Precious Yet Perilous — Understanding the Essential Fatty Acids

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My new article in the current Fall Wise Traditions is already up online, unexpectedly soon, and you can read it here:

Precious Yet Perilous — Understanding the Essential Fatty Acids

It's jam-packed full of important information but is lighter, shorter, and easier to read than my PUFA Report Part I, is updated with a little bit of what is forthcoming in the long-awaited and to my enormous discredit very very late PUFA Report Part II, and is fun to read if you like histories and mysteries.

Enjoy!

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21 Comments

  1. Chris,

    What do you think of the fact that children are born with an "essential" fatty acid deficiency? Isn't that a pretty good indication that the fatty acids are not essential?

    Also What do you think of the case of William Brown who ate no fat at all for six months, and reversed several chronic health problems he had. Note: I'm not trying to suggest that a fat-free diet is ideal, obviously some saturated fat in the diet is protective.

  2. Hi Chris,

    I suspect it will behave like most other fish oils, but like I said, there are probably particular dietary factors that are protective, we just don't know which ones they are and can't say for sure if that's true. I would use any fish oil in very small amounts, personally, and I myself use cod liver oil instead.

    Dave,

    Thanks!

    Jeremy,

    I don't know exactly, though I believe Dave is working on testing lots of quinones, some of which he thinks might have additional vitamin K-like activity, so it's a very interesting topic.

    Spencer,

    Eggs and liver are by far and away the most abundant sources of arachidonic acid, choline, and biotin. I think we'd all be better off if everyone were consuming a heck of a lot more choline. Egg yolks are a lot easier to eat than liver for most people, and it's nice to have some variation. Egg yolks on the whole are very nutritious. They do have a bit of PUFA, and they should be eaten in moderation, in my opinion. I do not know exactly what pastured eggs are like but I suspect they are much lower in linoleic acid and have a very different fatty acid profile than store eggs.

    Chris

  3. Hey Chris,

    Great article, I'm gonna have a hell of a time digging through all those references!

    Question: Why do you recommend eggs, when they have a relatively high PUFA load? While I'm sure pastured eggs are better, I'm skeptical that they still wouldn't be high in PUFA.

    Cheers,
    Spencer

  4. Chris — Thanks for the post. You are a prolific writer and working on a degree at the same time so don't be so hard on yourself about being "late" on your PUFA article 🙂

  5. Chris,

    I've been curious for awhile as I've never seen studies or comparisons, but I take a fish oil from VitalChoice.com which is unfiltered salmon oil therefore it has the orange antioxidant (forget the name & don't have time to look up right now, something that begins with an X I am sure) as well as small doses of vitamin A & D. Obviously, they claim this is superior but like I've said I know of no studies that use pure, unfiltered fish oil. Any thoughts or insights?

    thanks,
    Chris

  6. Hi Jeremy,

    I don't think there is solid evidence to give prescriptions for specific amounts of cod liver oil. Price urged using a maximum of one teaspoon per day for long-term use in children, and didn't comment on use in adults. Bennett studied cod liver oil use all over the world before Price's time and found it was universally used as a treatment with larger amounts for shorter periods of time (i.e. tablespoons for days or 1-2 tespoons for months). He warned that several teaspoons over 7-8 months would eventually result in toxic symptoms in many people, as described in my article, suggesting possible effects of EPA interfering with AA. Bennett suggested that cod liver oil was most effective when used with a diet rich in animal fat. Price reported that butter oil allowed him to use a lower dose of cod liver oil so as to reduce chances of CLO toxicity.

    I think that unless you're treating something specific that is responding well to higher doses, you should probably limit it to 0.5 or 1.0 teaspoons/day, and this should be in the context of a diet rich in egg yolks, butter, liver, etc.

    In all likelihood, many factors in traditional diets, including arachidonic acid but probably many antioxidant factors, render marine oils much safer, but too much is unknown to go out overdosing or to make a universal recommendation against a specific amount as being too high.

    I think "listening to your body" is, while a little cliche, very important here. I think the symptom guide I included at the end of the article should be used to help people determine whether they have too much or not enough. And, of course, pay attention to all aspects of your health. That's about as concrete as I can get right now.

    Hope that helps,
    Chris

  7. Do you want to give more concrete recommendations on cod liver oil and salmon intake? As you know, many WAFPers chronically take a large amount of cod liver oil. You would recommend stopping cod liver oil as a frequent supplement?

  8. Okay, but the point is that B6 does not directly reverse the deficiency symptoms; that is, assuming no stored PUFA and a purified, no PUFA diet, B6 administration would not be of any help, correct?

  9. Hi John,

    Well the B6 increases the ability to synthesize the longer-chain, physiological essential fatty acids at the time it is given.

    The trouble with the generational effect is that the fatty acids are much more difficult to replete in the brain after the window of brain development. However, I think given enough time, you could very slowly replete them. And, in any case, you should be able to replete them if you intervene at any generation, I *suspect.* In other words, if you have two generation of constant deficiency, you get a worse effect, but that doesn't mean you can't intervene in the second generation during the window of development and completely correct it.

    In any case, the effect of giving B6 would be similar to the effect of giving arachidonic acid and DHA. So, a little mammal liver and a little fish should do the trick. You get the fatty acids and the B6!

    Chris

  10. Hi Chris,

    Excellent article–I was previously unaware that the "curative" effect of b6 is actually due to the conversion of stored LA to AA. What would happen if b6 was given after multi generations lacking PUFA?

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