Why Essential Fatty Acids are Essential
Ever wonder why your doctor advises you to take one baby aspirin a day? It's because it thins your blood and helps it flow more easily through your veins, carrying nutrients to your cells and brain. It also protects your arteries from forming plaque.
Well, the essential fatty acids (EFA) do the same thing, without the side effects of aspirin. EFAs also keep your hair, skin and nails healthy. The typical American diet tends to be deficient in EFAs, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. You won't find them in a multiple vitamin/mineral because oils don't mix well with the dry powders that are pressed into tablets. However, EFAs are vital to any permanent eating program.
There are three types of EFAs. Omega-9 fatty acids are readily available in olive oil, but supplements are the only way to get adequate amounts of the other two, omega-3 and omega-6 oils. The former come from animal sources (primarily fish and marine mammals) and vegetable sources, such as flaxseed oil, which provides alpha-linolenic acid. Omega-6, also known as gamma-linolenic acid, is found in borage oil and black-currant oil.
And now the answer to the essential question: Because our bodies cannot manufacture these fatty acids by itself, it is essential that they be consumed in food and/or supplements.