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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 the black liquid in the engine of your car or greasy deep-fried food. However, when it comes to human health, oil can actually be a good thing. Oil, also known as fatty acids or lipids, has been given a pretty bad reputation over the years. For many, the word oil has a strong association with obesity. Yet research has been published showing that when supplementing with a particular oil, fat-loss is sped up. The right types of oils are essential for human health, management of certain disease states and chronic disease prevention.

 

There are two essential fatty acids, called Linolenic Acid (Omega 3)(also known as alpha-linolenic acid [ALA]) and Linoleic Acid (Omega 6). There are also other oils which are not necessarily considered essential, yet they are still very important. These are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), found in fatty fish, fish oil and algae. Our need for EPA and DHA may actually be greater than our ability to synthesize them, especially when it comes to DHA. Therefore, dietary intake or supplementation of EPA and DHA, though they're not EFAs, is helpful for achieving optimal health. Both EPA and DHA are synthesized from Linolenic Acid, and are part of the Omega 3 pathway.

 

Essential fatty acids aid in nerve transmission and are necessary for normal development and functioning of the brain. They are also necessary to produce prostaglandins that regulate bodily processes such as inflammation. The Omega 3 oils are considered to be 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 also a convenient and effective way to ensure a decent daily intake of these importants oils. Fatty acids are stored in the body's tissues in a massive reservoir that takes time to modulate. This reservoir is called the cell membrane, and is the outside fatty layer of every cell in the human body. That's how important EFAs really are. Improving your Omega 3 to 6 balance will change the structure of every cell in your body over time, for the better.

 

However, it's not all about Omega 3, EPA and DHA. Omega 6 is still an essential fatty acid with some important roles to play. 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 ensure that we still 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.

 

There are some other specialised fatty acid supplements as well, which are conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) used for fat burning programs and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is typically supplemented for hot flushes, PMS or poor skin health. Krill oil is an excellent source of EPA and DHA, in a natural highly bioavailable phospholipid delivery system, and contains the antioxidant astaxanthin. CLA is typically used for weight loss programs, though the body of evidence on Omega 3 supplementation for fat-loss is perhaps even more compelling.

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