We all know that a diet lacking in essential fatty acids is not good for us. However, what is essential fatty acid? It is a type of fat that our bodies cannot produce on their own. It can increase immunity, improve cell signaling, and even reduce inflammation. It may even improve cognition and prevent certain neurological diseases. However, there are certain factors to consider before deciding on a supplement or diet. Listed below are some of the benefits of consuming a healthy balance of essential fatty acids.
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The human body cannot synthesize ALA and EPA. However, it does convert ALA to EPA and DHA through a process called lipolysis. However, the conversion rate for ALA to EPA and DHA is only 8% and 4%, respectively. In young women, the capacity to synthesize the long-chain PUFA from ALA is higher, and this is probably related to estrogen effects. These findings suggest that the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is conditionally essential for human health.
However, few trials have been performed on infants whose growth is too early to determine whether supplementing diets with DHA is beneficial for development. In the DINO trial, 657 preterm infants (31 gestational weeks) were compared to infants receiving standard amounts of EPA and DHA. The researchers concluded that dietary DHA could improve the brain’s development, but the effect was modest and not statistically significant.