Vitamin F
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Brief description

The term vitamin F refers to essential fatty acids, namely linoleic and alpha linoleic… They enter the body from food in the form of (mono- and poly-) fatty acids and play an important role in lowering cholesterol levels, regulating blood pressure, and reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. In addition, vitamin F is essential for the development of the brain in the fetus in the womb, the newborn and the baby, and for the maintenance of brain function in adults.

Vitamin F-rich foods

Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are widely found in animal products such as meat and dairy products. Monounsaturated fatty acids are also found in some vegetable oils – olive, avocado, almond, canola, peanut, and palm. They are considered the healthiest in the human diet because they do not raise cholesterol levels to the same extent as saturated fats, and they are less susceptible to spontaneous oxidation than polyunsaturated fatty acids. In addition, they are not converted into potent biologically active compounds that can disrupt the balance of various body systems, which often happens with polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The family of polyunsaturated fatty acids also includes two different groups – “” and “”. Both are considered essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized by humans. The original omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linoleic acid, while the omega-6 fatty acid is linoleic acid.

Fat content of nuts and seeds

Nuts and Seedslinoleic acidAlpha linoleic acidSaturated fatty acids
Pine nut33.20.164.9
Sunflower seeds32.780.075.22
Pumpkin seeds20.70.188.67
Brazilian nut20.50.0515.1

Quantity in food

The indicated amount of grams per 100 grams of product (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids / Unsaturated Fatty Acids / Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids).

Gruyere cheese10.04 / 18.91 / 1.73
Sun-dried tomatoes8.66 / 1.89 / 2.06
Roquefort cheese8.47 / 19.26 / 1.32
Hummus5.34 / 2.56 / 8.81
+ 15 more foods rich in vitamin F (the number of grams per 100 g of the product is indicated (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids / Unsaturated Fatty Acids / Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids)):
Chicken egg3.66 / 3.10 / 1.91Corn, raw0.43 / 0.33 / 0.49Mango0.14 / 0.09 / 0.07
Tofu1.93 / 1.26 / 4.92Parsley0.29 / 0.13 / 0.12plums0.13 / 0.02 / 0.04
Yogurt0.89 / 2.10 / 0.09Oyster0.25 / 0.47 / 0.53Curly cabbage0.10 / 0.18 / 0.67
Lentils, red or pink0.50 / 0.38 / 1.14Apricot0.17 / 0.03 / 0.08Green onions0.10 / 0.15 / 0.26
prunes0.48 / 0.06 / 0.16Ginger root0.15 / 0.2 / 0Nectarine0.09 / 0.07 / 0.26

Daily requirement for essential fatty acids

The European health authorities have developed guidelines for the intake of the most essential fatty acids for adults:

Omega-3Alpha linoleic acid2 grams per day
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (long-chain omega-3 fatty acid)250 mg per day
Omega-6linoleic acid10 g per day

In the United States, the intake of fatty acids has been set at:

Men (19-50 years old)1,6 g / day17 g / day
Women (19-50 years old)1,1 g / day12 g / day

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (especially oily fish such as mackerel, trout, herring, sardines, tuna, salmon) at least twice a week.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children and women who may become pregnant are advised not to eat certain types of fish – swordfish, shark and king mackerel, as there is a risk of high levels of hazardous substances in their meat (such as mercury). In such cases, nutritional supplements are advised.

It is important to maintain a proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the diet, as the two interact directly. For example, acids of the omega-3 group (alpha-linoleic acid) help relieve inflammation in the body, and a large amount of omega-6 (linoleic acid) can, on the contrary, provoke inflammation. An imbalance of these two acids can lead to disease, and the right combination maintains or even improves health. A healthy diet should contain about 2-4 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. But experience shows that in developed countries, the typical diet contains 14-15 times more omega-6 acids, and many researchers believe that this imbalance is a significant factor in the increase in the number of inflammatory diseases. In contrast, the Mediterranean Diet contains a healthier balance of the two and is considered to be more beneficial to heart health.

At risk of developing a deficiency or imbalance of essential fatty acids are:

  1. 1 newborns;
  2. 2 pregnant and lactating women;
  3. 3 patients with malabsorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

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Useful properties of vitamin F and its effect on the body

Health benefits

Eating enough polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 is very important as they play a critical role in:

  • development and maintenance of the normal functioning of the brain;
  • maintaining vision;
  • immune and inflammatory responses;
  • the production of hormone-like molecules.

In addition, omega-3s help maintain normal blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and heart health.

