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Essential Fatty Acids

Definition: Also known as vitamin F, these are fatty acids which must be supplied thorough the diet and cannot be produced by the body. These are polyunsaturated acids commonly used to treat high cholesterol, heart disease and to prevent strokes. The most essential of the fatty acids is called linoleic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids include EPA (eicosapentaenioic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from marine lipids. Coldwater fish contain two essential fatty acids referred to as EPA and DHA which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, contribute to nerve health and act as natural anti-inflammatory agents. Omega-6 fatty acids include GLA (gamma linolenic acid, also referred to as linoleic acid) and are usually found in plant sources. These acids can be found in flaxseed oil, a rich plant source of the omega-3 factors, low in saturated fats and cholesterol-free; black current oil, naturally high in GLA (linoleic acid, which must be obtained from dietary sources); and evening primrose oil, the richest source of GLA (linoleic acid) found anywhere. (Borage oil is also rich in omega-6 fatty acids.) Anyone with hormone-related cancers should limit their intake of primrose oil and use black current instead.

Applications: High blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, breast cancer, psoriasis, eczema, weight loss, multiple sclerosis, brain function, and PMS.

Recommendations: Use liquid or capsulized liquid forms. Products that need refrigeration and come in dark or light protected containers are preferable. Combination capsules which contain a variety of essential fatty acids are also good.

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