EFAs, are fatty acids that cannot be constructed within an organism from other components (generally all references are to humans) by any known chemical pathways; and therefore must be obtained from the diet. The term refers to those involved in biological processes, and not fatty acids which may just play a role as fuel. As many of the compounds created from essential fatty acids can be taken directly in the diet, it is possible that the amounts required in the diet (if any) are overestimated. It is also possible they can be underestimated as organisms can still survive in unideal, malnourished conditions.Essential Fatty Acids are the "good fats" all over the news these days, and a very hot research topic. More is known about them every week as more studies come forward
Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids (EFAs), which means that they are essential to human health but cannot be made in the body. For this reason, they must be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids are another important group of essential fatty acids. Together, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. EFAs belong to the class of fatty acids called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). They are generally necessary for stimulating skin and hair growth, maintaining bone health, regulating metabolism, and maintaining reproductive capability.
Deficiencies in EFAs can lead to reduced growth, a scaly rash called dermatitis, infertility, and lack of ability to fight infection and heal wounds. Lack of omega-6 fatty acids, however, is extremely rare in diets of those living in certain Western countries, particularly the United States, as well as Israel. In fact, North American and Israeli diets tend to have too much omega-6, particularly in relation to omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance contributes to long-term diseases such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, and depression. A healthy diet should consist of roughly one omega-3 fatty acids to four omega-6 fatty acids. A typical American diet, however, tends to contain 11 to 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids.