Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids are known as essential because the body cannot synthesise them on its own, so they must be obtained from our diet. Essential fatty acids consist of Omega 3 (linolenic acid) and Omega 6 (linoleic acid). They are essential for the health of our skin, joints, brain, eyes, and every cell membrane in the body. The body is able to produce Omega 9 itself, and so is not considered to be an essential fatty acid.
Omega 3 is converted by the body into EPA and DHA. Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory effects, helps to thin the blood and prevent it from clotting, lubricates the joints, lowers cholesterol, maintains the health of all of the cell membranes in the body, and feeds the hair, skin and nails. Omega 6 is converted into GLA in the body, helping to improve the health of our skin, hair and nails, arthritic conditions, and relief of pre-menstrual symptoms.
Western diets tend to contain high levels of omega 6, so if you supplement with a source of Omega 6, ensure that you take Omega 3 also in order to keep the ratio between the two in balance, as excess Omega 6 can contribute to inflammatory conditions.