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What Makes Essential Fatty Acids So Essential?

Written by OmegaXL on May 15, 2014

All of the fats we eat are more scientifically known as fatty acids. These fatty acids are necessary for a variety of metabolic functions and are also used to build some tissues. Our amazing bodies can breakdown different types of fats and use the pieces to create compounds it needs. However, there are two types of fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3, we must have to survive that our bodies can’t synthesize, so we have to get them in our diets. That is why they are called the “essential” fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids make up most of our brain matter as well as the connections between our neurons. Therefore, they are essential to the healthy functioning of our brains and nervous system. Omega-6 and omega-3 also help maintain our skin and bones. Compounds our bodies derive from essential fatty acids help move nutrients in and out of cells and also help our endocrine systems function.

You can find plentiful omega-6 fatty acids in most vegetable oils and in grains. Although one type of omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, is found in walnut oil, the best dietary sources of omega-3s is fatty ocean fish like salmon and mackerel, and other seafood.

Even though omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are used in conjunction for a lot of functions, they differ in one big way…omega 6s promote inflammation whereas omega-3s fight it. Widespread inflammation throughout the body – even if it is mild enough that you can’t feel it – is known to contribute to a myriad of health problems and diseases. That is why it is so important to balance your intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The problem is omega-6 fatty acids are far more plentiful in the typical diet than omega-3s. In fact, most of us get between 6 and 15 times our recommended intake of omega-6s and about one third our recommended omega-3s. For this reason, many people choose to increase their omega-3 fatty acid intake with a supplement like Omega XL® for better balance and better health.