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Omega-6 fatty acids

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  • Omega-6 fatty acids

    Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body canít make them -- you have to get them through food. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), they help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.
    A healthy diet contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and some omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. In fact, some studies suggest that elevated intakes of omega-6 fatty acids may play a role in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.
    The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease. The Mediterranean diet does not include much meat (which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, though grass fed beef has a more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio) and emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.
    There are several different types of omega-6 fatty acids, and not all promote inflammation. Most omega-6 fatty acids in the diet come from vegetable oils, such as linoleic acid (LA). Be careful not to confuse this with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Linoleic acid is converted to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the body. It is then further broken down to arachidonic acid (AA). GLA is found in several plant based oils, including evening primrose oil (EPO), borage oil, and black currant seed oil.

    Omega-6 fatty acids may be useful for the following health conditions:
    Diabetic neuropathy
    Some studies show that taking gamma linolenic acid (GLA) for 6 months or more may reduce symptoms of nerve pain in people with diabetic neuropathy. People who have good blood sugar control may find GLA more effective than those with poor blood sugar control.
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Studies are mixed as to whether evening primrose oil helps reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Some preliminary evidence suggests evening primrose oil may reduce pain, swelling, and morning stiffness; but other studies have found no effect. When using GLA for symptoms of arthritis, it may take 1 - 3 months for benefits to appear. It is unlikely that evening primrose oil would help stop progression of the disease, so joint damage would still occur.
    Omega-6 fatty acids from food or supplements, such as GLA from evening primrose oil or other sources, have a longstanding history of folk use for allergies. Women who are prone to allergies appear to have lower levels of GLA in breast milk and blood. However, there is no good scientific evidence that taking GLA helps reduce allergy symptoms. Well conducted research studies are needed.
    If you decide to try GLA for allergies, work with your health care provider to first determine if it is safe for you. Then follow your allergy symptoms closely for any signs of improvement or lack or improvement.

    Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    Clinical studies suggest that children with ADHD have lower levels of EFAs, both omega-6s and omega-3s. EFAs are important to normal brain and behavioral function. Some studies indicate that taking fish oil (containing omega-3 fatty acids) may help reduce ADHD symptoms, though the studies have not been well designed. Studies that used evening primrose oil have found it was no better than placebo at reducing symptoms.
    Breast cancer
    One study found that women with breast cancer who took GLA had a better response to tamoxifen (a drug used to treat estrogen sensitive breast cancer) than those who took only tamoxifen. Other studies suggest that GLA inhibits tumor activity among breast cancer cell lines. There is some research suggesting that a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids may promote breast cancer development.
    Evidence is mixed as to whether evening primrose oil can help reduce symptoms of eczema. Some early studies found benefit, but they were not well designed. Later studies that examined people who took evening primrose oil for 16 - 24 weeks found no improvement in symptoms. If you want to try evening primrose oil, talk to your health care provider about whether it is safe for you.
    High blood pressure (Hypertension)
    There is some preliminary evidence that GLA may help reduce high blood pressure, either alone or in combination with omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fish oil. In one study, men with borderline high blood pressure who took 6g of blackcurrant oil had a reduction in diastolic blood pressure compared to those who took placebo.
    Another study examined people with intermittent claudication, pain in the legs while walking that is caused by blockages in the blood vessels. Those who took GLA combined with EPA had a reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to those who took placebo.
    More research is needed to see whether GLA is truly effective for hypertension.
    Menopausal symptoms
    Evening primrose oil has gained popularity as a way to treat hot flashes associated with menopause, but so far studies have not shown that it works. If you want to try evening primrose oil for hot flashes and night sweats, ask your health care provider whether it is safe and right for you.
    Some evidence suggests that evening primrose oil may reduce breast pain and tenderness in people with cyclic mastalgia. It may also help reduce symptoms to a lesser extent in people with non cyclic mastalgia. However, it does not seem to be effective for severe breast pain.

    Multiple Sclerosis
    Evening primrose oil has been suggested as an additional treatment (in addition to standard therapy) for multiple sclerosis (MS) although there is no scientific evidence that it works. MS patients who want to add evening primrose oil to their treatment regimens should talk with a health care provider.
    Some studies suggest that people who donít get enough of some essential fatty acids (particularly EPA and GLA) are more likely to have bone loss than those with normal levels of these fatty acids. In a study of women over 65 with osteoporosis, those who took EPA and GLA supplements had less bone loss over 3 years than those who took placebo. Many of these women also experienced an increase in bone density.
    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
    Although most studies have found no effect, some women report relief of PMS symptoms when using GLA. The symptoms that seem to be helped the most are breast tenderness and feelings of depression, as well as irritability and swelling and bloating from fluid retention.

    Hercules Krill Oil is a super antioxidant* composed of pure oil delivered from Antarctic krill. Krill are plentiful, tiny, bright, pink, shrimp-like crustaceans. The three (3) key substances in krill oil the human body needs to function properly include: omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA), phospholipids (an important component of all cell membranes) and anti-oxidants, including astaxanthin (a potent carotenoid that gives krill its red-orange color). Hercules Krill Oil also provides the fatty acids omega-6, omega-9 and vitamins B, E, A and D. It should be noted that Hercules krill are harvested responsibly.

    In scientific research, krill oil is shown to promote cardiovascular health, to maintain cholesterol levels already within the normal range and to support joint health.* For women, krill oil may provide relief from PMS symptoms and may ease the transition of menopause.* In addition, Krill oilís efficacious, antioxidant ingredient, astaxanthin, can provide excellent support for the eyes and skin against ultraviolet light.*

  • #2
    most interesting

    There is so much good information here. I found the info on evening primrose oil interesting as it's recommended for more than one ailment I deal with. I had no idea that it can be used to combat osteoporosis and arthritis. The extensive ideas on omega oils are familiar to me but I didn't realize the necessity of balancing omega 3 and 6 or that grass fed meat has a better balance. Good to know.


    • #3
      Omega-3 and omega-6 are types of essential fatty acids - meaning we cannot make them on our own and have to obtain them from our diet. Both are polyunsaturated fatty acids that differ from each other in their chemical structure. In modern diets, there are few sources of omega-3 fatty acids, mainly the fat of cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish. There are two critical omega-3 fatty acids,


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