Table 1. Types, composition, and sources of common dietary fatty acids and recommendations for intake.
Type and Examples of Fatty Acids Number of Carbon Atoms Sources of Fatty Acids Suggested Intakes
Medium-chain triacylglycerols (e.g. lauric acid: C12) 6-12 Medical nutrition formulas, dietary supplements; derived from tropical oils
Stearic 16 Animal fat, palm oil
18 Animal fat, cocoa butter
Oleic (cis form) 18 Olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil
Elaidic Trans (form) 18 Some margarines, hydrogenated fats/oils (many processed foods)
Linoleic (omega-6)* 18 Cakes, cookies, pastries, corn oil, soybean oil (~most vegetable oils)
Conjugated linoleic acid 18 Beef, lamb, dairy products, dietary supplements
Linolenic (omega-3)* 18 Walnuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil (some)
Gamma-linolenic acid 18 Evening primrose, borage, and black currant plants/oils or dietary supplements, produced in body with use of other EFA’s
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA; omega-3) 20 Salmon, herring, sardines, dietary supplements
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA; omega-3) 22 Salmon, herring, sardines, dietary supplements
*Signifies an essential fatty acid (EFA)
† ↑ consume more of; ↓ consumer less of; ↕ debatable (1, 2, 3); ↔ no need to add to diet (4).