Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Essential Fatty Acids Deficiency: Functions and Foods for EFA

Dietary fat plays several fundamental roles in the body. Fats are the most concentrated source of energy and provide 9 calories per gram. It is also required for the synthesis of structural components, such as cell membrane.  Since the body has an almost limitless ability to store fat, consuming a diet that is loaded with fats can result in obesity. It is imperative to remember that, just as the amount of fat is important, so is the type of fat that you consume.

What Are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)?
The two official essential fatty acids are linoleic (omega 6 fatty acid) and alpha-linoleic (omega 3 fatty acid); nonetheless, there are other fats which are extremely important too. These two are vital complements for good health and ought to be incorporated in the daily diet.

Function of Essential Fatty Acid: Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids perform some important functions in the body’s metabolic and physiological activities,
  • Cell membrane function: a cell membrane contains 2 layers, each made up of proteins, cholesterol, and fats. when one consumes fat that is mostly saturated fat, trans fat and animal fat, then the cell membrane has much less fluid than the membrane of a person who consumes optimal quantities of unsaturated fats. Without the right type of fats in the cell membrane, the cells fail to function normally, thus triggering a host of lifestyle linked disorders.
  • Conversion to prostaglandins: EFAs are transformed in prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are regulatory compounds that carry out various tasks and govern: your response to allergy, blood clotting, blood pressure, heart, kidney, and GI functioning, inflammation and pain, hormone manufacture, and nerve conduction.

Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency: Deficiency of EFA

The following are the commonly seen clinical manifestations of a deficiency of EFAs:

    EFA deficiency can result
    in Dryness of skin and
    Hair Fall
  • Dry, dull hair
  • Cracked nails
  • Dry skin
  • Dryness of the mucous membranes increasing the risk of upper respiratory tract infections
  • Constipation and indigestion
  • Arthritis and disorders of joints
  • Exhaustion and Fatigue
  • Poor memory with inability to concentrate
  • Immune weakness or poor Immunity

Walnuts are a good
source of Essential
Fatty Acids
Foods with Essential Fatty Acids: Sources of Essential Fatty Acids

The following foods provide generous doses of omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids; and thereby help in the optimal functioning of the body cells:

  • Cold water fish such as, Herring, Salmon, Mackerel, and Halibut
  • Flax seeds
  • Walnuts along with other dry fruits like Almonds, Cashewnuts, etc 
Essential Fatty Acids Supplements

EFA supplements are recommended in cases of dermatitis, eczema and excessive dryness of the skin, which is invariably triggered by an inadequate intake of essential fatty acids in the diet. Supplements also help manage hair fall and teat dull, lifeless hair. Experts advocate supplementation in cases of arthritis, severe constipation, atherosclerosis, insufficiently performing immune mechanism and Alzheimer’s disease.


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