Perfect isn’t thereThe fact that supplement producers disagree wildly on what the “ideal doses” are is only one reason to leave omegas 6 and 9 on the pharmacy shelf. Some say the ratio is 4 omega-6 to 1 omega-3. Others say 1-to-1 omega-3 to omega-6. Others say 2-to-1. It’s all over the map. Let me share the basic science as simply as I can.
The fatty acid “teams”Omegas 3, 6, and 9 all play different, specialized roles in our bodies. And each has a specialized team of component acids. The omega-3 team includes some super-skilled players:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) produces chemicals that help reduce inflammation and symptoms of depression (1, 2).
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) accounts for a high percentage of our brain weight, and is vitally important to normal brain development and function.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) helps produce EPA and DHA, and is used by our body for energy. (5).
- Reduce inflammation throughout the body
- Improve heart health
- Support mental health
- Reduce weight and waist size
- Reduce liver fat
- Prevent dementia
- Promote bone health
- Prevent asthma
So what about omegas 6 and 9?The omega-6 team also contains different, specialized sub-acids. Working with the omega-3 team, many play a critical role in:
- Supporting brain function
- Promoting normal growth and development
- Stimulating skin and hair growth
- Maintaining bone health
- Regulating metabolism
- Maintaining the reproductive system
- Producing energy
Omega-6 overdoseJust like omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, can’t be produced by our bodies. We get them from our diets. And guess what most Americans’ diets already contain? Typically, 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. A full-on SAD can push that up to 50 to 1. Let there be a healthy, continuing difference of opinion as to the perfect ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. But let it be beyond dispute that 14 to 25 to 50 omega-6 to 1 omega-3 is dangerously over the top. In fact, it’s highly likely that the omega-6 overdose plays a huge role in the nationwide epidemic of chronic inflammation. Let’s let The Mediterranean Diet point the way, where the high end of the ratio is 4 omega-6 to 1 omega-3. Me, I’d tighten the reins even more: the ideal ratio is 2–1.
The omega-9 teamOmega-9s include:
- Oleic acid, a fat found in olive oil, macadamia oil, poultry fat, and lard. Some suspect it’s the fat responsible for olive oil’s amazing powers, but it’s not proven.
- Mead acid may have some anti-inflammatory properties.
- Erucic acid is possibly harmful to humans.
- Nervonic acid is important for healthy brain function.