Feeling depressed? Essential Fatty Acids Can Fix That
Our bodies need numerous nutrients to function properly and fatty acids are no exception. While we can synthesize some of them by processing food, there is one group of fatty acids that we cannot produce ourselves. Just like vitamin D, we have to supply our cells with them through food. This is why we call them essential fatty acids.
Perhaps this doesn’t ring a bell but you have probably heard the terms omega-3 and omega-6 acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 are exactly those essential fatty acids (EFA) we need but cannot synthesize. In this case, it is of crucial importance to our health to pay attention to our diet because it is easy to fight EFA deficiency.
Symptoms of essential fatty acids insufficiensy
But first things first, why are omega-3 and omega-6 that important? Because we can easily run short of them and because their absence can lead to both physical and mental symptoms. Some of the following may be due to EFA insufficiency:
- Intense thirst
- Dry and flaky skin
- Uneven and dull skin
- Brittle fingernails/cracked heels or fingertips
Of course, these are just the physical expressions of EFA deficiency. Some researchers suggest that depression and anxiety are also connected with low levels of omega-3 and omega-6. So yes, it’s safe to say that your diet can affect your mood 🙂
Where to find Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids
Fortunately, it is quite simple to turn things around. We just have to be a little bit more careful when choosing our menu. Omega-3 and omega-6 acids can be found in common foods such as flaxseed and flaxseed oil, oil from sunflower, perilla, hempseed, soybean, and safflower. Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and your regular Brussels sprout are also rich in essential fatty acids. Add some fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring or trout to your menu and you are basically there. Needless to say, fish oil and food supplements can help you fix your EFA deficiency in a quick and easy manner.
What are the benefits of essential fatty acids?
When we intake enough amount of omega-3 and omega-6 we actually promote our physical and mental health. Therefore, these are some of the main benefits of EFA:
- reduced risk of heart disease and blood pressure
- improved cognition due to more gray matter in the brain
- fewer depression symptoms
- reduced joint pain
- less inflammation and generally stronger immune system
Essential fatty acids are also major factors for the fetal brain development and fetal growth. This is why it is advisable that during lactation and pregnancy women do stick to omega-3 and omega-6 rich nutrients. EFA are associated with improved cognitive outcomes and enhanced tissue development. Food supplements are often recommended for pregnant and lactating women.