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Everything you need to know about Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are crucial for our health. However, our body lacks the ability to produce them naturally, making it necessary to obtain them through dietary intake.

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What are Essential Fatty Acids?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are crucial for our health. However, our body lacks the ability to produce them naturally, making it necessary to obtain them through dietary intake. EFAs comprise two distinct types - the omega-3 and omega-6 families.

EFAs are a cornerstone of human health, and as we delve into the importance of EFAs, let's explore the historical significance that has shaped our understanding of these vital nutrients.


Fats are a crucial component of our everyday diet and belong to a wider category of compounds called lipids. These lipids play a pivotal role in maintaining our health, forming the building blocks of our cell membranes and constituting a significant portion, around 50-60%, of our brain's weight.6 A closer look at these brain lipids reveals that about 35% of them are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which include omega-3 essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA and the omega-6 essential fatty acid GLA.

The body cannot produce these essential fatty acids, thus necessitating their intake through our diet. In recent times, fish oil and evening primrose oil have been identified as rich sources of omega-3s and omega-6, respectively. These EFAs not only form integral components of cell membranes but, research suggests, they also significantly influence the development and functioning of our central nervous system, brain and neurons.5

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Examples


Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) is a key omega-3 fatty acid known for its pivotal role in supporting cardiovascular health, reducing inflammation, and promoting brain function. Clinical research has consistently highlighted the positive health outcomes demonstrated through EPA consumption.


Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), another omega-3 fatty acid, is integral to healthy brain development. Multiple clinical trials emphasise the positive impact of DHA on learning and language development in children.1-4

Omega-6 Fatty Acids Examples


Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid, plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin and supporting immune function. Understanding the diverse benefits of these essential fatty acids allows us to appreciate the intricate balance required for optimal health.

What are the benefits of Essential Fatty Acids?

So, why are essential fatty acids so beneficial?

  1. EPA Benefits

    • Support for Brain Health and Cognitive Function: EPA has shown promising support for brain health and cognitive function, essential aspects of early childhood development. Ensuring an adequate supply of EPA becomes integral to a child's rapidly developing brain, fostering a healthy and resilient foundation for future learning and wellbeing.
  2. DHA Benefits

    • Promoting Healthy Brain Development: Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), crucial during pregnancy, plays a pivotal role throughout childhood by promoting healthy brain development in infants.
    • Cognitive Function Support: As a key component of brain cell membranes, DHA positively influences cognitive functions, supporting memory, attention, and overall cognitive development in childhood.
  3. GLA Benefits
    • Managing Inflammatory Conditions: Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) plays a vital role in early childhood by effectively managing inflammatory conditions, ensuring your child's overall wellbeing.
    • Promoting Skin Health: GLA contributes to promoting skin health, and children with a deficiency in GLA may exhibit symptoms such as dry skin and impaired immune function.
    • Enhancing Immune Resilience: By incorporating GLA into your child's diet or supplementation routine, you actively contribute to their overall wellbeing, supporting the skin's integrity and enhancing the resilience of their developing immune system.

Summary: EPA and DHA benefits

The combined benefits of both EPA and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) create a powerful synergy that uniquely caters to the early developmental needs of your child. This dynamic duo not only nurtures cardiovascular health but also plays a pivotal role in cognitive function, setting the stage for optimal learning and overall wellbeing during the critical early years.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support concentration, learning, reading, and healthy brain development.1-4 As you guide your child through these formative stages, consider the impact that EPA and DHA can have on their early development, providing a solid foundation for a healthy and vibrant future.

Essential Fatty Acids and Concentration

The human body relies on a delicate balance of essential fatty acids for optimal functioning. The role of EFAs extends beyond basic health maintenance and significantly impacts cognitive functioning, particularly in early childhood development.

  • Several studies indicate that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the primary constituents of EFAs, are vital for optimal brain function in children.
  • They aid in the formation and maintenance of neuronal cell membranes, enhancing their fluidity.
  • Improved fluidity facilitates the transportation of nutrients and neurotransmitters, which are key to the cognitive processes underlying concentration in early childhood.
  • DHA significantly influences brain plasticity in young children, improving memory, attention span, and problem-solving abilities. A deficiency in EFAs during early childhood can affect cognition, focus, and attention.

