I know that Omega 3s are essential fatty acids and you need to supplement with fish oil. I Googled omega 3s and Wikipedia states that ALA (Alpha linolenic acid) is also an essential fatty acid. I know that ALA is the short chain fatty acid "pre-curser" for epa and dha but also has a very low conversion rate. I also know that all the research of the benefits of Omega 3s focus on DHA and EPA. That all being said if I consume an adequate amount of the long chain omega 3s DHA and EPA would ALA still be essential in the diet for reasons other than converting into DHA and EPA or could I simply ignore walnuts and flax seeds?
I eat pastured egg yolks and meat as my only sources of PUFAs...
Here is an article with regards to PUFAs:
Current reviews and textbooks call the omega-6 linoleic acid and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid "essential fatty acids" (EFA) and cite the EFA requirement as one to four percent of calories. Research suggests, however, that the omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA) and the omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the only fatty acids that are truly essential.
People think that ALA = plant source and DHA/EPA = aminal source. That is wrong.
ALA is the type of omega 3 that is predominant in grass fed beef fat. Thus, there is no reason to think that our early ancestors didn't consume plenty of ALA, probably in addition to the longer chain fatty acids too.
One advantage that ALA has over DHA and EPA is that it is relatively less prone to oxidation. In general, the longer chain PUFAs are more prone to oxidation than the short chain "precursors."
But, don't put a lot of stock in any mechanistic argument, including the one I just gave for ALA, because we are all operating with a lack of perfect knowledge. The best approach is to just simulate conditions that are natural - that's the whole point of paleo anyway. All this to say, get your omega 3s from real food (like wild caught salmon, grass fed beef/butter, pastured eggs, and some plant sources too).
I posted an comprehensive reply on this question in this thread: