Which omega fatty acids are essential?

Physiologically speaking, there are two fatty acids that are truly “essential”. These are Linoleic Acid (LA) omega-6 fatty acid and Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acid. The body cannot manufacture these fats itself, yet they are essential for health. A healthy body uses LA and ALA to produce other fatty acids, which, in turn, produce beneficial hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids. There are also derivative fatty acids which each play specific roles in the maintenance of good health, and we generally include them when we talk about essential fatty acids: Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). There is one other derivative fatty acid that isn’t always a good in large quantities, but it, too, is necessary in small amounts: Arachidonic Acid (AA).