What are the functions of essential fatty acids ?

What are the functions of essential fatty acids ?

Essential fatty acids have many functions throughout the body. They are involved in:

  • Energy production. In a study with athletes in Denmark, we showed that within one month of giving athletes one tablespoon per 50 pounds of body weight per day of an oil blend with an omega-3: omega-6 ratio of 2:1, stamina increased by up to 40 or even 60%. Athletes could exercise longer before reaching exhaustion, recovered more quickly from fatigue, could exercise more often without over-training, healed quicker from injuries, built muscle faster, and had less joint pain.

    Energy improvement is also seen in non-athletes and older people. The EFA blend also improves mental stamina. 
  • Brain Function. In our work with the blended oil, we have seen consistent improvements in brain function, and research with EFAs from other sources has also shown brain benefits. Among these are elevated mood, lifted depression, increased calmness, better handling of stress, less hyperactivity, better focus, better mental processing, faster learning, increased intelligence, better concentration, and improved motor coordination.
    Among the mentally ill, EFAs can decrease hallucinations in schizophrenics, elevate mood, lift depression, improve symptoms in bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and improve brain function in Alzheimer's disease and autism.
    EFAs are also required for vision. 
    • Skin, Hair, and Nails. EFAs are required for healthy skin and hair, and are required for normal nail growth. They moisturize skin and prevent dryness.
    • Cancer. omega-3 EFAs lower cancer risk.
    • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). omega-3 can decrease most CVD risk factors, including high triglycerides (blood fats), blood pressure, platelet stickiness, fibrinogen, and lipoprotein(a). Omega-3 also keep the inside of our arteries smooth. Omega-3 and omega-6 keep the heart beat regular.
    • Diabetes. EFAs are required for insulin function. Omega-3 make diabetics more insulin-sensitive.
    • Weight Management. Omega-6 slightly and omega-3 more effectively help reduce fat production in the body. They also increase fat burning and heat production in the body, and shift the body from burning glucose to burning fats. Saturated, monounsaturated, and trans- fatty acids do not help to manage weight. Sugar triggers increased fat production in the body. Starch can also lead to overweight.
    • Digestion. EFAs improve gut integrity, decrease gut inflammation, and decrease 'leaky gut' that can lead to allergies.
    • Allergies. EFAs reduce symptoms of allergies. They work best if digestive enzymes rich in protein-digesting protease are also used.
    • Inflammation. omega-3 reduce inflammation. Digestive enzymes are also helpful.
    • Autoimmune Conditions. omega-3 dampen the over-response of the immune system in autoimmune conditions. Again, enzymes are also helpful.
    • Injury. EFAs speed the healing of injuries.
    • Bone Minerals. omega-3 improve bone mineral retention, thereby inhibiting the development of osteoporosis.
    • Stress. EFAs, by optimizing serotonin production, improve response to stress. People report feeling calmer, getting stressed less easily, dealing with stressful situations more calmly, and losing their temper less often.
    • Sleep. EFAs improve sleep in some people.
    • Hormones. EFAs improve hormone functions. Hormone levels may decrease, yet the effects of hormones remain normal. EFAs thereby ease the work load of glands.
    • Organs. EFAs are required for liver and kidney function.
    • Reproduction. EFAs are required for sperm formation, the female cycle, and pregnancy.
What happens when we don't get enough good fats?
The short answer is: Every part of the body gradually deteriorates and falls apart. No cell, tissue, gland, or organ can function normally without them.
Here is a longer list:
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Low energy levels
  • Brittle hair and hair loss
  • Poor nail growth
  • Deterioration of liver and kidneys
  • Behavioral changes due to brain deterioration
  • Glands dry up
  • Immune system deteriorates, resulting in more infections, poorer wound healing, and increased cancer
  • Digestion problems, inflammation, bloating, allergies, autoimmune conditions
  • Bone mineral loss
  • Reproductive failure: sterility in males and miscarriage in females
  • Retarded growth of children
  • Tingling in arms and legs due to nerve deterioration
  • Vision and learning problems
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased risk of overweight
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Increased cardiovascular risk
  • Decreased ability to cope with stress
  • In mental illness, increased symptoms
  • Decreased lung function
  • Decreased tissue oxidation

How does the body distribute essential fatty acids?

Essential fatty acids are distributed through the same vehicles that carry cholesterol throughout the body. They are found in chylomicrons, VLDL, LDL, IDL, HDL and the other carriers. In fact, a molecule of essential fat has to be hitched to a molecule of cholesterol to transport cholesterol in these vehicles.

Fat is carried in a watery system (our blood stream) by adding lecithin. Lecithin allows oil and water, which normally don't mix, to mix quite readily. This is because one end of the lecithin molecule is water-soluble while the other is oil-soluble. It therefore forms an interface between water and oil.

Proteins and minerals are also involved as carriers in the transport of fatty acids throughout the body.

Can you get too much essential fat?

When you get more than 12-15% of total calories as omega-3s, there is a fat "burn-off" based on increased metabolic rate. Other than exceeding liver capacity and getting nauseous, or not sleeping because of too much energy because you took it too close to bedtime, it doesn't appear so.