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Although this review focuses primarily on GLA, evidence now suggests that n-6 fatty acid intake must be considered in relation to concurrent omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid intake to have a more consistent anti-inflammatory effect. As such, many studies are now using combination supplements or dietary changes that alter the ratio of n-3 to n-6 EFAs.

For more information about the n-3:n-6 fatty acid balance, which has implications in cardiovascular disease and cancer, refer to the monograph on Fish oils. DEFICIENCY

Like other essential nutrients, EFAs must be supplied by the diet. Unlike other essential nutrients, however, it has not yet been possible to identify a minimal daily requirement and a minimum daily intake for GLA has not been determined. Besides insufficient intake, secondary deficiency states are also possible due to faulty EFA metabolism.

The first step in EFA metabolism is the desaturation of LA. The reaction requires delta-6-desaturase and other enzymes, and it is the rate-limiting reaction of dietary LA metabolism. A deficiency or significant inhibition of the desaturase enzyme due to other dietary or lifestyle factors could lead to a deficiency of GLA. Excessive consumption of LA could also lead to a relative deficiency of GLA. In any case, direct supplementation with GLA may be clinically beneficial in these situations (Horrobin 1990).

It is now suspected that a number of common conditions, such as dermatitis, may be aggravated by or in part caused by an imbalance between n-3 and n-6 EFAs and relative lack of GLA.

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