There are two primary categories of Oils Supplements, or Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 6 Series and Omega 3 Series.
Omega 3 Series are found in fish and fish oils.
And the Omega 6 Series are found in the largest amounts in Mother’s Milk, Evening Primrose Seed Oils, Black Currant Seed Oils, and Borage Seed Oils.
Other Omega 6 Series Fatty Acids include Flax Oil, Safflower Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Peanut Oil, Olive Oil and Corn Oil. These are all high in Linoleic Acid. Good sources of the third type of Omega 6 Oils are Red Meats, Dairy Products and Shellfish, each containing a wider variety of various fatty acids each.
Omega 6 Series Fatty Acids are the source for the GLA’s (gamma Linolenic Acids,) to be discussed below.
The primary purpose of Omega 3 and 6 oils in the body are as anti-inflammatory, preventing cancer growth, to stimulate the immune system, decrease cholesterol, strengthen the heart, and release neurotransmitters in the brain.
The third category of Fatty Acids are the Omega 9 Series. Omega 9 Series Fatty Acids are less studied and are not considered essential. But Omega 9 oils are very high in Oleic acid. These oils play a protective role in lowering heart attack risk and protecting against cholesterol build up. Omega 9 oils are found in olive oil, avocados, sesame oil and various nuts, like peanuts, almonds and macadamia.
More specifically, here are the various types of oils and their sources:
LA (Linoleic acid) is present in vegetables and vegetable Oils. There is no need to supplement this oil.
GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid) is found in borage & starflower & oils, evening primrose oil, black currant oil and in small amounts in human breast milk. The typical diet provides very little GLA.
AA (Arachidonic acid) is found in eggs, fish, and meat and is abundant in more diets.
ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) is found in flax seed and flax seed oil and in small amounts in nuts, green leafy vegetables, canola and wheat germ and black currant seeds.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) are found in fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and algae.
There are specific Essential Fatty Acids’s which are very useful in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Below are some of the many examples:
Heart Disease: Research shows that to maintain a healthy heart, we need a diet rich in ALA, EPA and DHA.
Arthritis and Joint Disease: GLA is shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in joint pain.
Skin Disorders, Eczema, Psoriasis: GLA’s have been related to eczema and other skin disorders.
Mental Problems, Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Shyness: Omega 3 Oils are not only good for the heart, but also for depression and other mental disorders
Other problems that respond well to essential fatty acids are gastrointestinal disorders, such as IBS, diabetes, obesity, PMS, breast tenderness, hypertension, MS, lupus, asthma, allergies and insomnia.
The only side effects of taking large amounts of Essential Fatty Acids are burping, diarrhea or stomach upset. Often these side effects will stop after continued use. But if they don’t stop, then cut down on your dosage until you find the amount that is best for you. The oils can also have a blood thinning effect, so you should consult your doctor if you are already on an anti-coagulant. Always discontinue all supplements well before any surgery or dental work as well.
During pregnancy and lactation, women generally should increase their intake of the Essential Fatty Acids. Also, during high periods of stress, and during times when you want to strengthen and support your immune system, it is good to increase your Essential Fatty Acid intake.