Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency Symptoms: Diagnosis And Treatment

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are synthesized from other fatty acids and play a crucial role in various physiological process of the body including maintaining the integrity of the skin tissue and synthesizing various prostaglandins.

Deficiency Of Essential Fatty Acids

The deficiency of essential fatty acids is a rare condition which occurs primarily when the intake of EFA is very low. Essential fatty acid deficiency is observed in infants, not fed on breast milk and in individuals living on a very low fat diet.

Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency Symptoms

Since essential fatty acids are crucial in ensuring the integrity of the skin, their deficiency is associated with various skin disorders.

Some of these disorders include,

  1. Scaly dermatitis which may be generalized associated with itching and cracks on the skin
  2. Alopecia or hair loss, which may result due to poor nutrition to the hair and deteriorating skin texture
  3. Thrombocytopenia i.e. low levels of thrombocytes, which are essential for blood clotting
  4. Growth retardation is observed in children with the deficiency of Essential fatty acids

Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency Diagnosis

The diagnosis of the condition is based on clinical observation and presentation.

Though laboratory assay for evaluating deficiency of fatty acids are available, they are limited to larger research centre and may not be available for the general public.

Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency Treatment

Treatment comprises of reversing the deficiency but increased intake of fats, vegetables (since fats are vegetable soluble), etc. Infants (not on breast milk) should be fed with normal quantity of cow’s milk which contains about 25% of the fatty acids available in breast milk.

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