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Monday, 09th July 2018
General Health
Dr. Ahmed Zayed

What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?

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Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) required by the body for maintaining a normal metabolism. The term “polyunsaturated” signifies that this fatty acid contains more than one cis double bond in its molecular structure. The “three” in the nomenclature comes from the fact that the first double bond in this fatty acid is located on the third carbon atom from the end of the organic carbon chain forming the molecule.

The double bond is a double edged sword to the function of these fatty acids. On one hand, it makes the entire fatty acid structure more fluid and adaptable. On the other hand, the double bond also decreases* the molecule’s overall resilience, allowing most of them to get easily oxidized.

The prototype Omega3 (also written as w-3 or n-3) fatty acid molecule contains two ends. The carboxylic acid end containing the -COOH is referred to as the “alpha” end. The methyl (-CH3) tail end forms the “Omega” end that lends its name to the fatty acid itself.

There are three different types of these fatty acids that are required by the human body, namely alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. The consumption of each one of these is essential for a healthy, disease free lifestyle. Let’s look at these in detail.

Alpha Linolenic Acid, commonly abbreviated as ALA, is an 18 carbon long carboxylic acid with three cis double bonds throughout the chain. The scientific name of this essential Omega 3 fatty acid is all-cis-9,12,15-octadectrenoic acid. It is an isomer (compound with same molecular content but the different structural arrangement of the atoms) of Gamma-Linolenic Acid, an Omega-6 fatty acid .

First isolated by Roulette in the early 1900’s, this compound is known to play an important role in metabolism. It cannot be produced endogenously in the body itself because of the absence of essential enzymes that catalyze the conversion of stearic acid to ALA, unlike the other two essential Omega-3 acids. ALA must be obtained from one’s diet.

The metabolic role of ALA in the body can be broken down into two major categories. The major role of dietary ALA is its use in the human body as an energy source, with as much as 85% of the consumed ALA being used strictly for providing energy to cells and different processes. The second role of ALA is its use as a building block for the endogenous formation of the other two n-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. It is important to note that an ample dietary consumption of the two longer Omega3 fatty acids is essential because their synthesis in the body from ALA holds a very low efficacy.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid is an unstable compound prone to spontaneous oxidation. Its oxidative instability and tendency to quickly go rancid is one of the reasons ALA in commercially produced oils is partially hydrogenated to prolong its shelf life. However, the hydrogenation converts part of the Omega 3 into unhealthy Trans fat, which consumers are increasingly avoiding. A ban on the presence of Trans fats in certain commercially produced ALA sources such as soybean oil has spurred the production of a soybean variant that contains ALA less susceptible to oxidation.

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It can take some time before an accurate diagnosis is made. Some symptoms may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or wheat intolerance, while others may be put down to stress or getting older. There are a range of symptoms associated with coeliac disease.

To make it easier to understand if your symptoms are possibly due to coeliac disease and discuss further testing with your GP, we have developed a self assessment test to make it easier to take that first step to diagnosis. See below for guidance on the stages of diagnosis.

Stages of diagnosis

1 . Understand the symptoms - Check if you have the symptoms of coeliac disease here. Do not remove gluten from your diet at this stage .

2.Check for coeliac disease - If you have some of the symptoms listed, take our online assessment which is a short questionnaire on the symptoms and other risk factors. If the test result is positive, you can print it out and take to your GP for further discussion. Take the assessment now . If you’d rather just discuss your symptoms with your GP, then make sure to book an appointment. Do not remove gluten from your diet at this stage .

3. Have a blood test - If your GP thinks you need further testing, they will take a simple blood test to check for antibodies . These can indicate coeliac disease. However, it’s possible to have a negative test and yet still have coeliac disease. Do not remove gluten from your diet at this stage .

4. Gut biopsy - I f the blood test is positive or there is clinical suspicion of coeliac disease y our GP will then refer you to a gut specialist (a gastroenterologist) for a gut biopsy. Do not remove gluten from your diet until the biopsy has been done .

If you test positive for coeliac disease, we have lots of information on how to manage your condition .

There are home testing kits for coeliac disease available over the counter or online. However, it is important to get medically diagnosed with coeliac disease.

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page for more information on diagnosing children with coeliac disease.

Keep eating gluten throughout the diagnosis process

If you think you may have coeliac disease, it’s essential to continue eating gluten until your doctor makes a diagnosis.

The diagnostic tests for coeliac disease look at how the body responds to gluten. Some people may start to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet because they feel ill. Unfortunately this is very likely to cause an inaccurate result for both the blood test and the gut biopsy. Therefore, it’s very important to keep eating gluten throughout the diagnosis process.

If you've already reduced or eliminated gluten from your diet, you will need to reintroduce it to make sure you get the most accurate test results. While it may be difficult and uncomfortable, it’s essential for your long term health.

As a general guideline, the recommendation is to eat some gluten in more than one meal every day for at least six weeks before testing.

For children,you can mix wheat flour into foods such as yoghurt or baked beans to add more gluten into their diet.

If you are reintroducing gluten into your diet, you should discuss how best to manage your symptoms with your GP. Your GP will be able to arrange for you to be tested for coeliac disease as soon as it is appropriate.

We understand how hard it is to get diagnosed if you have started a gluten-free diet. Getting a medical diagnosis, however, is important to ensure you get the medical follow up and support that is recommended for people with coeliac disease. Unfortunately, there are no other tests that can diagnose coeliac disease other than the antibody blood test and the gut biopsy. These tests depend on people eating gluten.

See our coeliac disease in children page for more information on diagnosing coeliac disease and follow up care in children.

Norma McGough, Coeliac UK's Director of Policy, Research and Campaigns, discusses why gluten must be in the diet throughout the diagnosis process for coeliac disease:

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Nation World National politics
Associated Press

Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Amul Thapar.

Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Amul Thapar.

(Associated Press)
Catherine Lucey, Ken Thomas and Anne Flaherty Associated Press

President Donald Trump spoke with three more potential Supreme Court candidates on Tuesday as a key senator privately aired concerns about one of the contenders.

That follows four Trump interviews with judicial candidates a day earlier, as well as a conversation with Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who is not regarded as a top contender. An administration official said Trump had spoken to seven candidates in total.

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"These are very talented people, brilliant people," Trump said during an appearance in West Virginia. "We're going to give you a great one."

With trademark flair, Trump has said he'll announce his pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday, choosing from a list of 25 candidates vetted by conservative groups. Top contenders include federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Trump has also been consulting with lawmakers — including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has expressed reservations about Kavanaugh's candidacy, according to a person familiar with the call.

Paul has told colleagues that he wouldn't vote in favor of Kavanaugh if the judge is nominated, citing Kavanaugh's role during the Bush administration on cases involving executive privilege and the disclosure of documents to Congress.

Trump's choice to replace Kennedy — a swing vote on the nine-member court — has the potential to be part of precedent-shattering court decisions on abortion, health care, gay marriage and other issues.

On Monday, Trump interviewed Kethledge, Thapar, Kavanaugh and Barrett, according to a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.

The White House did not disclose Trump's additional conversations, but two other names considered top contenders are Thomas Hardiman, who has served with Trump's sister, now on senior inactive status, on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia; and Joan Larsen, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati and previously served as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice.

The president also spoke by phone with Lee on Monday, as first reported by the Deseret News and later confirmed by the senator's office, which characterized it as an interview. Asked about the call, White House spokesman Raj Shah said only, "Yesterday, the President spoke on the phone with Sen. Mike Lee." Lee is the only lawmaker on Trump's list of potential justices.

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