Omega-3 and Omega-6 are polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids, also named fatty acids ω-3 or n -3, are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) made of a double bond distanced three atoms from the terminal methyl group in their chemical composition. They’re widely available in nature, as they’re essential components of the animal’s lipidic metabolism. The three types of Omega-3 acids are the alfa-linoleic acid (ALA, defined “essential fatty acid”, as the animals, including cats and dogs don’t produce it naturally and they must get it from their diet), available in vegetable oils, and the Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosanol acid (DHA) (these defined as “essentials”).
Omega-6 fatty acids, also called n-6 or ω−6 fatty acids, are polyunsaturated fatty acids of vegetable origins, having the first double bond C=C on the sixth Carbon atom counting from the end of the fatty acid, where the last atom is defined Carbon ω (omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet). Linoleic acid (18:2), the Omega-6 with a shorter chain, is an essential fatty acid.
Omega-3 acids have a structural role (incorporated in the cellular membrane), anti-inflammatory and anticlotting properties, and they help reduce excess triglycerides. It has a protective action on the cardiovascular and the cerebral system and improves cerebral functions. Studies on animals, shown that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduced inflammatory markers levels with reduced pain perception (useful in case of acute or chronic inflammation), cartilage degradation and oxidative stress; Omega-3 reduces the production of eicosanoids (prostaglandin, thromboxane, leukotrienes, and related metabolites), interleukins and other molecules involved in inflammatory reactions between leukocytes and endothelial cells. This is extremely useful to reduce inflammation and inappropriate immune responses (autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases).
Omega-3 is helpful to reduce itchiness and inflammation, by reducing the dryness of the skin, making it stronger and making the coat look shinier. It helps in strengthening the immune system and reducing the damage of the cartilage, the skin epithelium, and the intestinal epithelium.
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential as they’re precursors of keratinocytes (found in the skin) that have a protective function for the whole organism and the cellular membranes because they’re precursor of phospholipids that make the cellular membrane.
Furthermore, from Arachidonic Acid, a derivate of Linoleic Acid, there is the production of eicosanoids ( such as prostaglandin, prostacyclin, thromboxane and leukotriene), crucial molecules when it comes to inflammation, that is an important defensive process when not excessive or not useful for the organism(i.e. to fight infections or to heal wounds).
When we refer to Omega-3 and Omega-6, it’s essential to consider the interaction between them, rather than single quantities: a ratio of 3:1 of Omega-6 and Omega-3 is perfect to balance their powerful effects.