What are EFA's? -
EFA's or Essential Fatty Acids
EFA's or Essential
Fatty Acids, are naturally occurring unsaturated fats that are
considered essential because they are not produced by the human body.
There are two essential fatty acids, they are linoleic, sometimes
referred to as the Omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linoleic, referred to
as the Omega-3 fatty acid. Without these essential fatty acids,
several bodily functions would not be possible. The body uses
linolenic acid to make two other essential fatty acids,
docosahexaenoic acid, commonly referred to as DHA, and
eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. These fatty acids are found in fish oil
Why should I use
The role that EFA's
play in our bodies is significant and might surprise you. One of the
major roles of EFA's in the body is as structural components of all
cell membranes. In addition to this, EFA's are vital for the formation
of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins which are vital for a
variety of functions including steroid hormone production. It is
important to keep in mind that although our diets seem to be
excessively loaded with fat, these fats are of the saturated variety
and do nothing to improve overall body function except as stored fat
deposits. It is important to consume enough EFA's and as little
saturated fat as possible in order to promote proper overall body
What research has
been done on EFA's?
As with other
supplements, EFA's have plenty of research proving their benefits.
Some studies have demonstrated that supplementing the diet with EFA's
may decrease catabolism and increase growth hormone secretion. Other
studies have shown that EFA's may improve the action of insulin and
could possibly enhance oxygen utilization and the energy
transformation necessary for optimal performance. Still other studies
have demonstrated that EFA's can have a positive impact on total
cholesterol levels and can increase levels of HDL, or the good
cholesterol. Finally, and perhaps the most exciting of all studies,
found that supplementing with EFA's, specifically CLA, may support a
significant increase in fat loss and an increase in lean body mass.
What doses of
EFA's should be taken?
There have been no
definitive studies as to what doses are the optimal. The recommended
dose depends on a persons eating habits, metabolism and genetics.
Usually, in conjunction with a low-fat diet, consuming 3-9 total grams
per day has been shown to be sufficient.
What side effects
are caused by EFA's?
As of yet, there have
been no reported or known side effects from taking EFA's. As stated
before, EFA's are abundant in nature, such as fish oils, and vegetable
oils, and thus no adverse side effects should be encountered.