Essential Fatty Acid (EFA)
Linoleic acid (LA)
Alpha-linolenic acid (LNA)
Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA),
Dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
EFAs are like vitamins in their essentiality, they differ in other respects.
Vitamins are required in small amounts (mg/day). EFAs are macronutrients,
necessary in grams/day.
second difference is that EFAs are perishable, deteriorating rapidly when
exposed to light, air, heat and metals. Unlike vitamins, EFAs cannot be dried,
powdered, and stored for several years. EFA sensitivity makes careful processing
and freshness extremely important.
references and college texts on nutrition suggest three EFAs: linoleic,
linolenic, and arachidonic acids. This outdated information is wrong. Two fatty
acids are essential to human health. (Fish require only one fatty acid and
plants require neither—they make EFAs.)
first is the omega 6 EFA, which is called linoleic acid (LA). LA is abundant in
polyunsaturated safflower, sunflower, and corn oils. The second, known as the
omega 3 EFA, is called alpha-linolenic acid (LNA). Sometimes referred to as
super-unsaturated, LNA is found abundantly in flex and hemp seeds.
and its derivatives belong to the omega 6 family of polyunsaturates. In addition
to linoleic acid (LA), this family includes gamma-linoleic acid (GLA),
dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (AA).
LA is provided by foods, our cells make GLA, DGLA, and AA. Bad fats (margarines,
shortenings, trans-fatty acids, hard fats, sugar and cholesterol),
lack of minerals (magnesium, selenium, zinc) and vitamins (B3, B6, C, E),
viruses, obesity, diabetes, aging, and rare genetic mutations can all inhibit
omega 6 conversion. In such situations, an oil containing omega 6 derivatives
can help. GLA is present in evening primrose, borage, and black currant seed.
DGLA is found in mother’s milk. AA is found in meats, eggs, and dairy
and its derivatives belong to an omega 3 family of superunstaurates. Besides
alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), this family includes stearidonic acid (SDA),
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). If LNA is provided
by foods, our cells make SDA, EPA and DHA. When the conversion of EFAs to their
derivatives is inhibited by the factors listed above, DHA from black currant
seed oil, or EPA and DHA from fish oils and northern ocean algae can be given.
value of LA and LNA to health results from their chemical properties. EFAs react
with oxygen (EFA-rich oils—flax, hemp, safflower—were traditionally used in
paints because they oxidize, dry and harden quickly when exposed to air). When
fresh, these oils are valuable human foods. EFAs absorb sunlight, increasing
their ability to react with oxygen by about 1000-fold and making them very
molecules carry slight negative charges that cause them to repel one another.
They spread out in all directions. This property enables EFAs to carry
oil-soluble toxins from deep within the body to the skin surface for
eliminations. EFAs form associations with sulfhydryl group (cysteine) in
proteins, important in reactions that make possible the one-way movement of
electrons and energy on which life depends. EFAs store electric charges that
produce bio-electric currents important for nerve, muscle, and cell membrane
functions, and the transmission of messages.