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About essential fatty acids

The body can synthesize most of the fats it needs from the diet. However, two essential fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic acid, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. These basic fats, found in plant foods, are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids

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EFAs are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term “essential fatty acid” refers to fatty acids required for biological processes but does not include the fats that only act as fuel.

Only two fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Some other fatty acids are sometimes classified as “conditionally essential,” meaning that they can become essential under some developmental or disease conditions; examples include docosahexaenoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and gamma-linolenic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid).

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When the two EFAs were discovered in 1923, they were designated “vitamin F”, but in 1929, research on rats showed that the two EFAs are better classified as fats rather than vitamins.

Fat Soluble Vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E and K.

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that cannot be constructed within an organism from other components (generally all references are to humans) as there are no known biochemical pathways capable of producing them. They can only be obtained in the diet if they are to be incorporated into human biological processes. The term refers to those involved in biological processes, and not fatty acids which may just play a role as fuel. As many of the compounds created from essential fatty acids can be taken directly in the diet, it is possible that the amounts required in the diet (if any) are overestimated. It is also possible they can be underestimated as organisms can still survive in unidealistic, malnourished conditions.

EFA Essential Fatty Acids:

There are two families of EFAs: ω-3 (or omega-3 or n-3) and ω-6 (omega-6, n-6.) Fats from each of these families are essential, as the body can convert one omega-3 to another omega-3, for example, but cannot create an omega-3 from scratch. They were originally designated as Vitamin F when they were discovered as essential nutrients in 1923. In 1930, work by Burr, Burr and Miller showed that they are better classified with the fats than with the vitamins.

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