Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are the fatty acids that humans must obtain from their diets. Our bodies require these for good health as the body does not manufacture them.

Essential fatty acids are imperative for good health as they assist with many specific and important functions, such as:

  • mood modulation and brain function (improvement of memory, learning and behaviour patterns)
  • maintenance of healthy skin
  • essential component for sex hormone production
  • reduce inflammation in the body (inflammation is the biggest trigger for Endocrine imbalances)
  • promote contraction and relaxation of artery walls, anti-thrombotic (reduces blood clots) and anti-atherosclerotic (prevents fatty deposits in the arteries)
  • normalises and regulates cholesterol levels and provides anti-oxidant protection
  • reduces cancer cell growth of the breast, colon and prostate

As the name implies these fats are essential for health and we must obtain them from foods, rich sources are:

  • fish and fish oil
  • krill
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • vegetable oils
  • nuts
  • flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • leafy vegetables

Average diet – Omega 3: Omega 6

The current ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 intakes through the average diet is 10:1.  The recommended ratio for improving general health is 2:1.  Because most people fail to consume sufficient amounts of these beneficial fats, a deficiency of Omega-s EFAs is the biggest contributing factor to illness, disease and death.  Omega-6 fatty acids are primarily sourced from corn, soya, canola, sunflower and safflower oils.  These are typically over-abundant in the typical which accounts for excess Omega-6 levels.  Omega-6 fats predominate the Western diet and this encourages the production of inflammation in your body. Many scientists believe that one reason there is a high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature ageing, and some cancer forms today is this profound omega-3-omega-6 imbalance.

Importance of Omega 3 EFA

Omega-3 fats are a key family of polyunsaturated fats, there are three main omega-3s:

  1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which come mainly from fish (they are also commonly called marine omega-3s)
  2. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) most commonly found in vegetable oils and nuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fats.  The human body uses this for energy production.

Sources of quality fats

Make sure that you get the right type of omega-3 fats. Go for a pollution-free, eco-friendly, and highly sustainable animal food source, like wild-caught fish (salmon and sardines).  In a perfect world, fish can provide you all the omega-3s you need, so this means consuming a fish-based meal at least 3 times each week.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the fish supply is now heavily tainted with industrial toxins and pollutants, such as heavy metals which include mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium, PCBs, and radioactive poisons.  The highest concentrations of mercury are found in large carnivorous fish like tuna, sea bass, and marlin. You may need to be especially cautious of canned tuna as well, as independent testing by the Mercury Policy Project found that the average mercury concentration in canned tuna is far over the “safe limits” of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It is also important that you avoid farmed salmon, which contains only about half of the omega-3 levels of wild salmon. It may also harbor a range of contaminants, including environmental toxins, synthetic astaxanthin, and harmful metabolic byproducts and agrichemical residues of GMO corn- and soy-based feed they are given.

If you choose to increase your Omega-3 EFA by supplementation, ensure that it is ultra-clean, pure and concentrated form.  A pharmaceutical-grade fish oil that is highly stable and contains antioxidants such as Vitamin E to reduce oxidation of the oil is also recommended.