Polyunsaturated fatty acids (other names PUFA, vitamin F) are a group of lipids whose molecules contain two or more double bonds. The main representatives of the compounds are omega-3 (docosahexaenoic, alpha-linolenic, eicosapentaenoic acids) and omega-6 (arachidonic, linoleic acids).
Polyunsaturated fats improve the rheological characteristics of blood, lower cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels, protect lipids of cell membranes from oxidation and reactive hyperinsulinemia.
Benefit and harm
The main function of PUFA is to maintain the functioning of cell membranes, the myelin sheaths of organs, transmembrane ion channels, connective tissue. Once in the body, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids are incorporated into the phospholipid cell layer, improving their functional properties (enzymatic activity, shell viscosity, permeability, electrical excitability).
Other useful properties of PUFA:
- inhibit the synthesis of lipoproteins and triglycerides in hepatocytes, regulating fat metabolism (lipid-lowering action);
- give the cell membrane “fluidity”, preventing heart rhythm disturbances (antiarrhythmogenic effect);
- regulate the content of serotonin in the brain (antidepressant effect);
- increase the sensitivity of insulin receptors, preventing the development of insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes);
- dissolve exogenous deposits on the walls of blood vessels (hypocholesteremic effect);
- normalize hormones, improving the course of premenstrual and menopausal syndromes (estrogenic effect);
- potentiate the synthesis of substances (prostaglandins) that suppress autoimmune, atopic and inflammatory processes in the body (anti-inflammatory action);
- reduce platelet aggregation, leading to improved rheological blood parameters (antiagregatnoe effect);
- participate in the construction of the myelin sheaths of the brain (as a structural element), improving attentiveness, memory, psychomotor coordination;
- regulate the vascular tone of the capillaries, normalizing blood pressure (hypotensive effect);
- prevent the entry of foreign agents into the body;
- reduce the synthesis of inflammatory mediators (due to embedding in the phospholipid layer of cells);
- improve the functional state of nails, skin, hair;
- participate in the metabolism of B vitamins (thiamine and pyridoxine).
Vitamin F is not synthesized by the intestinal microflora, so it must be ingested daily with food or vitamin-mineral complexes.
The daily rate of PUFA varies in the range of 10 – 15 grams.
Considering that essential fats compete in the body, the optimal ratio of lipids such as omega-6 to omega-3 is 6: 1. Otherwise, disrupted triglyceride synthesis. The physiological need for omega-6 is 8 – 10 grams per day, in omega-3 does not exceed 1 – 2 grams.
The amount of polyunsaturated acids in the diet should be increased in the following cases:
- during intensive sports activities (physical labor);
- during periods of pregnancy and lactation;
- in autoimmune diseases, pancreatic dysfunction (diabetes), skin rashes, prostatitis;
- in advanced (55 – 85 years) and childhood (0 – 12 years);
- when living in the northern regions;
- during the cold season.
Interestingly, lipid deficiency of omega-6 in the human body is extremely rare, in contrast to PUFAs such as omega 3. Consider how the last group of lipids is manifested.
Signs of a lack of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in the daily menu:
- dry skin, including psoriasis, eczema;
- lack of coordination;
- deterioration of vision;
- growth retardation (in children);
- reduced cognitive functions, including learning ability;
- weakness in the body;
- numbness or tingling of the limbs;
- increased blood pressure;
- mood swings;
- craving for alcoholic beverages;
- depressive conditions;
- nail exfoliation;
- hair loss.
Prolonged deficiency of essential lipids leads to the occurrence of autoimmune diseases, thrombosis, nervous disorders, cardiovascular pathologies. In severe cases, schizophrenia develops.
However, excessive intake of polyunsaturated fats, in particular omega-6, against the background of low consumption of omega-3, leads to increased development of inflammatory processes, narrowing of the lumen of blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing systemic diseases, oncology, diabetes, stroke, coronary insufficiency, depressive conditions. Therefore, strictly control the amount of PUFA intake per day.
Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats are common natural compounds found in virtually all nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. The main sources of omega-3 are fish (fatty varieties), seafood, linseed oil. Consider which products contain PUFAs.
