Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are sometimes referred to as Vitamin F. It refers to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Vitamin F is composed of two fatty acids – iinoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linoleic acid (LNA).
Linoleic acid is considered to be the most complete fatty acid. There are two basic categories of EFA’s – omega-3 and omega-6, which include linoleic acid and gamma-linoleic acid.
The body is not capable of manufacturing essential fatty acids and so they have to be derived only from food. Omega-6 essential fatty acid is found in raw nuts, seeds, legumes, grape seed oil and flaxseed oil; while omega-3 essential fatty acid is found in fish, canola oil and walnut oil.
The recommended dietary allowance of EFAs for adults is 1-2 % of the total daily caloric intake.
The primary function of these fatty acids is to repair and create tissue in the body. They also help with metabolism, healing, reproductive health and skin and hair growth.
Deficiency leads to dry eyes, easy skin bruising, delay in the healing process, and dull hair and skin.
Vitamin F is generally considered safe for daily consumption and toxicity has not been reported so far. It does not interact with most medicines. However, one should always consult a health care provider while adding a nutritional supplement to the diet.