Essential fatty acids


Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of which fats and oils are composed. The fatty acids that are necessary for for health and that cannot be made by the body are called essential fatty acids (EFA's).

They are essential for rebuilding and producing new cells. They are also used by the body for the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that act as chemical messengers and regulators of various body processes. The essential fatty acids therefore show many benefits. They help to improve the condition of the skin, reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. More recently a lot of research has been done showing positive neurological benefits from taking EFA's.

There are two basic categories of essential fatty acids named according to their chemical structure. The Omega 3 EFA's include alpha-lnolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and are found in freesh deepwater fish, fish oil and flaxseed oil. The Omega 6 EFA's which include linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) are found primarily in raw nuts, seeds, legumes and in unsaturated vegetable oils like borage and evening primrose oil.