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The importance of Essential Fatty Acids to Women’s Health

These days, many of us neglect the importance of quality oils and fats in maintaining our health and the prevention of certain diseases.
Essential fatty acids play an important role in producing hormones, cell membrane function, regulating pain, inflammation and swelling, dilating or constricting blood vessels, mediating our immune response, regulating smooth muscle responses, preventing blood clots, regulating blood pressure and nerve transmission, regulating cholesterol levels, and much, much more. Deficiencies of essential fatty acids can lead to many health problems for men and women and some that are particular to women.
The Fatty Acid Science
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) must be obtained from the diet or supplementation because our bodies cannot make them. Although all fatty acids are the major building blocks of all fats, the most important ones are linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). LA is an essential omega-6 fatty acid and ALA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. We need both omega-6 and omega-3 oils but the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 oils is critical to the proper metabolism of prostaglandins which are important for the regulation of inflammation, pain, blood pressure, fluid balance, blood clotting, steroid production and hormone synthesis, heart, kidney and gut function, and nerve function.
Without adequate amounts of GLA and EPA, prostaglandin 1 and 3 production will be reduced. With an improper balance between omega-6 oils and omega-3 oils, too much prostaglandin series 2 (PGE2) will be produced which is a pro-inflammatory prostaglandin. Both a reduction in the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and an increase in the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins lead to problems. For women, these problems may include premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, abnormal menstrual bleeding, pregnancy related problems and fetal development, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and breast disease.
Premenstrual syndrome
The main strategy of supplementing with essential fatty acids for PMS is an attempt to raise the body’s own formation of PGE1. The most popular method of doing so has been to supplement with evening primrose oil products in order to supply increased levels of gamma linolenic acid. The effects of EPO have been shown to be best for clumsiness and headaches although all symptoms including depression, irritability, bloating and breast tenderness showed a marked improvement. Other sources of oils that contain gamma linolenic acid and raise PGE1 include borage oil, black currant oil and rape seed oil.
Menstrual cramps
The best medicinal foods for menstrual cramps are those foods that increase the antispasmodic prostaglandins, the PGE1 series and the PGE3 series. Certain fish, like salmon, tuna, halibut, and sardines contain linolenic acid, which is a fatty acid that helps to relax muscles by the production of these prostaglandins. There are many seeds and nuts that are sources of linoleic acid and linolenic acid, which also then produce these muscle relaxing prostaglandins. The best seed sources of both these fatty acids are flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds. Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of linoleic acid.
Sunflower Seeds
In the second half of the menstrual cycle, omega-6 fatty acids, particularly arachidonic acid, are released. Subsequently, an increase in PGE2 occurs, causing uterine contractions leading to a lack of oxygen to the uterine muscles and the subsequent pain. Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, compete with omega-6 fatty acids and result in the production of the PGE-1 and 3 series. Based on these observations, the use of essential fatty acid supplementation can be very effective in the prevention and treatment of menstrual cramps.
Supplementation with flax oil (high in omega-3 fatty acids), borage oil (high in LA and GLA), black currant oil (high in LA and GLA), evening primrose oil(high in LA and GLA), and fish oils (high in omega- 3 oils), is one way of favorably altering the synthesis of the beneficial prostaglandins; the end result likely will be less uterine contractions and less menstrual pains.
After the rise of progesterone in the second half of the menstrual cycle followed by its decline right before menstruation – progesterone withdrawal – omega-6 fatty acids, particularly arachidonic acid, are released. Subsequently, an increase in PGF2 alpha and PGE2 occurs, causing uterine contractions leading to ischemia and pain. Instead of inhibiting ovulation and therefore the progesterone effect, or inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, compete with omega-6 fatty acids and result in the production of the PGE1 and PGE3 series. Based on these observations, the use of fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids as a supplement seems logical and attractive.


For your GLA (Omega-6) supplements, click here
For your Omega-3 supplements, click here
*These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease
For more information and to order, contact:
Melissa Raffur
Shaklee Independent Distributor [ID: 889132]
SMS/Whatsapp: 012 296 6442

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