essential fatty acid
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to essential fatty acid: essential fatty acid deficiency
es·sen·tial fat·ty ac·id
a fatty acid that is nutritionally essential; for example, linoleic acid, linolenic acid.
essential fatty acidBiochemistry
A fatty acid that humans cannot synthesise, which contains double bonds more distal than the COOH end of the 9th carbon atom:
(1) Linoleic acid 18:2 cis-delta 9, delta 12, which has two unsaturated carbon bonds; the first is attached at the methyl end to the 6th carbon (hence, n-6 or omega-6); and
(2) Linolenic acid 18:3 cis-delta 9, delta 12, delta 15.
Some practitioners of alternative healthcare believe cystic fibrosis and ADD/ADHD in children may respond to an increased dietary intake of EFAs.
es·sen·tial fat·ty ac·id(EFA) (ĕ-sen'chăl fat'ē as'id)
The 18-carbon fatty acids that are nutritionally required by humans and must be consumed through dietary sources. The EFAs are linoleic acid or C18:2 (n-6) and alpha-linolenic acid or C18:2 (n-3).