Evening Primrose Oil Might Be Your Best Solution for Essential Fatty Acids

vt-8.jpgEvening primrose oil is not your only source of omega-3s, but it might be the safest and most accessible.

Many people diet by cutting down on fats. For many, this may be a big mistake. Cutting out fats can not only inhibit weight loss and actually cause weight gain, it can also make you quite ill. The secret lies in reducing the ‘bad’ fats and increasing your intake of the ‘good’ ones — essential fatty acids (EFAs); omega-3s and omega-6s. Omega-3s are generally easy to come by but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said about omega-6s — which is why many prefer to supplement their diet with evening primrose oil. Here’s the story.

First of all, why are these nutrients called ‘essential’? Although that makes it sound like you can’t live without them, which is basically true, ‘essential’ in this sense indicates that the substances (EFAs) cannot be synthesized by the body and, therefore, have to be supplied by our food or supplements.

The omega-3 family of EFAs comprises alpha-linolenic acid (ALA or NLA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). When we take ALA, it converts to DHA and EPA.

The omega-6 family comprises:

  • linoleic acid (LA)
  • gamma-linoleic acid (GLA)
  • dihomogamma linolenic acid (DGLA)
  • arachidonic acid (AA)

Our body converts the LA to GLA, DGLA and AA. The GLA is also converted into a hormone called prostaglandin, which controls inflammation.

However, the conversion process requires an enzyme and certain nutrients. If you’re deficient in these nutrients, or in the enzymes, the conversion doesn’t happen. Many people do not get all the nutrients needed from their diets, and are also often short on enzymes. It’s often best to take supplements.

The best source of omega-3s is fish oil. As long as you can find some that doesn’t have too much mercury in it, you’re good. [Editors Note: See article on Norwegian Fish Oil]
However, some of the most common food sources for omega-6s are corn, soy, and canola oil. Because many corn and soy crops today are actually genetically modified organisms (GMOs), it’s hard to be sure of their true nutrient.

Canola oil also has problems — according to Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., Director Nutritional Sciences Division Enig Associates, Inc., canola oil has to be hydrogenated or refined to be used commercially. That process turns canola oil into trans-fatty acids — which we definitely want to avoid.

What’s the omega-6 solution? Many people now use evening primrose oil. As a natural source of GLA, evening primrose oil bypasses the need for linoleic acid conversion.

EFAs are vital to so many bodily functions and processes — they strengthen the immune system, help in the development of brain and nerve tissue, produce energy, get oxygen into the bloodstream, metabolize fats, stabilize blood sugar, and so on — you can see why the other definition of ‘essential’ also applies.

If you would like to improve your general health, increase your energy levels, and lose a few pounds in the process, stick with fats that contain EFAs. And don’t forget the evening primrose oil!

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