Essential Fatty Acids Explained

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Interviewer: Doctor, let's just talk about essential fatty acids. Explain
what they are and their function in the body.

Dr. Dyerberg: It's a rather difficult thing, but there are some things in
our food that is essential fatty acids. The strange thing is that fatty
acids are part of lipids that we eat, and we eat them far too much. We eat
100 grams or more of fat, which are triglycerides which are free fatty
acids molecules. These fatty acids are used for energy, either burning them
directly or as many of us in America do, store them in our deposits and get
heavier and heavier. Aside from being stored in deposits, some of the fatty
acids have essential function in the body. The body can make fatty acids.
The body doesn't need to, but it cannot make these essential fatty acids
that are necessary for a lot of things in our body. For example, there are
parts in our cell membranes. Every cell has a double layer of fatty acids
packed to separate the cell interior from the exterior. Some of these fatty
acids have essential functions in our body, and you cannot make them
yourself. You have to eat them.

These essential fatty acids are by chemical nature separated into 2
families. We call it the Omega-6 family and the Omega-3 family. They are 2
different families. You cannot make one or the other in your body. You have
to have both of them. The essential thing is until we, way back in the
1970's, introduced the concept of Omega-3 fatty acids, medicine and
nutrition only focused on the Omega-6 side, polyunsaturated fatty acids
found in vegetable, corn, and sunflower seed oil. So, we have a lot of that
in our food. But the other essential family, the Omega-3 family, is found
mostly in seafood. They are made in plankton and eaten by small things,
then fish, then seals, then humans. That's how we get them in our body. We
don't find them in vegetables or farm products. They are only in marine
sources. Both of them are essential because they are part of cell
membranes, brains, eyes, and give rise to hormone substance formation.

Interviewer: Are there symptoms or conditions that might suggest we're not
getting enough?

Dr. Dyerberg: Yeah, that's very difficult. It's not like when you get an
ulcer in your stomach. It influences general health. It's not that easy to
just point out a symptom and say "you have deficiency" of essential fatty
acids. I can add that we do not have deficiencies in Omega-6 because we eat
10 or 20 grams a day in our food and put it in our salad dressing. On the
contrary, we have a nutrition deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids. That might
give rise to some of the symptoms we have, blood clotting, inflammatory
disorders, and brainwise. You cannot pick out one particular symptom. You
can only say if you add them to your diet as fish or supplement, you
improve your general health conditions in many different aspects.
Dr. Jørn Dyerberg gives a good explanation of what exactly essential fatty acids are. He discusses why they are 'essential' and what some of their roles might be in the body. He also discusses whether or not you can tell someone has a deficiency based on they type of symptoms or conditions they might have.

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