A balanced intake of EFAs through diet or supplementation can bolster cognitive function and enhance concentration in early childhood development.

EQUAZEN is part of the carefully developed range of naturally sourced medicines that follow the source-to-patient philosophy. The result of extensive research and expert formulation, EQUAZEN offers the optimal balance of fish oil, rich in omega-3s (EPA & DHA) and evening primrose oil, which provides a high source of omega-6 (GLA). This blend, also known as the EQUABALANCE ratio, reflects the ideal ratio seen in clinical research.

Let's delve into the intricacies behind the extensive EQUABALANCE research.

What is the EQUABALANCE ratio?

Offering a scientifically-backed solution for those seeking comprehensive essential fatty acid support, the EQUABALANCE ratio comprises an optimal balance of EPA:DHA:GLA, that is 9:3:1 (9 parts of EPA, 3 parts of DHA, 1 part of GLA).

This specific ratio is designed to reflect those used in clinical trials, ensuring that each element contributes harmoniously to the body's overall health.

This ratio has been researched in 12 clinical studies.1-4,7-14 with evidence showing that EQUAZEN can help support the following cognitive functions:1-2

  • Concentration
  • Attention Span
  • Learning such as reading and writing
  • Working memory

Essential Fatty Acids are not just nutrients; they are the building blocks of a healthy, thriving life. Prior to adjusting diets or introducing supplementation, we encourage further education to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic. The early childhood learning eBook from SFI Health, entitled Learn Naturally, answers common questions about brain development in children through expert insights, recipes, and lifestyle tips for supporting kids' cognitive health.

As you explore the profound benefits of EFAs, consider the EQUAZEN range from SFI Health — a trusted provider committed to the wellbeing of you and your family. We want to help you make informed choices to empower your health journey and embrace the vitality that comes with essential fatty acids.

Essential Fatty Acids FAQs

What are the 5 food sources of essential fatty acids?

Maintaining a diet rich in fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and algae oil ensures a diverse and balanced intake of essential fatty acids.

What is EPA and DHA good for?

EPA and DHA are particularly beneficial for mental wellbeing and healthy brain development, but also cardiovascular health - making them essential for individuals of all ages.

Who should not take EPA and DHA?

While generally safe for most individuals, those with bleeding disorders or taking blood-thinning medications should exercise caution when considering EPA and DHA supplementation. Always speak to a health professional before taking supplements, especially if you are planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant, or breastfeeding.

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Learn how to improve your child’s focus and concentration with health insights from our experts.


  1. Johnson M et al., J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;58(1):83-93. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12614.
  2. Parletta N et al., Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Aug;89(2-3)
  3. Bauer I et al., Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014 Mar;29(2):133-44. Funded by Novasel Australia.
  4. Bauer I et al., PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28214.
  5. EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1796. DOI:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.179
  6. Assisi A. et al. Fish oil and mental health: the role of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in cognitive development and neurological disorders. International clinical pharmacology 2006,21:319-336
  7. Sinn N and Bryan J. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007;28(2):82-91.
  8. Barragan-Perez, E.J., Heredia-Barragan, I., and Huerta-Albarran, R. 2011. 17(4): 148-153.
  9. Johnson M et al., J Atten Disord. 2009 Mar;12(5):394-401.
  10. Johnson M et al., J Atten Disord. 2014 Jan 24.
  11. Sinn N et al., Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008;78(4-5):311-26.
  12. Barragán-Pérez E.J. et al., Journal of attention disorders. Jan 24,2014. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Manfred Döpfner has received consulting income and research support from Lilly, Medice, Shire, Janssen Cilag, Novartis, and Vifor, and research support from the German Research Foundation, German Ministry of Education and Research, and German Ministry of Health. Eduardo Barragán has received consulting income and research support from Lilly, UCB, Cilag, Novartis and Vifor, and research support from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
  13. Richardson AJ et al., Pediatrics. 2005 May;115(5):1360-6. The study was cofunded by the Dyslexia Research Trust and the Durham Local Education Authority
  14. Milte et al. Nutrition. 2012 Jun;28(6):670-7. Research conducted by Mite et al. with funding from Australlian Research Council with financial interest from Novasel Australia.

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