Although the body voluntarily makes most of the fat that it needs from dietary starch or sugar, humans lack the ability to make essential fatty acids (EFAs) and must get them from dietary supplements or food.
Indications that you are EFA deficient or an EFA imbalance is present are: dry skin; the need to use moisturizing creams and lotions; "chicken skin," the presence of tiny rough bumps, usually on the back of the arms; dry hair; dandruff; fraying or brittle nails; premenstrual breast tenderness and menstrual cramps.
Essential fatty acids come in two distinct families, based upon their chemical structure. The two EFA families are not interchangeable and, in fact, tend to compete with one another in the body's metabolic pathways.
Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids:
"Omega-six" EFAs which is part of the larger family, is found in many vegetable seed oils, including corn, safflowers and sunflowers. Deficiency of omega-six EFAs can cause impairment of growth and fertility, hormonal disturbances and immunologic abnormalities. But an overload of omega-six EFAs may promote the development of cancer. People living in Europe and North America often have relatively high levels of omega-six EFAs in their diets, because of the increased consumption of vegetable oil.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids:
"Omega-three" EFAs which is part of the smaller family, is most concentrated in fish oils, flaxseed oil and green leafy vegetables. The human brain is rich in omega-3 EFAs; their deficiency causes abnormalities in the development and function of the nervous system as well as immune defects. Consumption of fish, flaxseed meal and soy beans supplied omega-3's for our ancestors.
There has been a systematic depletion of omega-3 EFAs from the typical modern diet because of changes in food choices and in the way we process our food.
Fish Oil Benefits:
Fish oils, the most concentrated source of omega-3's, have made front page news because of their potential ability to help prevent disorders as apparently unrelated to one another as heart attacks, cancer, and migraine headaches, and to help reverse the effects of conditions such as psoriasis,cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Countless people in the US and Europe are short on omega-3 EFAs. Omega-3 rich foods include flaxseed, walnuts and salmon.
Fish Oil and Heart Disease:
According to recent research published in the British Medical Journal, Fish oil can help increase the chances of survival for people with heart disease.
There have been several studies on the potential benefits of fish oil supplements for people who have coronary heart disease. Reviews of the published results indicate that taking fish oil supplements could help decrease the risk of cardiac (heart-related) death by 13-20% in people who already have a heart condition.
Fish Oil Keeps Cells Younger:
As your cells age, your chromosomes become shorter. Telomeres are the extreme ends of chromosomal DNA that shorten with age. Telomere shortening is seen as an indicator of biological aging.
A study done at San Francisco General Hospital and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that for people with heart disease, higher levels of fish-derived omega-3 fats in blood were associated with longer telomeres.
Lead author of the study, Dr Ramin Farzaneh-Far stated that this was an observational study and that a randomized trial will be needed to prove causality. "But in the meantime, the results underscore and reinforce the American Heart Association guidelines that patients with coronary artery disease should be taking 1 gram a day of omega-3 fatty acids."
17 May 2011