Vitamin F deficiency

Vitamin F deficiency

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Essential fatty acids are sometimes referred to as vitamin F and are composed of two fatty acids - linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (LNA) - with linoleic acid being the most complete fatty acid. There are two basic categories of EFA's (essential fatty acids) - omega-3 and omega-6 which include linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid. The body is not capable of manufacturing essential fatty acids, while the fatty acid arachidonic acid can be synthesized in the body from linoleic acid.

Vitamin F deficiency

Production of hormone-like substance called eicosanoids (thromboxanes, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, etc).

Fatty acids are needed for normal growth and behavior and help with healthy cell membranes, a well-balanced hormone level and properly working the immune system. They are essential for the synthesis of tissue lipids, play an important role in the regulation of cholesterol levels, and are precursors of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds producing various metabolic effects in tissues.

The best source of linolenic acid is vegetable oil. Others sources include wheat germ, peanut oil, sunflower seeds, safflower, soybean, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds and even avocados.

Causes of Vitamin F deficiency may include:

  • Long-term TPN (total parenteral nutrition) patients without adequate lipid.
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Low birth weight infants.
  • Premature infants.
  • Severely malnourished patients.
  • Patients on long-term MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) as a fat source.
  • Patients with fat malabsorption.
  • Acrodermatitis enteropathica.
  • Hepatorenal syndrome.
  • Multisystem neuronal degradation.
  • Crohn's disease.
  • Cirrhosis and alcoholism.
  • Reye's syndrome.
  • Short bowel syndrome.


  • Vitamin F shortages often lead to hair loss, although the problem should cease when the proper balance is restored.
  • Lack of Vitamin F can cause your tear ducts to dry up and not to function effectively. If you suffer from severe dry eye, you may need more Vitamin F in your diet.
  • When you do not get enough Vitamin F, your bad cholesterol levels may rise and your blood is far more likely to form clots.
  • Vitamin F deficiencies often compromise your immune system, causing minor wounds to heal more slowly and leaving you susceptible to increased numbers of colds, bouts of the flu and other minor infections.


Laboratory tests are available and do take the guesswork out of this process. The most accurate test is called the "red blood cell fatty acid analysis."It is offered via integrative medicine laboratories and not by standard conventional laboratories. You can see a sample report of a fatty acid profile via one integrative medicine laboratory.


When a person is suspected of having a vitamin F deficiency, a person has two options.

  • They can either treat the suspected imbalance and observe the response.
  • They can do a laboratory test to determine both the existence and nature of the imbalance.

General Treatment Options:

You require both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as part of your daily intake. Researchers recommend that adult men over the age of 19 consume approximately 1.6 g of omega-3 fatty acids daily, while women in the same age group require 1.1 g per day. Men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume 17 and 12 g of omega-6 fatty acids each day, while men and women over the age of 50 should consume 14 and 11 g, respectively.

NOTE: The above information is for the educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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