Functional Endocrinology: Essential Fatty Acids in Hormones


All fats, including saturated fatty acids, have very important roles in the body. The most important fats are the ones that the body can’t make and must be coming from the foods that a person eats.  Essential fatty acids are lipids that are involved in various biological processes and produce many compounds when they are metabolized in the body. The two primary EFAs (essential fatty acids) are linoleic acid (Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3). These two omegas are essential for the body since they are consumed from dietary sources because the body does not have the ability to synthesize them and EFAs are synthesized into prostaglandins, which are necessary for proper hormone signaling in the body.


Omega-6 fatty acids or linoleic acid are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are primarily used for energy and can be converted into longer omega-6 fats called ARA (arachidonic acid). ARA are used to produce eicosanoids, but they are prone to be more pro-inflammatory. Studies have shown that pro-inflammatory eicosanoids are important chemicals in the immune systems, however, when there are too many to produce, they can increase inflammation and inflammatory diseases in the body.

Researchers state that even though omega-6 fats are essential for a healthy body, the modern Western diet is making individuals consume more omega-6 fatty acids than the recommended amount. In a regular healthy diet, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s is 4:1 or less. In a Western diet however, the ratio is between 10:1 and 50:1.

Even though, an individual should consume the recommended amount of omega-6 fatty acids, research has shown that omega-6 fatty acids can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and treat symptoms that cause chronic diseases. In certain oils that contains omega-6 fatty acids, GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), which is an anti-inflammatory component and when consumed it converts to DGLA (dihomo-gamma-linolenic acids), which has anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties against cancer.

A study has shown that when an individual takes a high dose of GLA in their diet, it can significantly reduce a number of symptoms caused by rheumatoid arthritis, and another study found that taking GLA supplements with a breast cancer drug is more effective in lowering breast cancer.


Just like omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that play important roles in providing a number of health benefits for a functional body. Omega-3 fatty acids contain three important compounds that are found in foods, they are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid); which converts into energy for the body, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); which is the key component for a functional brain and retina, and lastly, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid); which has cardiovascular benefits including lowering serum triglyceride and non-HDL-C (non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) in the body.

When it comes to those three important components in omega-3s, ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA are found in mostly animal products and algae. What makes these three components work well in the omega-3 supplements is that they are a crucial part of the human cell membrane and improve heart health, support mental health, decrease liver fats and fight inflammation.

With omega-3 fatty acids, lots of people don’t consume it as much as omega-6, due to not eating a lot of fatty fish as often and consuming omega-6 through fried food being cooked in refined vegetable oils. To balance a healthy diet, individuals can take an omega-3 supplement to balance out the omega-6 consumption to make sure the body is receiving these fatty health benefits.


Prostaglandins are a component of this regulatory system, they affect multiple hormone synthesis and secretion pathways in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis. They are a group of endogenously occurring acidic lipids that appear to play a role in the reproductive physiology.

Since prostaglandins are bioactive lipids, they exert an autocrine or paracrine function by binding to specific GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors) to activate intracellular signaling and gene transcription. As key regulators of reproductive processes, prostaglandins has many functions like having a role in the hypothalamic and pituitary control of gonadotropin secretion, ovulation, in luteinization and in the corpus luteum regression.

Prostaglandins also play a key role in the inflammatory response in the body. Their biosynthesis is significantly increased in inflamed tissues and can contribute to the development of the cardinal signs of acute inflammation in the body.

Researchers stated that prostaglandins have a plethora of actions in the central nervous system that can affect the progress of inflammation in the body differently, however, further studies are being tested to inhibit the role of these lipid mediators.


All fats play a very important role in the body. Essential fatty acids produce many compounds in the body when they are being metabolized in the body. Since the body can not produce essential fatty acids, they have to be consumed through food. The two important essential fatty acids are omega-6 and omega-3. These two fatty supplements help the body gain the nutrients the body needs to synthesize. Prostaglandins are also a key role in the body since they affect the pathways in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis and plays the role of regulating the reproductive physiology. Some products are formulated to target the immune support by creating micronized structure to increase the surface-to-volume ratio of particles to be more available to enzymatic actions.

October is Chiropractic Health Month. To learn more about it, check out Governor Abbott’s proclamation on our website to get full details on this declaration.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .


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Guesnet, Philippe, and Jean-Marc Alessandri. “Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and the Developing Central Nervous System (CNS) – Implications for Dietary Recommendations.” Biochimie, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2011,

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Ph.D., Catharine Paddock. “Could Omega-6 Fatty Acids Help Us Live Longer?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 20 Mar. 2018,

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The information herein on "Functional Endocrinology: Essential Fatty Acids in Hormones" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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