EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Requirement

Please refer to the discussion of this topic in the Treatments section. This knowledge will help you decide what you should do as you read about “Essential Fatty Acids” there.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Requirement

Supplements and Medications  

Being helped by aspirin



Symptoms - Food - Preferences  

Fatty food craving



Symptoms - Head - Ears  

(No) ear wax problem



Symptoms - Metabolic  

Sun-induced headaches



Symptoms - Muscular  

Leg cramps caused by walking



 

Tightness across shoulders



Symptoms - Nails  

Brittle fingernails



Symptoms - Skin - General  

Thin/thick cracked heel calluses




Conditions that suggest EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Requirement

Autoimmune  


Circulation  

Poor/Slow Wound Healing

Failure to provide either omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids in the diet results in poor wound healing.



Infections  


Inflammation  

Chronic Inflammation

In order to maintain proper balance of the antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE1 and PGE3) with the pro-spasmodic and pro-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE2), it is critical to have the proper balance of essential fatty acids.

Without adequate amounts of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils in the diet, prostaglandin production will be reduced and problems may result.



Lab Values  


Nutrients  


 


Skin-Hair-Nails  


 

Dandruff

A diet low in essential fatty acids can result in skin problems, such as dandruff.



 

Male Hair Loss

Essential fatty acid deficiency can results in dry, brittle hair and hair thinning or loss.



 

Female Hair Loss

Essential fatty acid deficiency can results in dry, brittle hair and hair thinning or loss.



 


Uro-Genital  

Fibrocystic Breasts

Fatty acid profiles may be abnormal in women with fibrocystic breast disease. Treatment with essential fatty acids may help to normalize this. [Plasma fatty acid profiles in benign breast disorders. Br J Surg, 1992 May, 79:5, pp.407-9]




Risk factors for EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Requirement

Lab Values - Chemistries  

(Borderline) high LDL

Many studies have shown that supplementing the diet with fish oils enriched in omega-3 fats EPA and DHA tend to reduce triglycerides and increase HDL (good) cholesterol concentrations. However, studies have gotten mixed results regarding its effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol and few studies have examined the effects of adding fat supplement GLA to omega-3 fat supplements.

In a study involving 31 women, researchers compared the effects of EPA and DHA supplementation (4 grams) by itself to that of EPA and DHA with GLA supplementation (1 or 2 grams). The combination of EPA, DHA and GLA tended to reduce LDL cholesterol by about 12%.

A combination of a 4:2 ratio of the supplements (4gm EPA and DHA, 2gm GLA) resulted in an average of a 15% decrease in non-HDL cholesterol concentrations, which translates to an over 40% decrease in heart disease risk. [American Journal Clinical Nutrition January 2003;77:37-42]



Symptoms - Food - Intake  

(High) hydrogenated fat consumption



Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Food - Intake  

Using olive oil or minor olive oil use



 

Low/moderate/high Omega-3 oil intake



 

High/moderate/low cold water fish consumption



Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  

History of adult acne




EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Requirement can lead to

Circulation  

Poor/Slow Wound Healing

Failure to provide either omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids in the diet results in poor wound healing.




Recommendations for EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Requirement

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs  


Nutrient  


Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Strongly counter-indicative
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
Likely to help
Highly recommended

Glossary

Essential Fatty Acid

(EFA): A substance that the human body cannot manufacture and therefore must be supplied in the diet.

Fatty Acids

Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.

Antispasmodic

Preventing spasms.

Prostaglandin

Any of a class of physiologically active substances present in many tissues, with effects such as vasodilation, vasoconstriction, stimulation of the smooth muscles of the bronchus or intestine, uterine stimulation; also involved in pain, inflammation, fever, allergic diarrhea, and dysmenorrhea. A potent hormone -- similar in structure to an unsaturated fatty acid -- that acts in extremely low concentrations on local target organs; first isolated from the prostate.

Benign

Literally: innocent; not malignant. Often used to refer to cells that are not cancerous.

EPA

Environmental Protection Agency. Also: Eicosapentanoic Acid. A metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.

DHA

Docosahexanoic Acid. A metabolite of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.

Triglyceride

The main form of fat found in foods and the human body. Containing three fatty acids and one unit of glycerol, triglycerides are stored in adipose cells in the body, which, when broken down, release fatty acids into the blood. Triglycerides are fat storage molecules and are the major lipid component of the diet.

High-Density Lipoprotein

(HDL): Also known as "good" cholesterol, HDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles that circulate in the blood picking up already used and unused cholesterol and taking them back to the liver as part of a recycling process. Higher levels of HDLs are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease because the cholesterol is cleared more readily from the blood.

Cholesterol

A waxy, fat-like substance manufactured in the liver and found in all tissues, it facilitates the transport and absorption of fatty acids. In foods, only animal products contain cholesterol. An excess of cholesterol in the bloodstream can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Low-Density Lipoprotein

(LDL): Also known as "bad" cholesterol, LDLs are large, dense, protein-fat particles composed of a moderate proportion of protein and a high proportion of cholesterol. Higher levels of LDLs are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

GLA

Gamma-linolenic Acid is a downline metabolite of linoleic acid, an Omega 6 oil.

Gram

(gm): A metric unit of weight, there being approximately 28 grams in one ounce.

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