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Gerber Omega 5 63

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Gerber Omega 5 63

The two major classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Like all fatty acids, PUFAs consist of long chains of carbon atoms with a carboxyl group at one end of the chain and a methyl group at the other. PUFAs are distinguished from saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids by the presence of two or more double bonds between carbons within the fatty acid chain.

ALA is present in plant oils, such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils [3]. DHA and EPA are present in fish, fish oils, and krill oils, but they are originally synthesized by microalgae, not by the fish. When fish consume phytoplankton that consumed microalgae, they accumulate the omega-3s in their tissues [3].

Omega-3s play important roles in the body as components of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes [5]. DHA, in particular, is especially high in the retina, brain, and sperm [3,5,6]. In addition to their structural role in cell membranes, omega-3s (along with omega-6s) provide energy for the body and are used to form eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are signaling molecules that have similar chemical structures to the fatty acids from which they are derived; they have wide-ranging functions in the body's cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems [1,2].

The eicosanoids made from omega-6s are generally more potent mediators of inflammation, vasoconstriction, and platelet aggregation than those made from omega-3s, although there are some exceptions [3,7]. Because both classes of fatty acids compete for the same desaturation enzymes, ALA is a competitive inhibitor of linoleic acid metabolism and vice versa [8]. Similarly, EPA and DHA can compete with arachidonic acid for the synthesis of eicosanoids. Thus, higher concentrations of EPA and DHA than arachidonic acid tip the eicosanoid balance toward less inflammatory activity [9].

Table 1 lists the current AIs for omega-3s in grams per day. Human milk contains omega-3s as ALA, EPA and DHA, so the IOM established an AI for infants from birth to 12 months that is equivalent to the mean intake of omega-3s in healthy, breastfed infants.

For infants, the AIs apply to total omega-3s. For ages 1 and older, the AIs apply only to ALA because ALA is the only omega-3 that is essential. The IOM did not establish specific intake recommendations for EPA, DHA or other LC omega-3s.

Some foods, such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages, are fortified with DHA and other omega-3s. Since 2002, manufacturers have added DHA and arachidonic acid (the two most prevalent LC PUFAs in the brain) to most infant formulas available in the United States [28].

Several food sources of ALA, DHA, and/or EPA are listed in Table 2. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a Daily Value (DV) of 65 g for total fat but not for omega-3s. Thus, Table 2 presents the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in grams per serving only and not the percent of the DV.

Dietary SupplementsLC omega-3s are present in several dietary supplement formulations, including fish oil, krill oil, cod liver oil, and vegetarian products that contain algal oil. A typical fish oil supplement provides about 1,000 mg fish oil, containing 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA, but doses vary widely [30]. Cod liver oil supplements provide vitamin A and vitamin D in addition to LC omega-3s. Although seafood contains varying levels of methyl mercury (a toxic heavy metal) [31], omega-3 supplements have not been found to contain this contaminant because it is removed during processing and purification [32].

Dietary supplements can contain several different forms of omega-3s, including natural triglycerides, free fatty acids, ethyl esters, re-esterified triglycerides, and phospholipids [32-34]. Natural triglycerides are the form that occur naturally in fish oil, whereas ethyl esters are synthesized from natural triglycerides by replacement of the glycerol molecule of


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