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Quest Vitamins LTD,
8 Venture Way,
Aston Science Park,
Birmingham,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
Fax: 0121 359 0313
Email: info@questvitamins.co.uk
Registered in England No. 2530437

Essential Fatty Acids

DESCRIPTION

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) must be obtained through the diet because the human body cannot make them. The essential fats are the polyunsaturated fats found in many plants, such as sunflower, safflower, olives, evening primrose and linseed; also in fish. There are different groups of polyunsaturated fats:-
Omega-3 from fish (and linseed) oils; omega-6 from evening primrose, (Borage,
sunflower, safflower and others), and omega-9 from olive (and linseed).

OMEGA 3 combined with OMEGA 6 has a wide ranging role in the general health of individuals, including controlling the thickness of the blood and blood clotting mechanisms; maintaining good heart function, cholesterol levels and blood pressure; helping maintain good condition of the skin; limiting the effect of rheumatoid arthritis and most importantly for children, helping the brain to develop and function efficiently.


FUNCTION

Polyunsaturated fats are important to human health because they are involved in all cell membrane structures and they also supply the raw material for the production of prostaglandins. The role of Prostaglandins Prostaglandins (PGs) derived from both polyunsaturated and saturated fats have a number of different functions in the body. Prostaglandins derived from omega-3 fatty acids are termed PG series 3 whereas those from omega-6 fats are series E1 prostaglandins (including prostacyclins, formed in arterial walls and are among the most powerful known inhibitors of platelet
aggregation; they also relax arterial walls and promote a lowering of blood pressure).


SUPPLEMENTAL USES

Supplementing the diet with these particular polyunsaturated fats/oils help to balance the dietary intake of saturated or processed fats found in meat and dairy products; ready-made pies and pastries; chocolate, potato crisps and other snack foods. Essential fatty acids have a number of important roles in the body including:

  • The fluidity and flexibility of cell membranes
  • Formation of short-lived hormone like substances called prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
  • Maintaining the health of the Skin and its permeability to water.
  • Cholesterol transport and synthesis.

A similar pathway applies to the saturated fats from most meat, animal fat, dairy products and coconut. The difference being that the pathway ends with PG 2 which produce more of the inflammatory prostaglandins than either of the anti-inflammatory PGs 1 and 3. PG series 2 includes thromboxanes (found in platelets and stimulate them to aggregate which is important in Wound
healing and also to contract the arterial wall thereby promoting an increase in blood pressure). The balance between prostacyclin and thromboxane is important for maintaining normal heart and circulatory function. However, there are also some PGs which in excess may be detrimental to health, for example by contributing to inflammatory responses (e.g. the leukotrienes which have considerable inflammatory
potential).

Blocking Factors of Fatty Acids into Prostaglandins Some factors affect the production of the enzyme delta-6-desaturase which is needed for the efficient conversion of both omega-3 and 6 fatty acids into beneficial prostaglandins, these are:-

  • viruses
  • excess cholesterol
  • saturated fats, trans fatty acids
  • excess dietary sugar
  • alcohol
  • excess alpha linolenic acid (from plant sources of omega-3)
  • the aging process
  • low amounts of vitamins B3, B6,
    C, Biotin

  • low amounts of minerals Magnesium,
    Calcium, Selenium
    and Zinc.

Omega 3 & 6 during Pregnancy

It is important that children are given the very best start in life and in this respect the correct nutrients should be consumed even before the pregnancy begins. This will not only ensure a healthy development in the womb, but it will also mean healthy breast milk being passed to the baby.

Epidemiological studies have shown that children from healthy a mother and who have been breast fed, produce higher grades at school. In the past decade or so, the importance of Omega 3 during pregnancy has been acknowledged. It is now known that Omega 3 actually plays a large role in the development and growth of the baby in the womb. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to help: Formation of brain and nervous system tissue, formation eye tissue, especially the retina. It is especially important for women to get adequate amounts of Omega 3s because babies draw on their supply.

In the third trimester of pregnancy around 70 per cent of all the cells that make up the adult brain are formed during this period. From the time a baby is born to about its first year, the brain roughly triples in size. Omega 3s are valuable both for the retina and blood supply through the tiny capillaries in the eyes.

Adequate intake of Omega 6 fatty acids is also important during pregnancy as this will not only maintain the health of the mother and developing baby, but it will also ensure that the breast milk will contain a healthy ratio (1:1) of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as quality of the breast milk reflects quality of the diet. However, the benefits of adequate intake of Omega 3+6 fatty acids during pregnancy do not only benefit the baby. They can also help the mother too, by; reducing the chance of developing pre-eclampsia, reducing the risk for post-natal depression, minimising the chance of pre-term labour

Researchers found that infants born to mothers with higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at delivery had advanced levels of attention spans into their second year of life. During the first six months of life, these infants were two months ahead of those babies whose mothers had lower DHA levels.

Recent publicity has raised the awareness of the benefit of Omega-3 oils and the role they play in the brain development of infants and how they can help in the development of a childs concentration, and therefore their ability to learn. The brain undergoes great growth spurts during the third trimester of pregnancy and the first few months after birth. Omega-3 fats are integral to the development of brain cells, contributing to the membrane that surrounds each nerve cell and facilitates the transmission of impulses through the brain.

Brain Nutrients for Kids

Omega-3 and 6 plays a role in the brain development of infants and may help in the development of a childs concentration, and therefore their ability to learn. Recent studies which investigated supplementation with omega 3 have found marked improvements in reading age, concentration and learning ability.

A considerable proportion (approximately 70%) of brain matter is made from omega 3 and poor intake may be linked to Alzheimers disease, low IQ, depression and poor mental function, anxiety, ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder), autism, dyslexia and other disorders.

IQ

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient, and is used as a unit of measurement for how intelligent a person is. IQ is determined by taking specially designed tests which will result in the person obtaining a score. The higher the score, the higher the IQ and the higher the degree of intelligence. The IQ test is largely a test of logic, rational thought and problem solving.

Studies show that the administration of Omega 3+6 fatty acids can improve a persons ability to think rationally and logically and it can also promote clear thinking for problem solving thus increasing the IQ score (i.e. their intelligence).

Dyslexia

The defining feature here is the specific problem in learning to read and write in relation to general ability or IQ. This can be characterised by difficulties with word recognition, spelling and problems with mathematics and reading are also common. Other symptoms include poor working memory and poor direction sense.

Differences in brain structure in dyslexia include an unusual symmetry of language areas and microscopic differences in the arrangement and connection of neurons (nerve cells).

ADHD

ADHD is a disorder characterised by consistent inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness. In order to help children to achieve their full potential, they should receive guidance and understanding from parents.

Many children with dyslexia or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can benefit hugely from taking Omega 3 fish oil supplements.

Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops and functions, with symptoms usually expressing before the age of 3. It is characterised by lack of social responsiveness including touch and eye contact. Language skills may be poor and there is a tendency for repetitive motion like spinning and flapping.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids may help the symptoms of all of the above conditions (ADHD, dyslexia, autism and low IQ) by balancing the part of the brain cell that is involved in the passage of neurotransmitters (communication between brain cells). It is thought that when this passage becomes impaired due to an imbalanced intake of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, communication between brain cells is inefficient.


INTERACTIONS & CONTRA-INDICATIONS

This is dependent on which EFA is being taken, such as EPO or Fish
Oil
. Since essential fatty acids have a mild blood thinning effect, it is not advisable to use blood thinning medications, such as warfarin, in conjunction.

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