The Fatty Acid Family


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The Fatty Acid Family

The essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that

  • Cannot be synthesized by humans
  • Must be obtained from the diet
  • Are required for growth, reproduction and good health

The different fatty acids

Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of lipids. There is increasing
evidence that certain fatty acids have specific functions by interacting
with human cells.

Metabolism of essential fatty acids

Humans can synthesize longer omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids from
the essential fatty acids ALA and LA:

Conversion of ALA to the PUFA EPA is approx. 5%, conversion to DHA
is below 0.1%.1,2

The very low conversion efficiencies in humans strongly support
the consideration of an additional dietary intake of EPA, DHA and
GLA. Omega-3 and omega-6 must be obtained from the diet.