Essential Fatty Acids – Benefits and Uses Overview
Essential fatty acids, sometimes abbreviated to EFAs, are essential to the diet because the body needs EFAs for health and they cannot be produced within the human body. Previously, essential fatty acids were called “Vitamin F.” However, further research determined that these compounds were better categorized as fats than as vitamins.
Essential Fatty Acid Categories
There are two primary categories of essential fatty acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6. All EFAs are in one of these two groups based on their chemical structure. Both types of EFAs are important to health and one cannot take the place of the other.
Essential Fatty Acids Benefits
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Used for overall cellular health. Omega-3 fatty acids make cells flexible, which helps increase their resilience. Omega-3 fatty acids also may be used for skin cell health and improve the appearance of skin. These acids are also important for memory, circulation, vision, blood clot dissolution, nervous system health, blood pressure, hormonal health, and cholesterol control. The Omega-3 fatty acids are probably responsible for krill oil’s positive effect on behavior. Research has concluded that people with low levels of essential fatty acids tend to have worse behavior than people with adequate levels.
- Omega-6 essential fatty acids: Have different but equally important health benefits. Omega-6 fatty acids have been used to treat diabetic neuropathy, skin disorders, and arthritis. While Omega-3 fatty acids help to balance hormones, particularly in menopausal women, Omega-6 fatty acids play a more prominent role in hormone production.
- Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA): An isomer of the Omega fatty acids, ALA is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been used successfully to treat nerve pain. ALA can be found in chia seeds, flaxseed oil, soybeans, and other natural sources.
Essential Fatty Acid Requirements
It is suggested that the average adult consume 1.5 grams of each essential fatty acid daily. However, there is a particular balance between the two types of essential fatty acids which should be observed. The typical American diet is high in Omega-6 fatty acids and is nutritionally deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids. The goal is to consume equal amounts of these fatty acids, which may mean that you have to consume more Omega-3 and less Omega-6.
Essential Fatty Acids Sources
- Cod liver oil: Cod liver oil is a rich source of the essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Northern fishermen historically used cod liver oil to protect them from the intense cold of the winters and as a treatment of rickets. More current uses of cod liver oil include the treatment of stiff joints, sore muscles, and rheumatism. Research has shown that cold liver oil and its essential fatty acids increase circulation.
- English walnut: English walnut is a good plant-based source of essential fatty acids, and walnuts also contain other constituents that increase their usefulness for cardiovascular health. Walnuts can be considered a Super Food because they are loaded with nutrients that benefit the entire body. English walnuts are considered a medicinal and healthful snack for those with diabetes because they may aid in insulin acceptance in the body. English walnuts are also rich in antioxidants, which may prevent conditions like cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis.
- Flaxseed: Flaxseed is another excellent source of essential fatty acids. It was originally believed that fish were the best sources of essential fatty acids. However, flaxseed contains twice as much Omega-3 fatty acids as most fish products, including fish oils—and without the fish taste. Flaxseed has other alternative medicine uses and has been used to treat dry cough, colds, urinary tract disorders, skin inflammation, digestive problems, and constipation. Flaxseed is sometimes sold as flaxseed oil, which is the oily substance extracted from the seeds.
- Halibut liver oil: Like cod liver oil, halibut liver oil is fish oil that is high in essential fatty acids. Halibut liver oil is also a good source for Vitamin A and Vitamin D, which the body uses to build healthy bones, teeth, gums, skin and hair.
- Krill oil: Krill oil is a supplement made of krill—a tiny form of seafood—that is popular because it’s a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Krill also contains carotenoids. It is sometimes recommended for cardiovascular health and to treat depression, premenstrual syndrome, bi-polar disorder and ADHD. Krill may boost your brain power by supplying needed fatty acids. Krill is full of calcium that may help increase bone density and improve nervous system function. Essential fatty acids found in krill oil may inhibit cancer, especially breast cancer and colon cancer. It may reduce symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats, hot flashes, moodiness, and forgetfulness and reduce sensitivity to light, which can be helpful in treating those whose migraines are triggered by sun exposure. But while krill is a useful supplement for human beings, but our need for krill oil may be depleting the ocean reserves of these tiny creatures, and they play a vital role in the ecosystem of almost every ocean. It has not yet been determined if krill are being overfished, because of the complexity of their role in the food chain. Beware of fish allergies and the possible risks and health threats before you attempt to take krill oil supplements.
- Evening primrose oil: Evening primrose oil comes from seeds of the Oenothera biennis plant and is the best source for GLA, or gamma linolenic acid, available today. Evening primrose oil has the highest concentration of GLA, which is an Omega-6 fatty acid said to relieve headaches and PMS pains, treat depression, reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve heart health, treat multiple sclerosis, improve weight loss, decrease acne, nourish the scalp and nails with EFAs, decrease inflammation, and improve prostate health. Other conditions that may benefit from evening primrose oil include eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and breast cancer. But because it is important to balance the amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils you consume, consider your diet carefully with the help of a nutritionist before supplementing with Omega 6.
The information on this site it intended for general inquiry and informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you, or those under your care, are ill or in need of health care, please seek immediate medical attention. Always consult a doctor or other competent licensed clinical for specific advice about medical treatments for yourself or those under your care. Any use of, or reliance in any way upon, the information contained in the AlternativZ site and/or accessed through this site is solely at your own risk.
Please Leave a Comment, Your Thoughts are Welcome.
You Must Log In or Resister to Post a Comment.