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Exclusive Online Expanded Version—The Essential in Fats: A Global Perspective for Healthy Skin Cells

By: Alexandra J. Zani
Posted: March 5, 2014, from the March 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Fifty percent of breast milk calories are from fat in order to allow protein and carbohydrates to be utilized for growth. Furthermore, saturated fatty acids lauric and capric acid integrate into human milk. They play an important role since they are considered antimicrobial fatty acids that protect against viruses, bacteria and protozoa.

A growing child requires substantial amounts of natural fat during their developing years. Infants who receive balanced and adequate levels of good nutrition are able to manufacture a suitable volume of long chained saturated fatty acids for building myelin for the brain. Moreover, fats transport and support the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K, along with phytochemicals including carotenoids.

Michael A. Crawford, professor, award-winning researcher, author and founder of the Mother and Child Foundation, testified in published studies as early as 1972 that infant formulas lacking the highly unsaturated fatty acids, n-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), n-3 DHA and n-6 arachidonic acid (AA), were not adequate for brain and new born development. DHA appeared to be a key component.

Moreover, his extensive research revealed the significant role that lipids and essential fatty acids play during cellular signaling. These essential nutrients affect membrane lipids and gene expression. Crawford established that maternal nutrition was a causative factor in low birth weight as well as complications during pregnancy and premature birth.

Premature infants and DHA. Babies born prematurely before 33-weeks gestation have insufficient levels of n-3 fatty acid DHA in their brain that can lead to potential impaired mental development. Australian researchers at the University of Adelaide, whose findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that by administering high levels of DHA (1000mg/day) to lactating mothers with pre-term infants helped counteract this condition. Moreover, dosages for premature girls and boys differed between the genders. Girls displayed better mental development. Premature boys required higher dosages most likely due to their faster metabolisms.