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Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids  

Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids, as oils, that humans (and other animals) must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term "essential fatty acid" refers to fatty acids required for biological processes, and not those that only act as fuel Only two EFAs (parental oils) are known for humans: alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Other fatty acids often consumed are only "conditionally essential", most of which are derived from the basic EFAs. The EFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), often found in seed oils, in contrast with saturated fats that we commonly associate with body fats in animals. In essence, the human body needs these parental oils for normal growth and biological construction-just as the seeds need them for stimulating new plant growth. We require other fatty acids for fuel and often to overcome deficiencies in our diet. Actions of the ω-3 (Omega-3) and ω-6 (Omega-6) essential fatty acids (EFAs) are best characterized by their interactions; they cannot be understood separately.

If we get imbalance in the parent oils we consume, or have deficiencies, or damage these oils in our food preparation then we have a higher risk for ill health or degenerative disease.

Essential fatty acids are VITAL for health. These fats and in particular the longer chain fatty acids derived from these fats are essential for the structure and many of the capabilities of the cells and tissues throughout our bodies. Most of us will not get enough of these fats (i.e. in the right condition) in our diet without positive action.To maximise their value other factors must be managed, including:-

  • The amount and ratio of the two principal fatty acids consumed
  • The amount of ‘derivative’ fatty acids consumed
  • Minimising consumption of refined carbohydrates
  • Enzymes obtained from raw foods

The derivative fatty acids EPA and DHA found commonly in fish oils (eg cod liver oils), and GLA (commonly found in other seed oils, eg evening primrose) are often thought as part of the EFA oils. They can have vital therapeutic properties whereas the parent oils are usually the better foundation for good health.

To achieve the optimum health with EFAs, the  general advice is:


  • All: Reduce refined carbohydrates &fruit sugars, especially fructose, to less than 50g/day and consume 10g/day of a mixed parental oil of preferably 1:2 (omeg-3:omega-6)

  • intolerances should be identified and minimised.  Food intolerances should be identified and minimised. 

  • Pre- & post-natal mothers: extra oily fish  or ‘fish oils’ to enhance DHA in infants

  • Healthy adults: 10g/day of parental oils plus 1g/day of EPA/DHA

  • Senior Adults: Oily fish plus extra DHA

  • Skin sensitivity: Extra GLA plus extra parental oils. Consider Omega 7

  • Type 2 diabetics: Reduce any fish oil supplements but increase parental oils

  • Adult depression: 1 g/day of an EPA supplement plus check Vitamin D levels

  • Auto-immune: Additional parental oils plus 1 to 1.5g/day EPA/DHA & plenty of raw vegetable juices. Check food intolerances.

  • Vegans & vegetarians: Algae based EFA derivatives are available instead of fish oils.

  • NOTE: Possibly the best way to consume fatty acids is combine with MCT oils (medium chain tryglyceride) and with high quality undenatured whey powder or with low fat cottage cheese. Ensure any parental oils are cold pressed organic virgin and any supplementary fish oils are from preferably south atlantic or artic fish stock.