Author: John A. Senneff
Source: Numb Toes and Other Woes: More on Peripheral Neuropathy
Many people coming across the term “fatty acids” for the first time think they sound like something that should be definitely avoided. After all, we’ve been taught “fat” is not good for us-at least too much of it-and acids, well, they’re better left in the laboratory. Of course the word “essential” does tend to put a different spin on it.
Toes and Soles discussed in brief the role of essential fatty acids or EFAs, in dealing with peripheral neuropathy. To start with, these are polyunsaturated lipids, not the saturated kinds of fats found in many animal products.
EFAs are components of cell membranes the body needs but cannot manufacture itself. Diets rich in polyunsaturated fats such as EFAs increase the fluidity of these membranes. On the other hand diets high in saturated fats tend to lead to rigid and unhealthy cell membranes.
EFAs are also precursors of prostaglandins. These latter substances are hormones which facilitate many processes such as energy production, the transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream and the manufacture of hemoglobin. In addition to transporting oxygen, their particular importance to us lies in their assistance in the transmission of nerve impulses and possibly in the enhancement of nerve regeneration.
There are two main EFA groups: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The terms refer to their differing chemical structures. Omega-3s are found in cold water fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, and halibut, as well as flaxseed oil. Omega-6s are constituents of many vegetable oils such as borage seed, and black currant as well as evening primrose oil.