Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that are very important nutrients for health. Because the body cannot produce them, they must be ingested through diet or supplementation. EFAs are present in every cell in your body and are key to the normal growth and function of cells, muscles, nerves, and organs.
According to estimates, as many as 80 percent of Americans do not ingest enough EFAs; the result is a deficiency that may result in serious problems including heart disease and diabetes. Omega-6 EFAs are more common in our diets than omega-3 EFAs, but both types are necessary in a healthy diet.
A balance is recommended between omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs, with a desirable ratio of between 1:1 and 1:3. Unfortunately, Americans currently consume these EFAs in a ratio as unbalanced as 1:40! Overuse of omega-6 EFAs can lead to diabetes and obesity.
The American Heart Association has endorsed omega-3 fatty acids as good for the heart. Supportive but inconclusive research shows that the consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Strong evidence suggests that two common EFAs (GLA and HDA) can help with menopausal issues and that DHA is critical to brain function. More research is needed before conclusive health benefits can be established.
Rather than trying to choose between fish oil, flax seed oil, and borage oil as your source for essential fatty acids, why not take a supplement that includes all three? This step ensures you get all the benefits from the different types of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids.