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Nutrient - Cetylated fatty acids (CFAs)

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT

It has been known for a while now that fatty acids benefit joint and skin health. Now new research has found that a process called esterification can enhance the valuable effects of these special oils and improve the speed at which they work within the body.

Cetylated fatty acids (CFAs) (Cetyl Myristoleate) are naturally-occurring forms of fatty acids that have been esterified to leave them stable in the presence of oxygen. This makes them especially suitable for use in both capsules and creams. In the cetylated form, fatty acids can be more speedily absorbed into the body. Scientific studies have shown that their beneficial effects may be experienced within 30 minutes of use. 

Cetylated fatty acids work similarly to, but much more dramatically than, the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish oil. One of the primary effects of cetylated fatty acids is on cellular health, where they help to maintain the elasticity and water content of cells. This extra fluid and suppleness within cell membranes helps to act as a cushion for the bones and joints, which aids flexibility and movement. Moreover, cetylated fatty acids also have helpful lubricating effects that support joint mobility.

In addition, the cetylated forms of fatty acids seem to be very effective at keeping certain inflammatory processes within the body in check. In particular, they have been shown to reduce levels of the inflammatory messengers, Interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, as well as helping to keep levels of an inflammation-creating enzyme, called 5-lipoxygenase, within a healthy range. Scientists also think that cetylated fatty acids may help to support cell membranes in a way that protects them from the action of excess inflammatory messengers.

If this isn’t enough, further studies suggest that cetylated fatty acid preparations may be beneficial for skin health as well. The effects on cell membrane flexibility and cell hydration make topical cetylated fatty acid preparations an excellent choice of  intensive moisturiser. Since fatty acids in this form can also be absorbed through the skin into the tissues beneath, topical use can provide additional anti-inflammatory benefits, as well. Keeping a pot of a cetylated fatty acid-based cream in the bathroom cabinet is a great way to ensure you always have something to hand when you feel your skin needs that little something extra, although those creams containing menthol should not be used on the face.

Cetylated fatty acids are an excellent choice for active people, such as gardeners, walkers and sports people, who want to help keep their joints supple and healthy, and can be used both on the skin and in the diet in supplement form. Employed daily for maintenance, or just at those times when you feel you need it most, cetylated fatty acids will give your joints optimal support.  

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