Most people are familiar with the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but what about omega-3s lesser-known cousin—omega-6? Is omega-6 worth taking, or are omega-6 fatty acids dangerous and hazardous to your health?
While research indicates that omega-6 fatty acids do offer some health benefits, they also come with a series of drawbacks and side effects that raise serious concern.
5 Potential Benefits of Omega-6
- Aids Metabolism
- Strengthens Bones
- Reduces Heart Disease
- Maintains Skin and Hair
- Supports the Reproductive System
Omega-6 fatty acids are part of a healthy diet that provides the body with energy more than anything else. However, omega-6 is also needed for skin and hair growth, maintaining healthy bones, regulating metabolism, and maintaining the reproductive system.
While omega-3 fatty acids come from cold-water fish, omega-6 fatty acids primarily come from seeds, nuts, and a variety of oils. Most unhealthy snacks (fast food, cookies, chips, and processed foods) contain omega-6 in the form of vegetable oil.
Safety and Side Effects
It’s easy to consume too much Omega-6 if you eat fast food and processed food. If you overeat junk food with limited nutritional value, a high number of calories, and too much fat, this will negatively affect your health.
While omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease, omega-6 is not so forgiving. If you consume foods that contain too much omega-6, you can develop high blood pressure, blood clots, and increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
There are people out there that consume 50 times more omega-6 than omega-3s. This overconsumption can lead to nutritional imbalances, disease, autoimmune problems, asthma, depression, obesity, and even some forms of cancer.
High doses of omega-6 can also lead to inflammation that can cause a person’s health to spiral out of control. Ultimately, a diet high in omega-6 is inflammatory, and a diet rich in omega-3 is neutral. As a result, increasing your omega-3 intake as you reduce your omega-6 intake reduces inflammation in the body.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine, adults aged 19–50 should consume at least 17 grams of omega-6 for men and 12 grams of omega-6 for women each day.
If you can keep your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 closer to 4:1 or even 3:1, you will reduce inflammation in your body and improve your overall health in the process.
If your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is out of whack, then you are leading yourself down a road to self-destruction. If you eat a lot of soybean oil, corn, and sunflower oil, you should cut these foods out of your diet as these foods contain large amounts of omega-6.
Effectiveness of Omega-6
You need omega-6 for energy, but consuming too much omega-6 will have the opposite effect if you’re not careful. If you consume a diet that is heavy on the side of omega-3 and light on the side of omega-6, you’re already well on the way to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Omega-6 supplementation is not required unless you are in total control of your diet. As a result, you should only consider omega-6 supplements when your diet is so clean you have no omega-6 fatty acids in your body.