Essential Fatty Acids (omega-3 and omega-6 compounds)
Kirkman's EFA™ Powder is a multifunctional nutritional food that has excellent rationale in supporting good health. It supplies omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, along with much needed protein and fiber, in a pleasant tasting, easy to use (see next section) form that makes it easy for parents to supplement these important nutrients to the whole family.
EFA stands for “essential fatty acids.” The word "essential" as used in describing omega-3 and omega-6 compounds means that the body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be consumed in our diet. Essential fatty acids are either omega-3 oils or omega-6 oils. Some sources of omega-3 are: cod liver oil, fish oils, flax oil, flaxseed and leafy green vegetables. Some nuts also contain omega-3s (e.g. walnuts). Omega-6 sources are: corn oil, wheat germ oil, soy oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, black current oil plus many other cooking oils.
Almost all processed foods are very high in omega-6s. Essential fatty acids play critical roles in body structure and function. In fact, life cannot be sustained without them. Some are transformed to regulating compounds called prostaglandins in the body; these prostaglandins, along with essential fatty acids, are responsible for supporting the critical body functions listed below:
• nerve transmission
• pressure regulation in the eye, joints and blood vessels
• division of cells (growth and healing processes)
• response to pain, swelling and inflammation
• muscle reflexes
• oxygen transport from cells to tissues
• maintaining health of cell membranes
• supporting immune response
• providing energy to the heart muscle
Essential fatty acids are often called by their chemical names.
Omega-3 compounds are:
• EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
• DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
• alpha-linolenic acid
• alpha-linoleic acid
Omega-6 compounds are:
• linoleum acid
• gamma-linoleic acid
• gamma-linolenic acid
• arachidonic acid
The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids
The latest scientific research has supported the view that essential fatty acids need to be in equilibrium in our diet. Omega-3 and omega-6 consumption should be balanced. It is generally recommended that omega-6 consumption should be about four times as much as omega-3. In addition, it is recommended by the medical community that saturated fat consumption should be limited. Saturated fats are found in butter, margarine and lard. All omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated.
Unfortunately, many individuals’ diets do not achieve those recommended balances. Most North American and Western diets are very low in omega-3 and extremely high in omega-6. Too many saturated fats are consumed and the ratio of ingested EFAs averages more like 20:1 omega-6s to omega-3s instead of the recommended 4:1. This is due to the fact that poor quality cooking oils and most processed foods contain omega-6 oils. In addition, the overall consumption of omega-3 rich foods is often very low. Getting compliance with fish oil omega-3 type products is extremely difficult, especially in children. In some individuals, omega-3 consumption is totally lacking. Furthermore, in some geographical areas, individuals avoid fish due to industrial contaminants.
Kirkman® offers many different choices for essential fatty acid supplementation, from stabilized flaxseed to a variety of fish oil products. Cod liver oil is also a souce of omega 3s, so also see that section on this website, as well. Kirkman® screens all of its products for environmental contaminants. A description of Kirkman's essential fatty acid supplement follows.
Overview of Kirkman’s EFA™
EFA™ is a high quality, uniquely processed milled flaxseed product that consists of not only essential fatty acids, but also fiber and amino acids. Special processing of flaxseed by our supplier of the milled seeds has made it possible for Kirkman® to offer this essential fatty acid product of premium quality. Special processing includes:
• Selecting only dry, well-matured, uniform-colored seeds that are free of extraneous material,
microbiological pathogens and mold.
• A special cleaning process that removes small and undesirable, immature seeds that contain
chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a pro-oxidant that can cause instability or degradation of some flaxseed.
• A special milling process free of excess heat ensures no deterioration, as often occurs with
improperly milled flaxseed.
These steps guarantee a stable, exceptionally pure product with nutritional integrity. Per 5 gram serving (one heaping teaspoon), EFA consists of 41% fatty acids (2 grams), 28% dietary fiber (1.2 grams) and 22% protein (1.1 grams). The protein present is comprised of a complete amino acid profile. Of the fatty acids present, 57% are polyunsaturated omega-3s and 16% are polyunsaturated omega-6s. EFA™ is a pleasant tasting milled powder that can be easily incorporated into the diet. (See the section on how to use EFA™.)
Kirkman's EFA™ contains 3.5 times the amount of polyunsaturated omega-3s in relation to Omega-6s. The consumption of EFA™ helps counteract the imbalance of essential fatty acids the average person’s diet provides by contributing an abundance of the often-lacking omega-3s.
