Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids
What are essential fatty acids?
fatty acids are fatty acids that are needed for health but cannot be
synthesized in our body. They have to be obtained from diet. Essential
fatty acids are involved in many metabolic processes, including cell
energy production, transmission of nerve impulses, cellular signaling, etc.
They are also structural components of all cell membranes.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs
two families of EFAs: omega-3 EFA and omega-6 EFA. Omega-3 EFAs include
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA),
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-6 EFAs
include linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA).
Deficiency of essential fatty acids or improper balance of omega-3 and
omega-6 EFAs are associated with a wide range of diseases, such as chronic
inflammation, learning difficulty, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
of omega-6 EFAs is rare because they are abundant in meat and vegetable
oils. Too much omega-6 EFAs such as arachidonic acids can be detrimental
to health. Arachidonic acids (AA) are converted to inflammatory
eicosanoids like PGE2 and the 4-series of leukotrienes in our
compounds can induce inflammation and suppress the immune response.
the other hand, omega-3 EFAs such as ALA, EPA and DHA can inhibit the
production of PGE2 and 4-series leukotrienes. Although GLA
belongs to the family of omega-6 EFA, it works more like the omega-3 EFAs
to regulate inflammatory prostaglandins.
Why do you need EFA supplements?
Maintaining a proper ratio of
omega-3 and omega-6 EFA is essential to health. The modern Western diet
is often very high in omega-6 EFA with a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 at
about 1:20 and 1:30. To achieve a better balance, omega-3 EFA or GLA
supplements are sometimes needed. The most popular sources of omega-3 EFAs are
flaxseed oil and fish oil. Evening primrose oil is often used to
supplement gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids, so they are subject to
oxidation. Therefore, many commercial products contain vitamin E
which can reduce
oxidative damage. Cold pressed oils are preferred over chemical extracted
oils as they are free of chemical residues. When choosing fish oil, it is
important to ensure that the oil is free from heavy metals and chemical
Essential Fatty Acid Supplements