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Essential Fatty Acid Oils

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About Essential Fatty Acid Oils

The word "oil" might make you think about greasy fried food or the engine of your car. Oils have been given a bad reputation over the years, often associated with heart disease and obesity perhaps due to the high energy density. Research indicates that quality oil supplements may promote fat-loss and the right types of oils are essential for optimal health and chronic disease prevention.

 

Oils may also be referred to as lipids, fats or fatty acids, which are essentially the same substance. There are two essential fatty acids, which are Linolenic Acid (Omega 3) and Linoleic Acid (Omega 6). Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), though not regarded as essential fats, are found in fatty fish, fish oil, krill and algae. Our need for EPA and DHA is greater than our ability to synthesize them, which makes dietary intake or supplementation important for optimal health. Both EPA and DHA are synthesized from Linolenic Acid and are part of the Omega 3 family.

 

Essential fatty acids support nerve transmission and are necessary for normal development and health of the brain. They are necessary to produce prostaglandins that regulate processes such as inflammation. The Omega 3 oils are anti-inflammatory by nature. These Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFAs may be beneficial for arthritis, to improve skin and hair health and for cardiovascular health. It has been observed that humans now consume far too much Omega 6 in proportion to Omega 3, and that a higher 3:6 ratio may be beneficial for all areas of health.

 

This means reducing our intake of foods like vegetable cooking oils and dairy, and increasing our consumption of fatty fish, linseed (flaxseed) and chia seeds. A quality Omega 3 supplement, rich in EPA and DHA is a convenient way to ensure a high daily intake of these importants oils. Fatty acids are stored in the body's cell membranes, which are a massive reservoir that takes time to modulate. Improving your Omega 3 to 6 balance will change the structure of every cell in your body over time.

 

It's not all about Omega 3, EPA and DHA though. Omega 6 is an essential fatty acid with important roles to play for human health. For instance, we need linoleic acid (Omega 6) for the synthesis of arachidonic acid. Even though the typical Western diet has a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, it is important to consume enough Omega 6 to support general health, as linoleic acid is indeed an essential fatty acid. We need these Omega 6 oils to ensure the cell membrane has sufficient rigidity in order to maintain form. Furthermore, linoleic acid is converted to gamma linolenic acid, which offers numerous health benefits.

 

Specialised fatty acid supplements, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) also have benefits to offer. CLA may promote fat loss during a calorie restricted diet, though the evidence based for Omega 3 is certainly compelling in this instance. GLA is typically used for hot flushes, PMS or poor skin health. Krill oil is an excellent source of EPA and DHA, in a highly bioavailable phospholipid delivery system and contains the antioxidant astaxanthin.

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