Essential fatty acids for disease

  • for premature babies: omega-3 is an essential substance in the formation of the brain, nerve cells, including retina. It is also important for visual and neurological processes.
  • during pregnancy and breastfeeding: the fetus in the womb and the newborn baby receive omega-3 exclusively from the mother’s body, therefore the consumption of essential fatty acids must meet the requirements of the mother and child.
  • against heart disease: Research shows that consuming large amounts of omega-3s can help reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies in heart attack survivors have shown that taking omega-3s every day can reduce the risk of recurring heart attacks.
  • against cancer: a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 acids plays an important role in preventing the development and growth of tumors, especially breast, prostate and rectal cancers. Fatty acids in these cases can be used either alone or in combination with other vitamins – C, E, beta-carotene and coenzyme Q10.
  • against age-related diseases: Studies show that people who have a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in their diets and regularly eat fish have a reduced risk of age-related visual diseases.
  • against Alzheimer’s disease: insufficient intake of omega-3 acids can be a risk factor for the development of other types of dementia.

Interactions with other elements and useful combinations of products

Nutritionists advise eating foods rich in cofactors that promote the absorption of essential fatty acids. They aid in the further processing of acids after they enter the body. The key cofactors are:

  • magnesium: sources are slightly cooked, and the pulp, steamed.
  • zinc: lean,,,, poultry, beef liver.
  • B vitamins: seeds, seaweed, cereals.
  • eggs are a good source.
  • Vitamin C: greens, broccoli, bell peppers, fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are subject to oxidation. Therefore, they are advised to use them in large quantities in order to preserve fragile bonds in their chemical structure. Bright fruits and vegetables, for example, are excellent sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants that prevent fatty acid oxidation are alpha lipoic acid (found in beef, dark green leafy vegetables) vitamin E (from whole wheat grains, seeds and) and coenzyme Q10 (usually produced in the liver, but in some cases must be taken medically). It is recommended to avoid eating oxidized fatty acids – this happens when the seed oil is used for frying, exposed to light or heat. Oxidized poly- and monounsaturated acids are also found in ready-to-eat foods, even organic ones, such as pies, vegetarian convenience foods, falafel, etc.


In order to improve the metabolism of essential fatty acids in the body, you should:

  • Maintain a healthy balance when consuming saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and also reduce the consumption of processed fats;
  • optimize the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 intake. Many studies recommend sticking to a 4: 1 ratio;
  • consume enough nutrients that interact with fatty acids;
  • reduce the number of factors that can interfere with the absorption of fatty acids.

How to correct and improve nutrition?

  • A maximum of 30-35 percent of the daily diet should be fat.
  • Most of these fats should be monounsaturated fatty acids. They are found in rapeseed oil, avocado oil, cashews, pistachio, sesame oil, and poultry. When choosing olive oil, choose organic, cold-pressed, unfiltered oil and store it in a cool, dark place (not in the refrigerator). This oil is used for dressing salads and cooking at low temperatures. Cold pressed organic is also gaining popularity for its health benefits. But it’s best not to heat it to avoid breaking down the omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Saturated fat can be included in the diet, but it is advisable not to exceed the recommended maximum dose of 10 percent of all calories consumed per day, or 20 grams for women and 30 grams per day for men. Saturated fats are most suitable for cooking as they are the most stable. If you, for example, want to roast vegetables, then coconut, lard in small quantities is a healthier choice than vegetable oil, olive oil, or oil from a variety of seeds. Coconut oil is believed to be the most useful oil for frying. More budget options are butter, lard, ghee, goose fat, or olive oil, depending on cooking temperature and health.
  • Eat foods containing natural omega-6 acids (linoleic acid). The best sources of omega-6 are raw seeds, especially sunflowers, pumpkins, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. Oils from these seeds are also very useful. It is best to store them in the refrigerator and do not subject to heat treatment. You can consume one spoonful of raw seeds or oil from them per day.
  • It is recommended to reduce the consumption of sugar, fructose and alcohol.

Cooking rules for essential fatty acids

Fatty acids break down under the influence of three main factors – light, air and heat. This should be considered when preparing and storing foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6. Frying and deep frying expose fats to three destructive factors at once. Fats that have been exposed to high temperatures can cause atherosclerosis, prevent air from entering the cells of the body, lower the function of the immune system and potentially increase the risk of developing.

Use in official medicine

In official medicine, essential fatty acids are used for the prevention and complex treatment of various diseases. In addition, the full effects of these substances are still being investigated.

