What factors might contribute to a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids?
The conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA involves a series of chemical reactions. One of the first reactions in this series is catalyzed by the enzyme delta-6 desaturase. Further down the line is a reaction that is catalyzed by the enzyme delta-5 desaturase. Unfortunately, it is now well-known that these enzymes do not function optimally in many people, and, consequently, only a small amount of the alpha-linolenic acid consumed in the diet is converted to EPA, DHA, and ultimately to the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
To increase the activity of your desaturase enzymes, be sure that your diet includes a sufficient amount of vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. In addition, limit your intake of saturated fat and partially hydrogenated fat, as these fats are known to decrease the activity of delta-6 desaturase. Also, to be on the safe side, consider including a direct source of EPA and DHA if your diet, such as wild-caught salmon, halibut, or tuna.
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