Essential Fatty Acids

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    Omega 3 fatty acids are found naturally in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, pilchards, sardine, fresh tuna (not tinned) and mackerel. It is often difficult meeting daily omega 3 requirements, therefore supplements are a convenient and consistent source of omega 3. Taking an omega 3 supplement (2-4 g of EPA and DHA) has been shown to have a positive effect in reducing inflammation in the body by inhibiting the enzymes which produce hormones that spark inflammation.

    Omega 6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat mainly found in soybeans, corn, safflower and sunflower oil, nuts and seeds, meat, poultry, fish and eggs. When eaten in moderation omega 6 fatty acids are beneficial for heart disease. When eaten in excess they become pro-inflammatory in the body.

    Linoleic acid (LA), an omega 6 fatty acid and alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fatty acid have to be consumed from the diet and are known as essential fatty acids. The omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be produced from ALA. This conversion is limited and therefore it is important to include food sources rich in these fatty acids in the diet or supplementation with this nutrient. ALA and LA are found in plant and seed oils (rapeseed and walnut oil). EPA and DHA are found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel and herring). LA and ALA compete for metabolism by the same enzyme (delta-6-desaturase). A high intake of LA would reduce the amount of enzyme available for the metabolism of ALA, which may increase heart disease and inflammation. Therefore it is important to have a balanced ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the diet. A target of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio of 1:1 to 2:1 appears to be consistent with studies on aspects of diet, neurodevelopment and genetics.

    Omega 7 is a monounsaturated fatty acid. Vaccenic acid, palmitoleic acid and rumenic acid are some of the omega 7 fatty acids. This nutrient is also found in certain oils such as sea buckthorn and macadamia nut oil. Omega 7 assists in the proper functioning of the body, especially the heart and brain. Studies have found that a diet rich in omega 7 helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and promotes an increase in good cholesterol (HDL). Supplementing with this nutrient supports optimum vascular and mucosal integrity and has skin nourishing, revitalising and restorative actions when taken orally and applied topically supporting treatment for a range of skin issues.

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