Why do we need EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids)?
What makes up the essential fatty acids, one of which is Omega 3. These are the poly and mono-unsaturated fats, which are deemed to be essential to life. From a nutritional point of view, when we talk about ‘essential’ it indicates that we can’t actually make them within our body, we have to obtain them from the food we eat.
Therefore we need to make sure we have an adequate intake through our diet on a daily basis. There are two main types of essential fats called Omega 3 and Omega 6. There is also Omega 9, which isn’t deemed essential as we can make within our bodies, if we have the right balance of nutrients.
Why does our body need these types of fats and why are they essential to us? They have many important uses, but we are going to take a closer look at the two main reasons.
The Omega oils form part of every single cell membrane in the body and are responsible for ensuring the cell membrane is permeable. We have trillions of cells, and every cell should have a lipid membrane around it that allows that nutrients and fluids to move in and out of the cell easily. This means that waste products can also be taken out of the cell easily.
If the body doesn’t have a good supply of these lipid fats, then it has to use saturated fats in order to fulfil this function. The effect saturated fat has on a membrane is actually very different to that of a lipid fat. It makes it a much denser, much tougher membrane that doesn’t allow fluidity. As a result, nutrients don’t get in so easily and waste doesn’t leave as easily. Also, if the cell membrane is misshapen, the receptors which sit on it can also lose their ability to bond to hormones and enzymes. This is important because it affect the workings in the cell. So the essential fats are vital for the functioning of every single cell in the body in order for us to remain healthy.