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Essential Fatty Acids: How They Influence Health

written by: 00orange00 • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/7/2010

Essential fatty acids influence a broad range of heath conditions. Not only are they involved in the fundamental structure of the cell membranes of all the cells in your body, but they are also involved in numerous areas of cellular function and metabolism.

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    Beyond Structure: All the Things an Essential Fatty Acid Is Up To In Your Body

    Evidently essential fatty acids play a massive role in maintaining the structure of your whole body. We are talking about the work of holding one hundred trillion cell membranes in place here. For more information on this please read the section on" Phospholipids and the Structure of Cell Membranes". But, besides this one most significant (and unsung) role in the body, essential fatty acids serve to influence some other major aspects of cellular and intra cellular activities in your body as well. These include:

    • Serving as the raw material from which prostaglandins and leukotrienes are manufactured in the body
    • Optimizing metabolism, oxygen utilization and energy production
    • Facilitating inter- and intra- cellular communications
    • Regulating insulin production
    • Contributing to the manufacture of other endocrine hormones
    • Influencing the response of cells to the endocrine hormones.
    • Maintain healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body
    • Providing the means for normal development of the brain and nervous system in the fetus and young children (you could argue that this is a structural issue).
    • Maintain psychological well being as we age.

    These roles overlap and interplay with the primary role that essential fatty acids serve. The primary role served by essential fatty acids is as the material foundation of the outer and inner membranes of cells. Some of the other roles of fatty acids have to do with the use of the essential fatty acids as the raw materials from which other active components are manufactured in the body. Others have to do with the maintenance of cell membrane integrity, and others have to do with the balance of metabolic substances in the body as a whole.

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    Health Conditions Affected by Essential Fatty Acids

    Most people give at least a little thought as to whether they are getting enough protein in their diets. Many people go out of their way to make sure that they are getting adequate vitamin supplements, and many others take steps to ensure that they are getting the minerals that they need.

    But, how many people do you know who are actually ensuring that they avoid essential fatty acid deficiency by ensuring adequate levels of omega-3 nourishment every day? (omega-3 margarines do not count, these mixtures are not safe to eat). Clearly, essential fatty acids are immensely important in the maintenance of physical health and integrity. The conditions listed below will all be affected by omega-3 fatty acid nutrition in the body.

    Health Conditions Exhibiting Fatty Acid Deficiencies and Improvement with Appropriate Fatty Acid Supplementation:

    1. Acne
    2. AIDS
    3. Allergies Alzheimer's
    4. Angina
    5. Angioplasty
    6. Atherosclerosis
    7. Arthritis
    8. Autoimmunity
    9. Behavioral Disorders
    10. High Blood Pressure
    11. Breast Cancer
    12. Breast Cysts
    13. Breast Pain
    14. Cancer
    15. Cartilage Destruction
    16. Coronary Bypass
    17. Cystic Fibrosis
    18. Dementia
    19. Dermatitis
    20. Diabetes
    21. Eczema
    22. E. Coli Infection
    23. Heart Disease
    24. Hyperactivity
    25. Hypertension
    26. Hypoxia
    27. Ichthyosis
    28. Immune Disorders
    29. Infant Nutrition
    30. Inflammatory conditions
    31. Intestinal Disorders
    32. Kidney Function
    33. Learning disability
    34. Leprosy
    35. Leukemia
    36. Lupus
    37. Malnutrition
    38. Mastaglia
    39. Menopause
    40. Mental Illness
    41. Metastatsis
    42. Multiple Sclerosis
    43. Myocardial Infarction
    44. Myopathy
    45. Neurological Disease
    46. Obesity
    47. Osteoarthritis
    48. Post Viral Fatigue
    49. Pregnancy
    50. Psoriasis
    51. Refsums Syndrome
    52. Reyes Syndrome
    53. Rheumatoid Arthritis
    54. Schizophrenia
    55. Sepsis
    56. Sjogren-Larson Syndrome
    57. Stroke
    58. Vascular Disease
    59. Vision problems

    I recommend that you read all the articles in these sections here on good fats, bad fats, trans fats and essential fatty acids. Gaining adequate levels of the essential fatty acids requires some understanding. Good fats, bad fats, trans fats and essential fats all exhort an influence upon one another. You can not address essential fatty acid nutrition, in particular, without addressing the interplay of dietary fats and oils in the body in general. An understanding of fatty acid nutrition is imperative in the understanding of health overall.

    References:

    Gordon, Garry, M.D., D.O., M.D.(H.), Herb Joiner-Bey, N.D.(2004).The Omega-3 Miracle. Freedom Press, Topanga, CA

    Murray, T. N.D. and Jade Beutler, R.R.T., R.C.P.,(1996). Understanding Fats & Oils, Progressive Health Publishing, Encinitas, CA.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids must be gained from one's diet. Your body can not manufacture these special oil constituents and without them your health will fail and you will eventually perish. Essential fatty acids influence health in many ways. You need to understand what they are and how they work.
  1. What Are Essential Fatty Acids?
  2. Essential Fatty Acids: How They Influence Health
  3. Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency: The Modern Nutritional Illness
  4. What are Prostaglandins? How Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency Causes Inflammatory Disease
  5. How to Get Omega 3 Oils in your Diet