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Comparatively Speaking: Essential Fatty Acid vs. Trans Fatty Acid
By: Anthony J. O'Lenick Jr., Siltech LLC
Posted: December 8, 2010
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Essential fatty acids are important in several human body systems, including the immune system and in blood pressure regulation, since they are used to make compounds such as prostaglandins. The brain has increased amounts of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid derivatives.
Trans Fatty Acids
In contract, trans fatty acids do not occur in nature. They are unsaturated fatty acids that contain a trans double bond between carbon atoms. Naturally occurring unsaturated fatty acids are cis. The trans structure makes metabolism more difficult. Trans bonds are produced during industrial processes like the hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Research suggests that amounts of trans fats correlate with circulatory diseases such as atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease more than the same amount of cis fats.
Applications in Personal Care
Essential fatty acids are common ingredients in skin care. Since they are not produced in sufficient quantities by the body, they can benefit the skin in a number of ways when applied topically; for instance, essential fatty acids can aid skin in dryness and the appearance of aging. On the other hand, it is not currently known whether topical application of trans esters has an impact on health.
More information on the application of essential fatty acids in skin care is available in "Applications of Essential Fatty Acids in Skin Care, Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals," an article by J. Brenner that appeared in the March 2004 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine.