Essential Fatty Acids and Their Derivatives
By definition, any substance that the body needs in its daily biochemical activity, which it is unable to produce on its own, is an "essential nutrient". We must obtain these nutrients from food or supplements. Of the 50 or so known essential nutrients, there are 2 essential fatty acids (EFAS) Omega 3 EFA, or alpha-linolenic acid (ALANA), and Omega 6 EFA or linoleic acid (LA).
Omega 3 (N-3) and its derivatives (SDA, EPA and DHA) comprise the Omega 3 family. Likewise Omega 6 EFA and its derivatives (GLA, DGLA and AA) form the Omega 6 (N-6) family. The chart below illustrates the "family trees" and their relationship to prostaglandins, hormone-like regulating substances.
Essential Fatty Acid Functions
Omega 3 EFA and Omega 6 EFA are required for:
Prostaglandins have 5 known functions:
Although it may appear that PG2s are harmful, they are necessary. PG2s are triggered by stress and performs a useful purpose in times of danger or injury. We do however, need the PG3s of the Omega 3 family to keep the PG2s of the Omega 6 family in check.
Flax Seed Oil and Essential Fatty Acids
Unrefined, certified organic Flax Seed Oil while containing both Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFAs, is especially valued as the richest vegetable source of Omega 3 EFA. It is this nutrient that has been practically deplete form the North American diet. Researchers estimate that the average diet supplies only 20% of the required amount of Omega 3 EFA (and of what the average diet in 1820 supplied. Any explanation for this deplorable situation would have to consider that the livestock we eat are no longer given feed containing Omega 3 EFA and the oils we now consume have had most of their EFA destroyed in processing.