Mother Earth Living

Up your Nutrition with Multi-EFA Supplements

Learn how these natural multi-EFA supplements provide a natural way to improve your nutrition combined with a healthy diet.
By Ann Louise Gittleman, N.D. M.S., C.N.S.
November/December 2001
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Improve your overall nutrition by using multi-EFA supplements.
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Learn how to increase your nutrition by using natural multi-EFA supplements as part of your diet.

Up your Nutrition with Multi-EFA Supplements

Get your healthy fats the easy way using multi-EFA supplements.

Do you take a multivitamin every day? If so, you might be surprised to learn that it may not be enough for optimum health. Mounting research suggests that getting the right amount of essential fatty acids is as important as getting your daily vitamins. To help meet daily needs for essential fats, I now recommend a “multi-EFA” to all of my clients as part of their regular supplementation program.

EFAs are necessary to support a variety of cellular processes. They maintain the integrity of cell walls and membranes, generate energy, produce hormones, and help with normal brain, nerve, and eye function. They also aid in combating numerous health concerns such as elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, mental disorders, diabetic neuropathy, menstrual and menopausal discomforts, eczema, psoriasis, and even cancer.

Interestingly, researcher Hugh Sinclair observed the vital connection between fats and disease almost fifty years ago. His remarks, published in the medical journal Lancet, cited an imbalance in fat metabolism as the underlying cause behind a number of diseases occurring worldwide. According to Sinclair, the modern diet—loaded with processed foods and hydrogenated fats and practically void of EFAs—was the primary culprit.

In addition to the health challenges produced by diets high in saturated and trans fats, we have also been experiencing the disastrous results of the no-to-low-fat diet trend of recent years. What the advocates of the no-fat diet didn’t tell us was that omitting the essential fats would set the stage for hair and skin conditions such as dandruff, psoriasis, dryness, hair thinning, and eczema. No-fat diets can also aggravate joint problems, inflammation, and PMS, as well as depression and other mental-health disorders.

The Fabulous Four EFAs

A healthy balance of EFAs is critical to health. In fact, each EFA plays a distinct and valuable role in the optimal functioning of the entire body. Just as you need the right combination of vitamins and minerals, your body also needs the right balance of EFAs for proper metabolic functions. The EFAs include alpha linolenic acid (ALA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha linolenic acid, predominantly found in flaxseeds, has shown great promise in helping the body with cancer prevention, improving male fertility, protecting against heart disease, and in improving immune function. ALA can also be converted by the body to other essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that are well-known for their positive effect on brain function, cardiac arrhythmia, and high blood triglycerides.

Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Gamma linolenic acid is recognized for its success in a variety of areas. It’s a PMS soother, arthritis alleviator, and beautifier. GLA is effective especially for cramping, irritability, headaches, and sunburn because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Although GLA can be synthesized from the raw material linoleic acid, found in vegetable oils, there are numerous dietary and lifestyle factors that disrupt this conversion. For example, consumption of sugar, alcohol, trans fats, and lack of minerals and vitamins can prevent the GLA transformation. The richest food source of GLA is borage seed oil.


Research with the omega-3s EPA and DHA has shown great promise in a variety of areas, including hypertension, high blood triglycerides, irregular heartbeat, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and infant brain development. Both EPA and DHA are deficient in individuals suffering from aggression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In January 2001, a landmark study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study examined the diets of 80,000 female nurses over the course of fourteen years and found that the risk of stroke due to blood clotting can be reduced by almost 50 percent by eating fish two to four times a week. The authors believe that the benefits were gained through the omega-3 content of the fish.

The Multi-EFA

While there are food choices that can help you get the balance of EFAs you need every day, this may be difficult if you have a hectic lifestyle. And there are those of us who are simply not flax or fish lovers, so getting all of your EFAs from food may not be as easy as it sounds. The easiest way to boost your daily intake of healthy fats is to look for a multi-EFA combination, which typically contains a blend of borage, fish, and flaxseed oils supplying a balance of EFAs. For a maintenance dosage, try 2 to 4 capsules daily. For those with specific conditions, higher dosages of individual EFAs can be taken as therapeutic supplements. The bottom line is that a daily dose of good fats is a vital component of overall health and well-being. Essential fatty acids should be a part of your basic supplementation program along with your multivitamin and multimineral tablet.

Ann Louise Gittleman, N.D., M.S., C.N.S., is one of the foremost nutritionists in the United States. She is the author of the best-selling books Eat Fat, Lose Weight (Keats, 1999) and Why Am I Always So Tired? (Harper San Francisco, 1999).

Read more about soybean foods and your health: Natural Healing Using Soybean Foods.

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