We’ve all heard of Essential Fatty Acids – but how many of us really understand what they are? This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know…
What are Essential Fatty Acids?
There is a popular misconception that all fats are bad and will either make us overweight or will clog our arteries and cause heart attacks. Whilst it is true that our diets should not supply more than 30% of our calories as fat, there are certain fats which we do need for good health. These are known as Essential Fatty Acids.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) can be divided into two categories: Omega-3 EFA’s and Omega-6 EFA’s. As neither of these EFA’s can be manufactured by the body, they need to be supplied in the diet.
How do Essential Fatty Acids work?
Omega-3s and 6s stabilise and strengthen cell membranes, making them more flexible – for example in the structure of the brain and cardiovascular system. They attract cholesterol out of the blood and into the cell wall. Those who regularly eat oily fish have more favourable ratios of the good High Density Lipoproteins compared to the bad Low Density Lipoproteins (Lipoproteins are the form in which fats are transported in the blood).
EFA’s are the raw materials for hormone-like chemicals known as prostaglandins. These are active biological substances which are involved in most bodily functions, including: inflammation response, healing and repair of tissues, influencing hormones, fluid balance and controlling the body temperature. They influence the health of the immune, digestive and reproductive systems.
There are three types of prostaglandins formed from EFA’s, and good health requires the correct proportion of the three – which in turn depends upon the relative amounts of EFA’s in the diet.
What are good sources of Essential Fatty Acids?
Fish Oil is unique because it contains the Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
- Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil are both rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Flaxseed Oil and Starflower Oil are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids.
- Flaxseed Oil also provides a source of Omega-9 fatty acids.
Omega-9 fatty acid is not considered to be “essential” because – unlike Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids – it can be manufactured by the body.
Omega-9 fatty acid contributes to the protective membranes around nerve cells and is liquid at room temperature, which helps to keep the arteries supple. It is considered to play an important part in the healthy Mediterranean diet.
Natures Aid Ultra Omega 1200 combines Fish, Flaxseed and Starflower Oils to provide Omega-3, 6 & 9 – including 1200mg EFA’s.
Why Choose Natures Aid Essential Fatty Acids?
Omega 3’s from fish oil come to consumers in one of two forms: triglycerides or ethyl esters. One of the most controversial and debated quality issues surrounding fish oil is which form is best – Triglyceride (TG) or Ethyl Ester (EE)?
Long chain Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are present as triglycerides when we consume oily fish, making triglycerides the natural form.
Ethyl Ester forms of omega-3 fatty acid supplements are becoming more prevalent in the market because of the cost: they are cheaper to produce than the Triglyceride forms.
Natures Aid produce two Fish Oil products, both of which only contain the Triglyceride form of omega-3.
- Natures Aid Fish Oil 1000mg capsules – which typically provides 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA
- Natures Aid Super Strength Fish Oil softgels – typically providing 388mg EPA and 260mg DHA
Natures Aid also produce a Fish Oil liquid with Vitamin D3, providing high levels of EPA and DHA.