There is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can heal and prevent by interfering with the formation of blood clots. They lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce inflammation, and improve vascular and platelet function.

Patients who are ill often have high blood fat levels. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids (namely the long molecular chain acids eicosapentanoic and docosahexaenoic acids) derived from fish oil can reduce this fat. It should be noted that excessive consumption of fatty acids has the potential to increase blood sugar levels.

Several experiments have shown that consuming omega-3 vitamins has a positive effect on the health of those with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid. Among the effects noted were a decrease in joint pain, limited movement in the morning, and a decrease in the amount of medication taken. At the moment, the effect of omega-3 on the course of diseases such as and.

Essential fatty acids are essential for mental health. Omega-3 is an important component of the membrane of nerve cells, through which they transmit information. It was noted that patients with depression had extremely low omega-3 levels and a very high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Eating oily fish 2-3 times a week for 5 years significantly improved the condition of the patients. Improvement after taking omega-3 in combination with drugs was also noted in patients with bipolar disorder.

When assessing the level of fatty acids in patients, it was noted that in each of the interviewed patients (20 people), who also took antipsychotics, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 was reduced. It remained so even after the death of the patient. Taking 10 grams of fish oil per day, in turn, had a positive effect on the patients’ symptoms.

Low levels of certain fatty acids can be seen in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A balanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 has generally been beneficial for both children with ADHD and adults.

Fatty acids are one of the most important components in the treatment of patients.

Essential fatty acids during pregnancy

EFAs are vital structural elements of cell membranes and therefore contribute to the formation of new tissues. Primary fatty acids cannot be synthesized by humans, therefore human health depends on the intake of fatty acids from food.

The fetus in the womb is completely dependent on the level of fatty acids in her body. They affect the development of the child’s nervous system and retina. Studies show that during pregnancy, the level of fatty acids in the mother’s body drops rapidly. This is especially true of docosahexaenoic acid – it is the main structural and functional acid in the central nervous system. By the way, this acid is mobilized in the mother’s body to enter the fetus, and at the birth of the first child, the level of this acid in the mother is higher than at the birth of subsequent children. This means that after the first pregnancy, the amount of docosahexaenoic acid in the mother is not restored to its previous level. It has been noted that docosahexaenoic acid has a positive effect on skull volume, weight and height in premature babies.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also very important for the development of the fetus. In order to get them in sufficient quantities, it is advised to include in the diet of a pregnant woman such foods as vegetable oils, fish 2 times a week, as well as vitamins, which include essential fatty acids.

Use in cosmetology

Due to their beneficial effect, especially on the skin, essential fatty acids (also known as vitamin F) are of great importance in cosmetology, becoming more and more widely used components of many cosmetics intended for daily face and body care. Deficiency of these substances can lead to excessive dryness of the skin. If vegetable oils are used as a cosmetic base, from which essential fatty acids are obtained, such products prevent the loss of moisture from the skin by creating a protective layer on the epidermis. In addition, they soften the stratum corneum and reduce skin inflammation, thereby relieving pain. In addition to this, they play a very important role in the proper functioning of the human body. Medicine recognizes the beneficial effect of vegetable oils on the biological synthesis of components of cell membranes, are involved in the transport and oxidation of cholesterol. A lack of essential fatty acids can lead to fragility of blood vessels, a deterioration of the immune system, the process of blood clotting and lead to.

Linoleic acid (found in sunflower, soy, saffron, corn, sesame, and also from) improves the lipid barrier of dry skin, protects against moisture loss and normalizes skin metabolism. It has been noted that people with often have low levels of linoic acid, resulting in clogged pores, comedones and eczema. The use of linoic acid for oily and problem skin leads to, cleansing of pores and a decrease in the number of rashes. In addition, this acid is part of the cell membranes.

Other essential fatty acids for the skin are gamma-linoleic acid (found in borage, binder and hemp oil) and alpha-linoleic acid (found in flaxseed, soybean, rapeseed oil, walnut oil, wheat germ and phytoplankton). They are physiological components of cell membranes and mitochondria in the human body. And eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid (both are in the omega-3 group and are found in fish oil) prevent the development of tumors, relieve inflammation after sun exposure, reduce irritation and stimulate recovery processes.

Essential fatty acids make the skin more hydrated and smoother looking. Unsaturated fatty acids are able to invade cell membranes, repair damaged epidermal barrier and limit moisture loss. They are used as a base for creams, emulsions, cosmetic milk and creams, ointments, hair conditioners, cosmetic masks, protective lip balms, bath foams, and nail care products. Many natural substances with high biological activity, such as vitamins A, D, E, provitamin A and phospholipids, hormones, steroids and natural dyes, dissolve in fatty acids.

