Essential fatty acids and inflammation: friend or foe?

It is generally known that in order to maintain good health we have two essential fatty acids that we must consume. Commonly, these are known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Research is uncovering both the anti- and pro-inflammatory roles they play, and are helping us to understand the intricacies of their influence on inflammatory diseases.  Both polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) ; omega-6 and omega-3 are considered ‘essential‘ because the body is unable to synthesise them itself, so they must be acquired through diet. Some PUFAs are considered to be ‘conditionally essential’ as there is the potential for the body to synthesise the fatty acid by converting a precursor PUFA molecule. However, this is dependent on many factors, such as the intake of other fatty acids.[1]Burdge GC, Finnegan YE, Minihane AM, Williams CM, Wootton SA. Effect of altered dietary n-3 fatty acid intake upon plasma lipid fatty acid composition, conversion of [C]α-linolenic acid to longer-chain fatty acids and partitioning towards β-oxidation in older men. Br J Nutr. 2003;90(02):311. As both omega-3 and 6 conversion pathways utilise the same enzymes, this creates competition, which may lead to the favour of a certain type of fatty acid over another.[2]Trebatická J, Dukát A, Ďuračková Z, Muchová J. …

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