Essential fatty acids (EFA)

Some fatty acids are essential for the body.

It means that the body cannot fonction without them.

As the body cannot synthetize two essential fatty acids, they must be provided by the food.

These two acids are linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid.

They are essential for the health, and from them other essential fatty acid are made.

Linoleic acid C18:2 6

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid.
It is biologically inactive before it is catalysed by our body into other omega-6 fatty acids : gamma linoleic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma linoleic acid (DHGLA) and arachidonic acid (AA).

Alpha linolenic acid C18:3 3

It is an omega-3 fatty acid.
Other omega-3 fatty acids are manufactured in the body using alpha-linolenic acid as a starting point.
These include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

High levels of omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish which may explain the low levels of heart disease in populations which eat a lot of fish.

For the conversion of both of these EFA in other EFA, a good intake of vitamins and minerals is needed.

Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, dietetian
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2000
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