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Growing animals who are totally deprived of all essential fatty acids show a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. These are the main ones:
• The hair falls out and eczema-like lesions develop. The sebaceous glands hypertrophy.
• Wounds fail to heal normally, apparently due to a failure of connective tissue formation.
• Normal growth fails to occur.
• All body membranes become exceptionally permeable. In particular the skin loses its ability to prevent passage of water. Large amounts of water are lost across the skin, the animal is thirsty, but the urine is concentrated.
• Reproduction fails, especially in males. Females may become pregnant but frequently miscarry and rarely carry a litter to term.
• The kidneys hypertrophy and are prone to hemorrhage, and renal failure develops.
• The liver undergoes fatty degeneration.
• The tear and saliva glands atrophy and so does the pancreas.
• The immune system is defective and there is great susceptibility to infections.
The earliest results of such experiments were obtained as long ago as 1929. Of course, there have been no such deliberate experiments on humans. However, when baby milk formulas were first being developed, they left out EFAs and the babies’ skin became dry, scaly and eczema-like. A similar thing happened when hospital patients were first fed totally by intravenous drip solutions. The drip solutions left out EFAs, and the patients developed skin rashes resembling eczema or
psoriasis. In both cases, the symptoms cleared up once EEAs were given.
Although there have been no long-term studies on EFA deficiency states in humans, one way to test for such deficiency is to see what happens to symptoms when supplemental amounts of EFAs are given.

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