All of the above benefits can be achieved by taking vitamins, applying medications to the skin, or by intravenous administration. Each specific case requires consultation with a medical professional.

Vitamin F in traditional medicine

In folk medicine, essential fatty acids are considered very important for the respiratory organs. They help to maintain the elasticity of cell membranes, contribute to normal lung activity. Symptoms of vitamin F deficiency and imbalance are brittle hair and nails, dandruff, loose stools. Fatty acids are used in the form of vegetable and animal oils, seeds and nuts. Vitamin F is replenished primarily from food. For example, it is advised to eat 50-60 grams in order to provide a daily intake of fatty acids. In addition, vitamin F is considered a beneficial remedy for inflammation and burns. For this, primarily oils are used.

Vitamin F in scientific research

  • For the first time, a link was found between eating large quantities of nuts in the first trimester of pregnancy and the effects on the cognitive ability, attention and long-term memory of the child. The Spanish researchers took into account the consumption of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts. The positive dynamics is attributed to the presence of folate, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 in nuts. These substances tend to accumulate in neural tissues, in particular in the frontal part of the brain, which is responsible for memory and executive functions of the brain.
  • According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, eating omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may have the opposite effect on the severity of asthma in children, as well as their response to indoor air pollution. Children with higher levels of omega-3s in their diets experienced fewer asthma symptoms in response to air pollution. Conversely, increased consumption of foods high in omega-6s worsened the clinical picture of sick children.
  • According to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (USA), omega-3 fatty acids may be able to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. This effect is thought to be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s. Thus, a diet rich in seafood can prevent the development of tumors.

Slimming Tips

  • Attention should be paid to the amount of carbohydrates consumed. The most important step is to eliminate sugar and, if possible, from the diet. Non-alcoholic sweetened drinks are also worth avoiding.
  • Fat should make up 5 to 6 percent of your energy intake.
  • It is best to use different oils for salad dressing and frying. For example, olive oil and sunflower oil are best suited for salads.
  • Eat as little fried foods as possible due to the chemical reactions that occur in the oil during frying.

Contraindications and cautions

Signs of a vitamin F deficiency

Some possible signs of a deficiency and / or imbalance between essential fatty acids are itching, dryness of the body and scalp, brittle nails, as well as atypical symptoms such as asthma, excessive thirst and urination, aggression or cruelty, bad mood, anxiety, and a tendency to inflammation and hormonal imbalances (including cortisol, thyroid hormones, and insulin). The balance of fatty acids in the body is important for every physiological process. To determine the level of fatty acids, among other things, an analysis of the erythrocyte membrane or functional testing of vitamins and minerals of group B is performed.

An imbalance in fat carries the following risks:

  • Consuming excessive amounts of trans fats can contribute to cardio-metabolic problems, which are the precursors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease;
  • excessive consumption of omega-6 compared to omega-3 may be associated with chronic inflammation and a number of degenerative diseases;
  • An excess of omega-3 and a lack of omega-6 can also lead to a number of health problems.

An overabundance of omega-3s is dangerous:

  • for people suffering from blood clotting diseases or using anticoagulants;
  • may cause the risk of diarrhea, bloating;
  • increased blood sugar levels.

An overabundance of omega-6s is dangerous:

  • for people with seizures;
  • for pregnant;
  • due to the deterioration of inflammatory processes.

Interaction with other substances

It is believed that the need for vitamin E increases with an increase in the intake of essential fatty acids.

History of discovery

In the late 1920s, scientists became interested in the nutritional value of fats. Prior to that, dietary fats were known to provide energy and contain vitamins A and D. Several scientific articles have been published describing previously unknown deficiencies resulting from the elimination of all types of fat from the diet, and the existence of a new vitamin, F. After further experimentation, scientists discovered that the deficiency could be cured by taking pure “linoelic acid”, and in 1930 the term “essential fatty acids” was first used.

Interesting Facts

  • The best source of fatty acids is not multivitamins, but fish oil. As a rule, fats are not included in multivitamins. In addition, fish oil is best taken with a meal that also contains fats.
  • There is a myth that consuming omega-3s can lower cholesterol levels. In fact, consuming omega-3 vitamins will lower triglyceride levels, which have been linked to heart disease risk. In turn, replacing “bad” saturated fats with “healthy” polyunsaturated fats will lower cholesterol levels.

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Information sources
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