Omega-6 fatty acids are metabolized by the body into arachidonic acid. This in turn is transformed into prostaglandin (PG) E2 and leukotriene (LT) B4, two instigators of an imbalanced inflammatory response. The omega-3 fatty acid EPA also is converted into arachidonic acid, but the resulting products are not as powerful mediators of inflammation.
Achieving an optimal balance between these two essential fatty acids is important for health. Eating too many omega-6 fatty acids and too few omega-3s leads to an imbalanced inflammatory state. However, the modern Westernized diet has an unhealthy omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 20:1. Compare this to the 1:1 ratio consumed by our ancestors. This dietary imbalance in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio may be justifiably blamed for a large number of health conditions.
An important way to achieve a more favorable omega-6/omega-3 ratio is to eat more foods rich in omega-3s and avoid eating too many foods high in omega-6 fatty acids. Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, and eggs fortified with this essential fatty acid. High levels of omega-6s are found in corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, and sunflower oils. Canola oil also has a higher content of omega-6s compared with omega-3 fatty acids.
Surprising Number of Health Benefits Linked To Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Thousands of studies in medical journals have explored the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. This is a summary of some of the findings.
Healthy levels of essential fatty acids may be linked to an increased sense of well-being and happiness.(1)
In a study of 120 women, 2 grams of essential fatty acids helped women feel more calm and comfortable during the premenstrual period.(2) Evening primrose oil, which is a good source of essential fatty acids, has been found to reduce the intensity of hot flashes in menopausal women.(3)
Supplementation with fish oil may lead to a healthy, regular heart rate.(4) In addition, giving EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids to patients on statin-drugs improved arterial health compared to the medications alone.(5) Black currant seed oil also supports healthy LDL cholesterol levels already in the normal range.(6)
Essential fatty acids have been shown in a number of studies to help promote healthy function of joints, leading to more comfort during exercise and daily activities.(7,8)
Omega-3 fatty acids, especially when given with other nutrients, may support healthy social skills in children and interaction with family and peers.(9) Essential fatty acids, including those found in flax oil, may also promote calm behavior.(10)
A balanced omega-3/omega-6 ratio is associated with increased tear production in the eyes of people who wear contact lenses. This leads to more comfortable eyes.(11)
Higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may be linked to increased lung health.(12)
Black currant seed oil, which contains a balanced level of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, supports a healthy immune response related to its ability to reduce prostaglandin E(2) production.(13)
In one study, supplementation with either the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA or borage oil containing gamma-linoleic acid led to clearer skin.(14) Another study found the use of flaxseed or borage oil supplements improved skin hydration and smoothness in women.(15)
A diet higher in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3s is associated with an increased risk of obesity.(16)
Why a DHA EPA Supplement Is Crucial For Optimal Levels of Essential Fatty Acids
In this modern world, it’s virtually impossible to nourish the body with the optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone. Too many foods contain large amounts of omega-6s, leading to an imbalance in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio.
To help introduce more Omega 3’s into the body, Vital Nutrients offers a selection of Ultra Pure® Fish Oil supplements, including an enteric-coated form that prevents unpleasant repeating and fish oil combined with CoQ10 for additional heart health support.
For those interested in a plant based sources of Omega 3’s, Flax oil may be considered, as it is considered a building block for omega 3 fatty acids . Additionally, Black Current Seed Oil, contains a balanced amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and Evening Primrose Oil, which contains gamma linolenic acid, a healthy form of omega-6, may help to support a more balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.