Essential fatty acids – the view from Paul Pitchford

World nutrition authority Paul Pitchford says the following about fatty acids …

“Polyunsaturated oils (include) essential fatty acids (EFAs), those that the body is unable to (make).

There are two (doubly essential fatty acids) – linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Arachidonic acid (AA) is in reality a third (doubly) essential fatty acid that most people have in excess.

Based on experimentation with animals, it has been thought until very recently that linoleic acid, the most common fatty acid, was converted into AA as needed during human fat metabolism, but we now know that most humans are virtually devoid of the enzyme delta-5-desaturase, which makes that conversion possible. This metabolic pecularity may have occurred in modern humans who eat great quantities of animal products, the richest and principal source of AA. When delta-5-desaturase is not needed to create AA the body may stop producing this enzyme.

Functions of EFAs include: promote healthy, youthful skin and hair; support proper thyroid and adrenal activity and thus bolster immunity and are required for normal growth and energy; promote healthy blood, nerves and arteries; and are crucial in the transport and breakdown of cholesterol.

Deficiencies in the EFAs can lead to skin disorders such as eczema and dry, scaly skin. Other common imbalances are: dry hair and loss of hair; nail problems; gallstones; irritability; liver problems; varicose veins; susceptibility to infections; low body weight; infertility; retarded growth.

Since the use of vegetables is so widespread, it would seem that a lack of EFAs would seldom occur – but many oils contain rancid forms of these fatty acids … As polyunsaturated oils oxidise and become progressively rancid they create free radicals in the body, which foster ageing and weaken immunity. Except for truly cold-pressed, fresh flax and other similarly processed oils, we recommend that polyunsaturated oils not be used … However, when polyunsaturates are eaten (as part of) whole, unprocessed food, they (EFAs) they are preserved within the food and are usually in their freshest, most beneficial form, and contain an appropriate balance of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs.”


1 Healing with Wholefoods. Paul Pitchford. North Atlantic Books, P.O.Box 12327, Berkeley, California CA94712, USA 2002 p169 ISBN -13:978-1-55643-430-3

(17626)  Nick Anderson. Green Health Watch 22.12.2018

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