Are there any Omega 6 benefits? While much has been said about the amazing benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids, their cousin – the omega 6 – is largely ignored in these discussions. Why this discrimination? Let’s find out.
One of the omega-6s is an essential fatty acid, meaning that the human body cannot produce it. So it has to be present in the diet. The essential fatty acids have been known for decades. The subject today surrounds a dietary imbalance that affects millions of individuals.
Most people get far too many omega-6s in their diets and they don’t get enough omega-3s. Both are essential. Both are polyunsaturated. But the presence of too many omega-6s and the lack of too many omega-3s lead to a health problem called chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation plays a role in many age-related diseases and is a cause of cellular aging. It plays a role in the big killers: heart disease and cancer. It is the underlying cause of arthritis and is involved in Alzheimer’s.
Omega 6 vs Omega 3
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are converted within the body into inflammatory hormones. Omega-6s are converted into some of the most inflammatory hormones, including prostaglandins and eicosanoids. Omega-3s are converted into less inflammatory hormones and they compete with the 6s for conversion.
This means that if there were an equivalent amount of 3s and 6s in the diet, there would be less risk of chronic inflammation, because more 3s would be converted.
So, are there any omega 6 benefits? If we are talking about increased intake of the fatty acids, the answer is “no”. There is no benefit. The average person gets more than enough through diet alone.
On the other hand, more than one health benefit has been associated with increased intake of omega-3s. They are often referred to as healthy fats. Increased intake is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
In addition to limiting the production of super-inflammatory hormones, some omega-3 supplements are known to have anti-inflammatory activity. They actually reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Fish oil is an example of an anti-inflammatory supplement, although the anti-inflammatory activity varies from one brand to the next. The benefit of any fish oil supplement outweighs the omega 6 benefits by far.
Now, some omega-3 supplements are derived from flax seed oil. Flax seed oil is rich in an omega-3 called ALA. It does not have the same anti-inflammatory activity of the DHA and EPA found in fish oils. Increased intake of ALA may actually have negative health effects, such as an increased risk of prostate cancer. So make sure you opt for a fish oil based supplement and not one using flax seed oil.
Although there are no known omega 6 benefits, there are plenty of risks. The risks associated with excessive or imbalanced intake include stroke, heart disease, mood disorders, obesity, breast cancer and prostate cancer. It’s obviously a good idea to try and reduce those risks. A quality Fish oil supplement can help you do that. Choose wisely.