Parent fatty acids refer to the essential fatty acids, omega-3 (ALA) and omega-6 (LA) from which the physiologically active long-chain fats are made.
Whilst supplement forms of the parent fats are often touted for health benefits, in fact, it is the long-chain fats that are physiologically ‘active’. Our diets frequently contain excessive LA, the omega-6 parent fat, relative to ALA, which leads to the production of highly inflammatory end products. Increasing ALA might seem to be the answer, to balance our intake of LA but only 6-8% (of ALA) is converted to long-chain omega-3 EPA and even less to DHA. Providing pre-formed EPA and DHA (from marine sources) is the simplest and most effective way of supporting our omega-3 requirements (unless you are vegetarian: see question above on options).
Consuming preformed omega-3 seems the most sensible way to address long-chain omega-3 deficiencies and support optimal health. It may be wise to reduce your intake of LA by avoiding common vegetable oils and choosing to consume meat and dairy from animals that have been naturally grass fed rather than grain fed. You can find information on how to check your fatty acid status here: Opti-O-3 fatty acid biomarker test.
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