Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids which have a double bond (C=C) at the third carbon atom from the end of the carbon chain. It is a group of fatty acids which have the first unsaturated bond in the third position from the omega carbon.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are believed to prevent insulin resistance, reduce serum triglycerides, prolong bleeding times, improve lipid profile, decrease platelet adhesiveness, and reduce platelet counts.

Structure of Omega 3 Fatty Acid

The fatty acids have two ends, the carboxylic acid (-COOH) end, which is considered the beginning of the chain, thus “alpha”, and the methyl (CH3) end, which is considered the tail of the chain, thus “omega”.

The chemical names of Omega 3 Fatty Acids are Omega-3, Fatty Acids, N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid, Omega-3 Polyunsaturates. The molecular formula of Omega 3 Fatty Acid is C60H92O6 with molecular weight 909.39 g/mol.

Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acid

There are three types of omega 3 fatty acids that are involved in human physiology.

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which is found in marine oils.
  • ?-linolenic acid (ALA) found in plant oils.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is found in marine oils.

Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are often of marine origin. Marine algae and phytoplankton are the primary sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Sources of plant oils that contain omega 3 ALA fatty acid are:

  • Edible seeds
  • Walnut
  • Algal oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Clary sage seed oil
  • Echium oil
  • Sacha Inchi oil
  • Hemp oil

Sources of animal omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids are:

  • Egg oil
  • Fish oils
  • Krill oil
  • Squid oils

List of omega-3 fatty acids

The list of different names for the most common omega-3 fatty acids found in nature is mentioned below.

Common name       

Chemical name

Lipid name    

α-Linolenic acid (ALA) all-cis-9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid 18:3 (n-3)
Hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA) all-cis-7,10,13-hexadecatrienoic acid 16:3 (n-3)
Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE) all-cis-11,14,17-eicosatrienoic acid 20:3 (n-3)
Stearidonic acid (SDA) all-cis-6,9,12,15-octadecatetraenoic acid 18:4 (n-3)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) all-cis-5,8,11,14,17-eicosapentaenoic acid 20:5 (n-3)
Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA) all-cis-8,11,14,17-eicosatetraenoic acid 20:4 (n-3)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) all-cis-4,7,10,13,16,19-docosahexaenoic acid 22:6 (n-3)
Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA),

Clupanodonic acid

all-cis-7,10,13,16,19-docosapentaenoic acid 22:5 (n-3)
Tetracosahexaenoic acid (Nisinic acid) all-cis-6,9,12,15,18,21-tetracosahexaenoic acid 24:6 (n-3)
Tetracosapentaenoic acid all-cis-9,12,15,18,21-tetracosapentaenoic acid 24:5 (n-3)

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important. This acid all sorts of powerful health benefits for human body and brain. Some benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are mentioned below.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can fight depression and anxiety
  • It improves eye health
  • The fatty acid promote brain health during pregnancy and early life
  • It improves risk factors for heart disease
  • It can reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
  • Omega-3s can fight inflammation and fight autoimmune diseases
  • It helps to improve mental disorders
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can fight age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease
  • It can reduce asthma in children
  • Omega-3s helps to reduce fat in the liver

To know more about the properties and benefits of fatty acids stay tuned with Byju’s.


Practise This Question

Which of the following sets has strongest tendency to form anions?