You probably haven’t even heard about vitamin F and that’s for a good reason. The F vitamin does not belong to the classical family of vitamins, but is a blend of essential fatty acids also known as EFAs.
The human body is incapable of synthesizing only two fatty acids on its own, which is why they are classified as essential and should be continuously supplied with the food we eat. Those two fatty acids are linoleic acid ( Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid ( Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid).
The health benefits of consuming EFAs are lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Symptoms of vitamin F deficiency are hair loss and eczema, and in severe cases – kidney, heart and liver damage, weakening of the immune system, and severe difficulty in lacrimal glands function.
Vitamin F sources
Natural vegetable oils are a good source of essential fatty acids. Soybean oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil and grape seed oil are high in linoleic acid. For example, 1 cl. of safflower oil contains 10.1 grams of linoleic acid. The best source of alpha-linolenic acid is linseed oil, with 1 cl of it containing as much as 7.3 grams of it.
Other good sources are walnut oil and rapeseed oil. All of these, however, should be cold processed in order not to transform the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids into harmful trans fats.
Seeds and nuts
The best source of linoleic acid in this category is roasted sunflower seeds with 9.7 g of indispensable fatty acid in 30 g. Other food sources are pine nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts.
Some seeds are also rich in alpha-linolenic acid – of which the richest are linseed, and the kiwi seeds. Nuts are not the best source, but walnuts for example contain 2.6 grams of it in a portion of 30 grams.
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Here, the undoubted healthy choice is the fish – salmon, trout, mackerel, bass, cod, fish-tuna. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week to increase the natural intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.