Other advantages of EFA™
Kirkman's EFA™ consists of 22% protein. This protein is considered a "complete protein" because it contains all of the essential amino acids required by our bodies. Along with the fatty acids, EFA™ is a good way of getting some protein into the diet. This protein is non-animal and non-dairy, as well as gluten free -- all obvious considerations in some special needs diets.
EFA™ also consists of 28% dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Its fiber is similar in action and structure to oat bran, but is gluten free. Fiber is important for good health. It is also accepted now in the medical community that dietary fiber helps support healthy levels of cholesterol that are already in the normal range.
It is interesting to note that, prior to 1990, most infant formulas contained very low levels of essential fatty acids -- especially omega-3s. Today, virtually all infant formulas are supplemented with omega-3s. Experts agree that infant formulas should be designed to approximate the fatty acid composition of breast milk, which is especially high in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 supplementation in infants is required for the optimal development of the nervous system and for the maturation of visual acuity. These facts help validate the increasing awareness of the need for EFA™ consumption.
How to use EFA™
EFA™ has a pleasant, nutty flavor that can be easily incorporated in foods. It can be sprinkled on cereal, or it can be mixed in applesauce, mashed potatoes, pudding or any other viscous food. Ice cream or sherbet are other good vehicles. Most individuals really like the taste, and the product has a somewhat crunchy consistency. However, some individuals might not like the taste or texture of EFA™. Fortunately, there are many options to help with administration. Because the flaxseed in the product is specially processed to remove unstable seeds and oxidants, it can be used in baking and still maintain nearly 100% of its nutritional value. The Flax Council of Canada tested the type of flaxseed used in EFA™ and came up with the following very important conclusions and printed statements:
• "A protective mechanism appeared to be present in the milled samples which prevented
• "For both milled samples and bread prepared from the milled samples, panelists were not able to detect
the differences between fresh and stored samples."
• The Health Protection Branch of the Food Directorate of Health Canada tested the stability of flaxseed fatty
acids in storage and when used in baking, and issued the following conclusions: "Both the oxygen
consumption test and the analysis of fatty acid composition demonstrated that whole flaxseed and
ground flaxseed were stable at room temperature. No detectable changes were noted during 44 weeks
at 4 degrees C."
• "It appears that ground flaxseed alone readily absorbs oxygen under typical baking conditions, but this does
not markedly affect its fatty acid composition. We conclude that flaxseed is stable during baking."
Baking is an easy way to get individuals to ingest EFA™. Kirkman® and many of our associates have successfully incorporated EFA™ in baking. We have produced great tasting bread, cookies, doughnuts, pancakes, muffins, and other foodstuffs. All were casein and gluten free and included significant amounts of EFA™.
For baking purposes, EFA™ can be substituted for the fat used in baking at a ratio of 3 to 1. For example, 1 ½ cups can replace ½ cup of butter, margarine, shortening or cooking oil in a traditional recipe. Because goods made with flaxseed brown rapidly, cooking times should be followed carefully. The stability of flaxseed in baking was tested at temperatures between 350 and 375 degrees F, so these temperatures should not be exceeded.
EFA™ can also be sprinkled on top of breads, muffins or other baked products to add taste and "crunch." Use your imagination. You will be surprised at how many different ways EFA™ can be incorporated in the diet.
How much EFA™ should I use?
There is no absolute dosage for supplementation with essential fatty acids. A lot depends on how much is consumed in the regular diet. As a rule of thumb, adults should supplement with at least 10 grams (two heaping teaspoons) up to 20 grams daily of EFA™and children should use 5 grams (one heaping teasoon) to 10 grams daily. That dosage translates into each teaspoon of EFA™ supplying 2 grams of fatty acids. Of those two grams, about 1.2 grams will be omega-3.
Also, the dosage does not have to be the same each day. A little more or less on a given day is not critical, nor is there any danger of overdose. If one consumes fish or fish oil, the consumption of EFA™ for that day can be reduced to a lower level. Because EFA™ contains 3.5 times the omega-3s to omega-6s, it will automatically help balance the overconsumption of omega-6 oils from processed foods, fried foods or "junk foods," but as recommended earlier, individuals should try and limit saturated fat consumption. If a fatty acid profile test has been done, your physician should also help determine the daily requirements of supplementation with essential fatty acids. Those individuals who have extremely poor diets should use the higher levels.
How should I store EFA™?
EFA™ should be stored in the refrigerator. Stability testing was done on closed containers; so, to ensure freshness after opening, the product should be refrigerated. It should also be protected from light, especially sunlight or fluorescent light.