Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) found in the seeds of plants and the oils of cold water fish, are vital nutrients that our bodies need for various critical functions. They cannot be synthesized by the body and must be supplied by the diet.
A fatty acid is considered essential if: 1) It cannot be synthesized by the body; 2) It can only be obtained through the diet, and; 3) A deficiency will result in disease. There are basically three essential fatty acids. They are:
- Linoleic Acid – The most important. Must be obtained from the diet.
- Linolenic Acid – Can be synthesized from Linoleic Acid.
- Arachidonic Acid – Can be synthesized from Linoleic Acid.
The vital functions of EFA’s include: ? Lowering Triglycerides ? Eradicating Plaque from arterial walls ? Lowering Blood Pressure ? Altering the production of leukotrines, which aggravate inflammation in the body. ? Along with proteins and cholesterol, constructing bodily membranes. ? Adding strength and integrity to cell and capillary structures. ? Prolonging Blood Clotting time, which enhances healing. ? Assisting in the manufacture of haemoglobin. ? Assisting in the production of cholesterol, whilst at the same time helping to remove excess cholesterol. ? Preventing the growth of bacteria and viruses via the oxygenation of bodily tissues. ? Via the Oxygenation of cell membranes, improved endurance, better sleep- wake cycles, greater metabolic efficiency and higher disease tolerance. ? Assisting in the functions of glands and organs. ? Assisting in the function of hormones. ? Nourishing Skin, hair and nails via oxygenation and the delivery of fat-soluble vitamins A and E. ? Increasing the rate of fat metabolism in the body. ? Maintenance of proper temperature. ? Assist in the production of electrical currents, vital for a stable heart beat. ? Precursors to the production of Prostoglandins. Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA) is particularly active in this area. Prostoglandins are present in almost all body cells and act as catalysts for many physiological processes. They prevent abnormal blood clotting and nerve inflammation and promote better by dilating blood vessels. PGE-1 is the most important of the prostoglandins. It balances cholesterol and blood pressure levels and stimulates the production of T-lymphocytes, which strengthen immune capabilities. Sources of EFA’s. The Essential Fatty Acids are found in both plant and animal food sources, although primarily in plants. The EFA family is composed of two main groups, the Omega-3 and the Omega-6.