Which of the following information is/are TRUE ABOUT Essential Fatty Acids? [Select ALL That Apply]
a. Linoleic and alpha-linolenic are essential fatty acids.
b. Arachidonic acid is classified as 'conditionally essential' fatty acid.
c. Ideally, in the diet, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be between 1:1 and 4:1.
d. Excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids can cause the deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids.
Answer (a, b, c and d). Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them.
Only two fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Some other fatty acids are sometimes classified as "conditionally essential," meaning that they can become essential under some developmental or disease conditions; examples include docosahexaenoic acid and gamma-linolenic acid.
It is not only important to incorporate good sources of omega-3 and omega-6s in a diet, but also consume these fatty acids in the proper ratio. Omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3 fatty acids for use in the body, and therefore excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids can inhibit the use of omega-3 fatty acids by the body.
Ideally, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be between 1:1 and 4:1. Instead, most Americans consume these fatty acids at a ratio of omega-6: omega-3 between 10:1 and 25:1, and are consequently unable to reap the benefits of omega-3s.
This imbalance is due to a reliance on processed foods and oils, which are now common in the Western diet. To combat this issue it is necessary to eat a low-fat diet with minimal processed foods and with naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids. A lower omega-6: omega-3 ratio is desirable for reducing the risk of many chronic diseases.
Arachidonic acid is not one of the essential fatty acids. However, it does become essential if there is a deficiency in linoleic acid or if there is an inability to convert linoleic acid to arachidonic acid.
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