Essential Fatty Acids
What are they and why do we need them?
The role of lipids, including essential fatty acids and their prostaglandin, leukotriene and other derivatives, is now evident in almost all areas of biomedical science.
Cell membrane behavior and cell signaling in all tissues are highly dependent on the lipid constituents of cells.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA I.Q™ (60 CAPS)
What are essential fatty acids?
Scientists have given essential fats (a.k.a. essential fatty acids or EFA's) their name because the body must have them to survive, but cannot synthesize them from any other substance we eat, so a direct food source is required. Hence, the name essential.
There are many kinds of fats, but only two kinds of essential fats: omega 3 (n-3 or w3) and omega 6 (n-6 or w6), both of which are unsaturated fats.
Each EFA is turned into several derivatives by the body, provided enough n-3 and n-6, in the right ratio, and made with health in mind, are supplied.
All other fats, such as omega 9 (monounsaturated), omega 7, and saturated fat, are non-essential because the body can produce them from sugars and starches.
Where do Essential Fats come from?
Sources of n-3s are flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables.
The n-3 derivatives EPA and DHA are found in high fat, cold water fish such as albacore tuna, sardines, Atlantic halibut and salmon, coho, pink and king salmon, Pacific and Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel, and lake trout.
Small amounts of EPA and DHA n-3s are also found in oysters and other shellfish.
Fish is high in omega-3 fats and low in toxins, but just how healthy is all fish?
Click here for a list of healthy fish sources with their caloric and healthy fat content provided.
N-6 is found in sesame and sunflower seeds and other seeds and nuts. Land animal meats and fish are sources of the n-6 derivative arachidonic acid (AA).
The fish listed above are preferred sources of n-3 and n-6 derivatives, because they are the richest sources, and contain both, with more n-3s.
Why do women need essential fats?
Just as a member of a large family has many roles, essential fats serve many functions in the complex workings
of the human body.
Essential fats establish and maintain our health by:
- Increasing energy, performance, and stamina
- EFA's enhance thermo genesis, help build muscle, prevent muscle break down, and speed recovery from fatigue
- Strengthening the immune system
- EFA's make hormone-like eicosanoids that regulate immune and inflammatory responses
- N-3s have anti-inflammatory effects and can slow autoimmune damage
- Lowering risk factors for cardiovascular disease
- EFA's (especially n3s) lower abnormally high levels of blood pressure, triglycerides, Lp(a), fibrinogen, tendency to clot formation, and inflammation
- Improving brain function: mood, intelligence , behavior, and vision
- Our brain is over 60% fat. EFA's are important components of the entire nervous system
- They are necessary to make the neurotransmitter serotonin
- Depression and other brain diseases show decreased levels of n-3
- Aiding in weight reduction
- EFA's help keep mood and energy up and suppress appetite, thereby aiding in weight loss.
- More recently, they have been found to block the genes that produce fat in the body (saturated and trans fat do not have this same effect) and increase thermogenesis
- Regulating organs and glands
- Liver and kidneys, adrenal and thyroid glands, and the production of
male and female hormones need EFA's
- Speeding up the recovery and healing process
- EFA's are necessary for cell growth and division
- They form all cell membranes and regulate vital cell activity
- Supporting healthy child development
- For nervous system development, a growing fetus needs optimum EFA's from the mother's body.
- Mothers become depleted of EFA's during pregnancy, and need optimal EFA intake for their health and their children's optimum development
- Improving digestion
- Poorly digested foods tie up the immune system and can cause gut inflammation, leaky gut, and allergies
- N-3s improve gut integrity, and decrease inflammation and "leaky gut"
- Decreasing chance of infection
- EFA's have anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and anti-microbial properties, helping to protect against infections
- Keeping bones strong
- EFA's aid in the transport of minerals that keep bones and teeth strong, helping to prevent osteoporosis
- Protecting genetic material
- EFA's regulate gene expression, and n-3s inhibit tumor growth
- Easing PMS
- Studies indicate that n-6 (GLA) intake was voted, by women, among the top three most effective PMS treatments. N-3s may be even more effective
Producing beautiful skin, hair, and nails
- Some of the first signs of EFA deficiency are dry, flaky skin, dull hair, and brittle nails. N-3s can help skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne
- Also, GLA (n-6 derivative) administration is useful for some patients with atopic eczema
Healthy fats vs. Trans fatty acids,
Find out how to differentiate between the two, click here