What is vitamin F used for and in what foods is it found?

Little is said about vitamin F, which has become fashionable in recent times for its cosmetic properties.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 14:58
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What is vitamin F used for and in what foods is it found?

Little is said about vitamin F, which has become fashionable in recent times for its cosmetic properties. Known as "the skin's coat" for the protective effect of its fatty acids on the dermis, vitamin F is not really a vitamin, although it is popularly known as such. The nutritionist at bluaU de Sanitas, Cristina Morillo, explains it: “Although it sounds confusing, when we talk about vitamin F we are referring to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are mainly divided into omega-3 and omega-6. It is important to know that the body cannot synthesize it, so it is very important to include foods that contain these fatty acids”.

For her part, the clinical nutritionist at Hospital HM Nou Delfos, Sílvia Torrent, points out that “these unsaturated fatty acids or vitamin F act as part of cell membranes, so they are very important for the cellular structure of the skin. This vitamin restores this skin layer and has a protective effect on the skin against external aggressions such as the sun, dryness or humidity. With a correct contribution, we avoid flaking and cell inflammation that ends up having an early aging effect on the skin. In addition to these functions at the cellular level, unsaturated fatty acids also have beneficial effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems."

Despite the fact that its functions are decisive for the body, in addition to the fact that it has proven properties on the skin, there are many people who have never heard of vitamin F. This is due, according to Torrent, to a matter of nomenclature. "Omega-3 and omega-6 are the order of the day, but on the other hand they are not known by the name of vitamin F. In fact, if we do an internet search on vitamins, very few portals do mention of vitamin F”, explains the nutritionist.

Vitamin F helps improve the so-called bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good cholesterol (HDL), "which has an impact on the cardiovascular system, preventing the appearance of heart problems," explains Morillo. In addition, it improves the health of the nervous system, which can be beneficial to prevent or reduce symptoms related to aging of the body, as well as the possibility of suffering from certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It also has anti-inflammatory functions and its cosmetic properties stand out above all. “Vitamin F appears more and more in skin care products, since as a fatty acid it contributes to restoring the natural barrier and improves hydration. It also has a very important role in preventing skin sensitivity”, explains the bluaU de Sanitas nutritionist.

Some of the symptoms that may indicate a deficiency of this vitamin are hair loss, dry tear ducts and even "noticing a general drop in performance and having immune problems such as colds, flu or allergic reactions", continues Morillo. For his part, Torrent explains that some values ​​that may be affected in laboratory tests due to vitamin D deficiency are LDL cholesterol (which could increase), although the most effective is to perform a fatty acid analysis in red blood cells or erythrocytes in a blood test. "Through this study, it is possible to know the consumption of these fatty acids in the last three months, so that it allows us to know for sure if there really is a deficit, since part of the symptoms described can also occur when there are other nutritional deficiencies," he says. the nutritionist.

In the same way that a vitamin F deficiency can have consequences on the body, an excess could also be harmful. "Excessive consumption of fatty acids can lead to stomach aches and heartburn," says Torrent.

Since the body cannot synthesize it, the only way to get this vitamin is through the consumption of a series of foods. It is important to bear in mind that it is not enough to take omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, present in a good variety of foods, but it is also essential that the consumption of these is balanced. An imbalance between them can lead to inflammation and health problems, from trauma and infection to chronic degenerative diseases.

According to an article written by scientists from the La Paz University Hospital in Madrid, published in the Nutrición Hospitalaria journal, "most studies indicate that the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 should be lower than what we currently find in the general population. In this line, it is necessary to promote nutritional education programs stressing the need to increase the consumption of foods rich in omega-3, or even incorporate functional foods or dietary supplements when required, although always in the form of certified and validated products with guarantees of purity and quality, to be consumed in the context of a balanced diet”.

This means that, in general, the western population consumes more omega-6 than required. Niklas Gustafson, co-founder of Natruly, a company specializing in the development of natural and healthy products explains it: "The ratio should be approximately one part of omega-3 for every part of omega-6, although in Western diets there is usually a predominance of omega-6 well above what is recommended.If there is a prevalence of omega-6 acids, present in some vegetable oils and therefore in a large part of processed products, inflammatory processes can occur in the body”.

It is useless, therefore, to consume foods rich in omega-6 if they are not combined with the consumption of omega-3. The good news is that the latter is present in numerous common foods in our diet, so it is very easy to obtain through food. Here are some of them: