A dietary fatty acid deficiency is rare. But people who suffer from it could experience debilitating effects.
However, it can be difficult to determine whether you actually have it or not. After all, the symptoms could be indicators of other conditions.
The chances are that if you are reading this page, you have a good reason for suspecting dietary fatty acid deficiency.
If that’s the case, our service at Ulta Lab Tests provides plenty of lab tests to screen for abnormal fatty acid levels along with many other dietary deficiencies.
But first, you might want to understand what this condition is and whether you have reason to be concerned.
So, keep reading to learn about what a dietary fatty acid deficiency is. This article will cover a general overview of dietary fatty acid deficiency and what tests can confirm or deny this condition.
What Is A Fatty Acid?
Before answering this question, it's important to understand what a fatty acid is in the first place. To start, fatty acids are energy storage units that makeup components of cell membranes. They're essential for the composition of white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma phosphatidylcholine, and tissue cells.
The body obtains fatty acids by consuming dietary fat. It's impossible for the body to produce its own fatty acids, which is why it's integral that individuals ensure an adequate intake of fatty acids.
There are only two fatty acids that are considered essential for the human body. These essential fatty acids are:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid)
- Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid)
Other fatty acids are considered "conditionally" essential, meaning they may be essential for individuals with specific disease/developmental conditions.
Why are Essential Fatty Acids Important?
Essential fatty acid intake is exactly that - essential. The body needs to ingest enough dietary fat in order to perform numerous important bodily functions. Some of these functions include:
- Energy storage
- Skin/hair/eye health
- Bone/joint health
- Neurological health
- Eliminating risk factors for heart disease
- Mental health
There are many more benefits than the ones listed above. Either way, a proper intake of essential fatty acids isn't simply supplementary to your health. It's absolutely necessary.
What Is A Dietary Fatty Acids Deficiency?
A dietary fatty acids deficiency can also be referred to as essential fatty acids deficiency (EFAD). Either way, as the condition's name indicates, it refers to an individual's lack of adequate fatty acids levels. Most likely, this means that they're lacking in alpha-linolenic acid or linoleic acid levels.
It's a rare condition, both in children and in adults. EFAD is a fairly rare condition in the US, and is caused by inadequate dietary fat intake. It is also more common for there to be a deficiency in EPA and DHA, both of which are omega-3 fatty acids.
What Are the Causes of Dietary Fatty Acids Deficiency?
Once again, this condition is caused by an individual's lack of adequate dietary fat intake. Adequate dietary fat intake can usually be ensured by eating proper amounts of the following foods:
- Cooking oils
- Animal fat
- Fish oil
Eating whole foods is the most ideal way to consume dietary fat. But many individuals take omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil or vegan omega-3 supplements, to boost their otherwise inadequate dietary fat intake. Studies even indicate a link between fewer heart disease deaths and boosted omega-3 fat intake.
What Are the Risk Factors for Dietary Fatty Acids Deficiency?
Since there tends to be a great number of fatty food sources available in the US, EFAD is fairly uncommon. However, individuals can also develop this condition through low-fat/fat-free diets. For them, simply increasing their dietary fat intake may be enough to regulate essential fatty acid levels.
Those at the end-stage of liver disease also suffer from EFAD. This condition is part of a host of other malnutrition problems sufferers of liver disease may experience.
There are certain populations that might be more at risk for EFAD, whether that be because of developmental and/or environmental concerns. Such populations may suffer from conditions such as:
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Dietary Fatty Acids Deficiency?
Essential fatty acid deficiency can be manifested through several signs and symptoms. Some of these indications include:
- Dry, scaly rash
- Slowed growth rate
- Slowed learning behavior
- Increased frequency of stools
Which Lab Tests Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor for Dietary Fatty Acids Deficiencies?
At Ulta Lab Tests, we offer an omega-6 and omega-3 test to screen for deficiencies in Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and general dietary fatty acid lab tests to test for an overall dietary fatty acids deficiency.
The omega-3 and -6 fatty acids lab test is conducted as follows:
- Patients will get their blood drawn to provide a plasma sample
- The plasma is then tested for omega-3 and omega-6 levels
- If omega-3/omega-6 levels are inadequate, then the patient is diagnosed with deficiencies in the fatty acids
Benefits of Lab Testing With Ulta Lab Tests for Dietary Fatty Acid Deficiency
Ulta Lab Tests offers tests that are highly accurate and reliable, so you can make informed decisions about your health. Here are a few great things to love about Ulta Lab Tests:
- You'll get secure and confidential results
- You don't need health insurance
- You don't need a physician's referral
- You'll get affordable pricing
- We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee
Order your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids lab test today to see if you have a dietary fatty acid deficiency. Afterward, your test results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.
So, take control of your health with Ulta Lab Tests today!