Essential Fatty Acid (Vitamin F)

Those fatty acids that cannot be made by the body and which must be supplied through the diet are called essential fatty acids (EFAs), also referred to as vitamin F. These essential fatty acids are also known as polyunsaturates, and are recommended in order to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and to reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke.

Fortified flax is rich in omega-3 factors, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. It is also a good source of the B vitamins, protein, and zinc. Fortified flaxseed is low in saturated fats and calories, and contains no cholesterol. It has a nutty taste and can be mixed with water or any fruit or vegetable juice. It can also be added to salads, soups, yogurt, and cereals.

The most essential of the fatty acids is linoleic acid. The daily requirement for essential fatty acids is satisfied by consuming an amount of vitamin F equivalent to 10 to 20 percent of total calorie intake. The natural form is found in many vegetables and vegetable oils (except coconut or palm kernel oils). If such oils are heated or hydrogenated (processed), the linoleic acid is converted to trans fatty acids, which are not essential substances and cannot be utilized.

Primrose oil and black currant oil contain high amounts of linoleic acid. Salmon, mackerel, menhaden, herring, and sardines, found in cold deep water, are good sources of fish oil because they have the highest fat content and provide more omega-3 factors than other fishes,. For instance, four ounces of salmon can contain 3,600 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, while four ounces of cod (a low-fat fish) contains only 300 milligrams, they should consume the fish for its essential fatty acids.

Cod liver oil from Norway is the most commonly used and is more mild tasting. Author Dale Alexander claims it is excellent for arthritis. He has marketed an oil containing 13,800 IU vitamin A and 1,380 IU vitamin D per tablespoon. Do not exceed this dose on a regular basis. Don’t rely on cod liver oil to obtain the essential fatty acids. You would have to overdose on vitamin A and D to obtain the amount of fatty acids needed.

These essential fatty acids have desirable effects on many disorders. They reduce blood pressure, aid in the prevention of arthritis, reduce the growth rate of breast cancer, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and help eczema, psoriasis, and arteriosclerosis. Found in high concentrations in the brain, EFA’s aid transmission of nerve impulses and are needed for normal brain function. Essential fatty acids are also needed in the treatment of candidiasis and coronary heart disease, and to minimize blood clot formation.

Research done by Dr. William E. Connor, professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University, indicates that dietary omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal function and development of the brain. Japanese researchers concur that a deficiency of essential fatty acids leads to an impaired ability to learn and recall information.


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