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NUTRIENTS >> Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that humans cannot synthesize, and must be obtained through diet. EFAs are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids. There are two families of EFAs: Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-9 is necessary yet “non-essential” because the body can manufacture a modest amount on its own, provided essential EFAs are present. The number following “Omega-” represents the position of the first double bond, counting from the terminal methyl group on the molecule. Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from Linolenic Acid, Omega-6 from Linoleic Acid, and Omega-9 from Oleic Acid.

Fatty acids are also natural blood thinners; they can prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Essential fatty acids contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds that can relive the symptoms of arthritis and autoimmune diseases. In addition, a diet low in essential fatty acids could result in skin problems, such as dandruff, eczema, splitting nails and dull brittle hair. 

Fatty acids influence the structure of the cells lining the intestinal tract, as well as the "villi" through which absorption of nutrients takes place. They increase the thickness and surface area of the digestive-absorptive cells that line the inside of our intestine. This results in more effective digestion, better absorption of nutrients, less absorption of allergens, and better health.

More importantly, numerous studies have shown that compounds found in essential fatty acids can block tumor formation in animals, and test tube studies have documented that omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the growth of human br**st cancer cells. 

Your brain is actually 60 percent fat - and DHA (an Omega-3 essential fatty acid) is the most abundant fat in your brain. It’s also the most abundant fat in br**st milk, since babies need it to nourish their growing brains and eye development. This Omega-3 fat seems to be important mostly for connecting brain cells to each other and making sure the transmission of brain signals get through right. It is also found in high concentration in the retina of the eye.

Daily amount needed
There are no recommended daily Allowance (RDAs) for essential fatty acids. Each person requires different amounts.

The requirement for men may be higher than that for women. Conditions of stress or disease modify the Essential Fatty Acid requirement. 

An optimum amount of essential fatty acid has been suggested as 3 to 6% of our daily calorie intake.

Each of us must find out optimum level by careful observation and experimentation. Your exact optimum level is something you must determine for yourself through practical experience.

One personal way to check is how dry your skin feels. Skin that obtains sufficient Omega 3 feels soft and velvety to touch. Skin that is too dry needs more Essential Fatty acid rich oil. In cold weather, skin dries and requires more Omega 3 oil than in warm weather.

Sources
Flaxseed oil, also known as linum usitatissimum seed oil in homoeopathy (flaxseed oil has the highest linolenic content of any food), flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, hempseed oil, hempseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.), canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined), soybean oil, wheat germ oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, and others.

Deficiency symptoms and diseases
Diarrhea, dry skin and hair, hair loss, immune impairment, infertility, poor wound healing, premenstrual syndrome, acne, eczema, gall stones, liver degeneration.

Omega Supplements
Flaxseed Oil (Linum Usitatissimum Seed Oil)
Omega-3 fatty acids are a key force against inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation is enhanced by having too little Omega-3 intake (such as in fish, flax, and walnuts), especially in relation to Omega-6 fatty acid intake (in oils such as soy and corn oil). Most of the oil in flax seeds is alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an Omega-3 that is a precursor to the fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty cold-water fish (called EPA and DHA). Because not everyone is able to easily convert ALA into EPA and (especially) DHA, it is best not to rely solely on flax for your Omega-3 intake. However, ALA also has good effects of its own, and definitely helps in the Omega 3/6 balance.

Flax Seed is High in Fiber: You’d be hard-pressed to find a food higher in fiber — both soluble and insoluble — than flax. This fiber is probably mainly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects of flax. Fiber in the diet also helps stabilize blood sugar, and, of course, promotes proper functioning of the intestines.

Flax Seed is High in Phytochemicals: Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances that tend to balance female hormones. There is evidence that lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent br**st cancer. In addition, lignans may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.

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