What are they?
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are healthy-fats that are an essential requirement for the healthy functioning of our bodies. If we are not getting enough of them (and most people are not) through our diets, then we need to make sure that we are getting them by supplementing.
The two significant groups of EFAs are Omega-3 and Omega-6. There are also Omega-9 fatty acids but these are not essential.
Omega-3 fatty acids include Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
Omega-6 fatty acids include Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).
Fish Oil (The Good Oil) is the best source of EPA and DHA. It is preferable where possible to get our healthy-fats (Essential Fatty Acids and, in fact, all necessary nutrients) from the food we eat, but this is not always possible.
Fish oil, in capsule or liquid form, may be a better source of healthy-fats than the fish that produce it ... because it is purified to be free of mercury and organic toxins.
There are few dietary sources other than oily fish from which we can get the necessary fatty acids. Omega-3 fortified eggs have recently come on the market, but they contain only very small amounts of these healthy-fats.
Walnuts, flaxseed and other vegetarian sources of Omega-3 do not provide EPA and DHA but rather a precursor (alpha-linolenic acid) that the body must convert. This conversion is inefficient at best and is often inhibited by the high intake of the fats common in processed and fast food.
We need EFAs daily to:
- Maintain energy production, circulatory health and a healthy metabolism.
- Support cellular communication, immune function, nervous system, reproduction and fertility.
- Nourish the active tissues of our bodies, such as the brain and eyes (which are comprised of over 20% DHA), heart, kidneys and adrenal glands.
- Help promote a positive mood and well-being.
- Support healthy visual and brain development during pregnancy and lactation.
- Support learning and cognitive development in children.
- Support a healthy inflammatory response.
Read about the 7 proven benefits of omega 3 in this article by Michael Byrd. ... and to be sure that you are getting the EFAs that your body requires, take a good quality Omega-3 supplement daily.
Most people do not get enough EFAs. In fact a recent research paper published by the CRN (Counsel for Responsible Nutrition) predicts that 75% of the US population is completely deficient in the important Omega-3 fatty acids SPA and DHA. Deficiency symptoms that can develop include:
- Poor memory
- Heart concerns
- Poor circulation
- Immune weakness
- Reproductive problems (men and women)
- Dry skin or hair loss
- Mood swings
Environmental toxins can also cause problems so it is important that you choose only top quality natural products that use only refined oils and that are fully tested to confirm the absence of environmental toxins.
The most common objections people have about taking fish oil supplements are the 'fishy' taste and the 'repeat' effect. 'Burping' usually indicates an oil has become oxidized, which makes it unpleasant and not able to be readily absorbed by the body. This won't be a problem if you always purchase a good quality fish oil supplement.