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Fatty acids have many functions in the body, and play a role in:
- oxygen transport throughout the body
- providing energy (when glucose, a form of sugar, is not available)
- development of strong tissues and organs
- brain functioning
- lowering cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease
- healthy looking skin
- immune system health
Fatty acids, in particular essential fatty acids (EFAs) -- alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6) -- are intimately related to managing inflammation in the body. Fatty acids provide the building blocks for your body to make prostaglandins, agents that increase and decrease inflammation in the body. In a nutshell, saturated fats create the prostaglandins that increase inflammation and omega-6 and omega-3 create the prostaglandins that decrease inflammation. Both inflammation and anti-inflammation are important functions in our bodies, because they are the agents of healing. But as important as it is to be able to inflame (bring healing agents to a site of damage in your body), it is just as important to then be able to anti-inflame, removing those healing agents when they've done their job. We need to have a balance of both.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.