The present dietary supplement market offers multiple possibilities of completing everyday menu with various, sometimes unnecessary, substances. Apart from many useless products, there are also very useful for routine supplementation ones. There is a group of products, which often contain scarce components of our diet, such as long-chained fatty acids from the omega-3 group and vitamin D.

The supplement pressure

Highly-processed food available in shops nowadays is not very rich in components crucial for our health. Instead of that it is rich in refined carbohydrates and fats, which are only energetic material. As a result, when basing on such type of food, it's very easy to lead to a situation when there is excessive amount of energy in diet and we are exposed to the insufficiency of nutrients. This fact is often used by the producers of dietary supplements who encourage us to buy products supplying “crucial components”, which “nourish our bodies from inside”.

We are often invited to buy products, which contain vitamins, minerals, particular fatty acids or fibre, as well as various plant extracts, antioxidants, sterols, phospholipids, amino acids and many others. In practice, majority of those substances doesn't need to be supplemented, but there are also components, in case of which additional supply may be justified for significant part of our population. I mean, most of all, such components as:

  • fatty acids from the omega 3 group,

  • vitamin D.

Fatty acids omega 3 – basic information

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) belongs to the group of fatty acids, just like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All of the mentioned lipids belong to the group of polyunsaturated acids (polyene acids), in case of which the last double bound in the carbon chain is by the last but two carbon atom (therefore, the name “omega 3). As long as the ALA acid is not so hard to find in diet – because it is present in linseed, walnuts and some kinds of oil, providing proper supply of EPA and DHA acids is sometimes difficult. Their only sensible source is fatty fish and some seaweed.

Various sides of omega 3

Despite the fact that only ALA acid is considered to be indispensable, and the EPA and DHA acids may be created out of it in the processes of desaturation and elongation, in practice that conversion is not so efficient. It means that even with relatively high intake of alpha-linolenic acid, we can be exposed to low availability of its long-chained derivatives. Whereas, out of the EPA and DHA acids eicosanoids with antiinflammatory and antiplatelet properties, are formed.