Why doubly and triply essential fatty acids?

Within the fields of academic biology, medicine and nutrition the adjective ‘essential’ is used in three different ways:

  • the common usage of ‘‘must have’ or ‘cannot do without’ this or that nutrient if one wants to achieve good health. Many fatty acids, for instance, are deemed ‘essential ‘ or ‘singly essential’ in this sense, including the ‘derivative’ fatty acids

(read the article ‘Derivative fatty acids‘)

  • as a shorthand for ‘this nutrient cannot be made by the human body’. Two fatty acids may be described ‘doubly essential’ in this way – the omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – in that:
    • we cannot do without them if we want to achieve good health
    • they cannot be made by the human body so have to obtained from foods
  • as a synonym of the adjective ‘pristine’, meaning ‘in its original state’, ‘undamaged’, ‘untainted’, ‘undiminished’. If one wanted to use only the most whole, clean, vibrant nutrients one would seek out those that:
    • have been grown organically (to both maximise nutrient levels and minimise toxic chemical pesticide and fertiliser residues) and
    • are raw (uncooked) and ‘raw’, i.e. have not been exposed to temperatures exceeding 49° Centigrade/120° Fahrenheit during processing (to minimise damage to nutrient levels and viability)

If one wanted to emphasise the importance of eating only the most pristine, vibrant nutrients one might flag up these as triply essential. Many nutrients carefully extracted from organically-grown plants and non-human animals may justifiably be described ‘triply essential’ including, as we see in this article, the two fatty acids LA and ALA.

(17637)  Nick Anderson. Green Health Watch 53 27.7.2019

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