Table No. 1 “Natural Sources of Essential Fatty Acids”
|The name of the fresh product (without processing)||The content of ω-3 in 100 grams of ingredient, grams||The content of ω-6 in 100 grams of ingredient, grams|
|Oil of a walnut||10||53|
|Soybean oil||6 -7||45-50|
|Cod liver oil||20||0,95|
|Caviar black, red||7||0,08|
|Seeds of chia||17,5||5,8|
|Chicken egg (raw)||0,1||1,6|
To increase the bioavailability of fatty acids, the daily menu is enriched with foods that contain vitamin E and dihydroquercetin (Q 10).
PUFA during pregnancy
Polyunsaturated lipids are essential nutrients for expectant mothers, because they reduce the risk of developing premature births and facilitate the manifestation of toxicosis. In addition, the elements are “responsible” for the formation of the peripheral nervous system in a growing embryo. Considering that fats make up 70% of the retina and 30 – 40% of brain lipids, vitamin F controls the ontogenesis of the optic apparatus and the brain in the developing fetus.
During pregnancy, the mother “gives away” a gram of PUFA to the child 2,5, therefore the daily need for essential fats increases 2 times. The daily intake of vitamin F for women “in position” is 15 grams (omega-3 – 2 grams, omega-6 – 13 grams).
Other effects of taking PUFA during pregnancy:
- Potentiate the release of prostaglandins and eicosanoids, which improve the immune status of the child.
- Participate in the mechanisms of the embryo’s cardiovascular system.
- “Control” the proper formation, maturation and functioning of the placenta (metabolism and blood supply).
- Prolong the period of pregnancy.
- They prevent the development of toxicosis in the third trimester (gestosis).
- Prevent the development of thrombophilic disorders, and as a result, placental insufficiency.
- Reduced 50% chance of developing postpartum depression.
- Increases the tolerance of the birth act by the embryo.
To fill the daily need for fats, linseed or camelina oil, nuts, fish, vegetables, fruits are introduced into the daily menu. However, a balanced diet, in 90% of cases, does not cover the daily norm in the substance. Therefore, it is advisable for future mothers to use biologically active complexes, which include acids such as omega-3.
Consider the list of drugs containing essential fats:
- Premium Omega-3 fish oil (Madre Labs, USA). 1 capsules contain 180 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid, 120 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid, and 1000 milligrams of fish oil.
- Rx Factors omega-3 (Natural Factors, USA). The drug contains fish oil (1170 milligrams in 1 pills) and ω-3 polyunsaturated fat concentrate (in the 1 capsule – 600 milligrams).
- Novomegin (Art-Life, Russia). The biocomplex consists of a concentrate of polyunsaturated lipids omega-3 (150 milligrams per 1 capsule), linseed oil (200 milligrams per dragee), lipoic acid, vitamin E, dihydroquercetin, organic selenium.
- Prenatal DHA (Nordic Naturals, USA). Organic pills include: eicosapentaenoic acid (102, 5 milligram), docosahexaenoic acid (220 milligram), cholecalciferol (200 IU), fish oil (500 milligram).
- Omega-3 (Solgar, USA). The composition of the dietary supplement includes a concentrate of polyunsaturated fats extracted from the muscles of cold-water fish of the northern seas. The 1 capsule contains 900 milligrams of omega-3, 1500 milligrams of fish oil.
To normalize the psycho-emotional background of a woman during pregnancy, along with taking these complexes, it is advisable to drink 15 milliliters of flaxseed oil per day.
Thus, polyunsaturated fats – essential micronutrients that support the functionality of cell membranes, prevent the formation of inflammation, stimulate the activity of the immune system, normalize the tone of blood vessels.
Given that omega-3 alleviates the inflammatory effect of omega-6, the optimal ratio of the first lipids to the second should be 1: 6.
Natural sources of vitamin F – flaxseed oil, seed, oily fish, nuts (raw). In addition to eating foods rich in fats, in some cases it is advisable to use vitamin complexes containing omega-3. So, taking “lipid” supplements before conceiving will help fill the lack of PUFAs in a woman’s body, as a result of which the probability of fertilizing an egg will double. In addition, for the full formation of the growing embryo, it is important for the expectant mother to use at least 1 – 2 milligrams of essential lipids omega-3 per day.