α-linolenic acid (C18: 3 Ω-3)

In metabolic changes, linoleic acid (Ω-6) and α-linolenic acid (Ω-3) compete for the same digestive enzymes. Therefore, an excess of linoleic acid in the diet inhibits the synthesis of EPA and DHA acids (fatty acids that arose in the exchange of linoleic acid), increases the synthesis of arachidonic acid (AA).

This can upset the balance of physiological processes in the human body, leading to certain pathophysiological conditions. The content of acids from the Ω-3 family in food, especially EPA and DHA, prevents the excessive formation of arachidonic acid in the body, thereby inhibiting the intensity of changes leading to arachidonic acid AA.

 Polyunsaturated are full of fatty acid benefits. 

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are necessary for the proper development of young organisms, as well as maintaining a person’s good health. These acids belong to the family of Ω-6 and Ω-3.

. Linoleic acid (C18: 2, Ω-6) and the longer chain fatty acids arising from it in animal and human tissues from the family of Ω-6:

digomo-γ are attributed to them linolenic acid (DHGLA) (C20: 3, Ω -6)

arachidonic acid (AA) (C20: 4, Ω-6)

α-linoleic acid (C18: 3 Ω-3)

and family-related Ω -3

eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (C20: 5, Ω-3)

docosahexaenoic acid ( DHA) (C22: 6, Ω-3)

Twentagonal acids are substrates for the synthesis of eicosanoids, which include prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes, hydroxy-epoxy fatty acids and lipoxins in the metabolism.

 Eicosanoids – tissue hormones and their endless range of responsibilities 

Eicosanoids can be interpreted as the most external transfer elements of the first row, which at the cellular level, strengthen or weaken the regulatory activity of hormones and neurotransmitters — substrates for the synthesis of eicosanoids located in the phospholipids of the cell membrane.

In recent years, many facts have accumulated, indicating that eicosanoids show a vast spectrum of action.

Significantly affect the regulation of the cardiovascular system, oxygen saturation of tissues, and also have antiarrhythmogenic effects (reduce the risk of arrhythmias). They control the regulation of blood pressure, the balance of blood coagulation and fibrinolysis systems, as well as the stability of blood vessels. Regulate the content of lipoprotein, especially HDL, triglycerides and specific lipoprotein proteins.

They affect the adjustment of the endurance of the immunological system and inflammatory processes, proliferation (revival and reproduction) of cells, the activity of hormones and neurotransmitters, gene expression, as well as the activity of many organs, such as brain, kidneys, lungs and digestive tract, as well as a sensation of pain and many other physiological and biochemical processes.

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 An influential family of Ω-3 fatty acid 

It has been established that people who eat a large number of marine products containing fatty acids from the Ω-3 family are less likely to get sick with the so-called metabolic diseases of civilization characteristic of the population of industrially developed Western countries.

It found that they are less likely to suffer from atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer, as well as vascular thrombosis and asthma. The therapeutic effect of fish oil in experimental cerebral haemorrhage, as well as in myocardial infarction and psoriasis, was also revealed.

A lot of scientific data has been collected, indicating that fatty acids from the Ω-3 family have an excellent effect on the cardiovascular system. It has been established that fish oil exhibits a strong hypotensive effect (lowers blood pressure). Therefore it is recommended for arterial hypertension. It reduces the level of VLDL, triglycerides and serum cholesterol, especially total cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.

 Where do fatty acid families exist? 

Oil Ω-3 [%] Ω-6 [%]

Safflower 0 77

Sunflower 0 69

Corn 1 61

Soybean 7 54

Walnuts 5 51

sesame seeds 1 4

from peanuts 3 3

rapeseed (canola) 10 22

flaxseed 57 16

olive oil 1 8

Stress proportions

In the nutrition of our ancestors, the amount of omega-6 fatty acids was five times higher than omega-3. Currently, due to changes in the selection of food products and the method of processing products, these proportions have changed. They are 24: 1, and saturation of the body with omega-3 fatty acids is severe. Moreover, these are perishable products that decompose during heating.

Over the past 50 years, the consumption of fatty acids in Western countries has declined significantly. This influenced the decrease in the level of DHA (very, very essential omega-3 fatty acid) in the body. Higher consumption of omega-6 fatty acids is due to their presence in polyunsaturated oils and processed foods. We eat less fish, unprocessed grains and seeds, which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A

A general decrease in omega-3 acid intake leads to a deficiency of DHA, which threatens health, especially mental health.

Dr Joseph R. Hibbein and Dr Norman Salem of the National Institute of Health in an article published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that the rise in depression in North America over the past century should be associated with a steady decline DHA consumption.

The authors made this discovery in 1984 during a study of the relationship between low cholesterol nutrition and a frequently occurring depressive state in humans.

The explanation of this phenomenon was then tricky. More recent studies have found that people living off the coast abundantly eat fresh, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Meanwhile, people who live deep in the land rarely eat fish. It has also been discovered that the incidence of stress increases with distance from the coast.

There was only one conclusion: if there are fatty fish in the diet that contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, the body can more easily overcome stress .. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can also be taken in the form of supplements, two or four capsules (250 mg each are best) ) daily.


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