Even though EPA, DHA, and ALA are all long-chain PUFAs, ALA is the shortest of the 3. To get a little bit extra science-y, EPA has 20 carbons and double bonds, DHA has 22 carbons and 6 double bonds, and ALA has 18 carbons and 3 double bonds. As those chemical variations point out, they’re 3 distinctive fat with distinctive roles in our physiological well being and wellness.
Any other distinction is availability. ALA is prevalent in our diets and located in ample quantities in lots of vegetation—together with flaxseed, canola oil, olive oil, walnuts, and different tree nuts, consistent with Chip Lavie, M.D., FACC, FACP, FCCP, clinical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at Ochsner Well being.
By contrast, EPA and DHA don’t seem to be extensively discovered within the meals provide, nor are those marine omega-3s extensively ate up through American citizens. And because just a small quantity of ALA is transformed to EPA and DHA, we are missing those PUFA MVPs that paintings additional time for our center, mind, redox steadiness, and extra.* “Making EPA and DHA from ALA is imaginable however very inefficient, and attaining optimum omega-3 index ranges is just about not possible with most effective ALA,” says Harris.