Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them, but the body cannot synthesize them. Only two fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Non-essential fatty acids can be synthesized by the body.
Phospholipids, fatty acid derivatives, make up an important class of lipids for the construction of cell membranes. The phospholipids are not “true fats” because they have one of the fatty acids replaced by a phosphate group. Phospholipids are vital for healthy cellular and body function, as they help the cell maintain its internal structures and environment, a process called “homeostasis”. Phospholipids determine what enters and exists the cell, and allows the free diffusion of small molecules, such as oxygen, hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide. These important cellular barriers support all cognitive function, cardiovascular health, nerve health, liver function, and digestion. During the digestive process, phospholipids form clusters to help move vitamins, nutrients and fat-containing molecules through the body.
In addition to functioning as a skin for each cell, keeping the insides in and the outsides out, phospholipid membranes provide protection from chemicals and pathogens that can derail and/or destroy the necessary life functions that take place within each cell. While performing this function, phospholipid membranes are subject to constant attack from free radicals (oxidants), pathogens, and toxins. In order to repair the structural damage caused by the continual barrage of toxic substances and pathogens, your body requires a constant supply of phospholipids.
- Phosphatidylcholine: Phosphatidylcholine or PC, is advantageous to liver function as well as a nutrient for brain function. PC also serves as the body’s main source of choline, an essential nutrient and precursor to the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. PC is also necessary for the production of surfactants, which are critical for lung function and gastrointestinal health. PC is a major lipid in the protective mucus layer of the gastrointestinal tract. It can mitigate GI injury by exerting an anti-inflammatory effect. PC also protects liver cells from viral damage, reduces fibrosis, and prevents cell death from drugs, alcohol and other chemical toxins. PC has many benefits for your brain, and is used to boost memory, enhance intellectual skills, increase concentration, and improve overall brain health. PC benefits are derived from the fact that it is a source of choline which is an essential nutrient necessary for proper brain function. Choline makes up a large part of the volume of your brain cells and is incorporated into all of your neuron cell membranes.