Optimal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 - All Essential Fatty Acids Are Essential, But Most of Us Get Too Many of Some and Not Enough of Others

Experts sometime talk about "good" omega-3 essential fatty acids and "bad" omega-6 essential fatty acids, but the common denominators of both these kinds of fat is that they are essential. The body uses omega-6 fatty acids to make the hormones that encourage inflammation, tension, and blood clotting. The body uses the omega-3 fatty acids to make the hormones that curb the activity of the hormones made with the omega-3's.

Our bodies need both kinds of hormones. The problem is that the modern diet, especially in the United States, provides far too many of the pro-inflammatory omega-6's and not enough of the anti-inflammatory omega-3's.

Because of the widespread use of corn oil and soybean oil in food manufacturing and food preparation, both products being high in omega-6 fat with little or no omega-3 fat, many Americans get up to 30 times more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat. There are two important steps to correcting that ratio and getting inflammation and regulation back into balance.

One thing almost everyone in the United States needs to do is to cut back on fat in general. It's a lot easier to get the optimal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 closer to 1 to 1 if one simply consumes less corn oil, soybean oil, and saturated fat.

The other thing that can be done to bring these two kinds of essential fatty acids into balance is to take omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements.

Microalgae are a superior source of the omega-3 essential fatty acid used by cells in the brain, DHA.

Fish oil is a superior source of the omega-3 essential fatty acid that fights inflammation, EPA.

Flaxseed oil contains neither DHA nor EPA, but it is an excellent source of a substance the body can use to make EPA and DHA.

The conversion of the ALA in flaxseed oil (and seeds and nuts) into EPA and then into DHA goes faster in the presence of estrogen. Women get greater benefit from flaxseed oil supplements than men. Both men and women benefit from fish oil or microalgae.

Rrecommended Ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6

If you have Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or multiple sclerosis, a nutritionist may make a very careful calculation of your diet's ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio to keep inflammation to a minimum.

For everyone else, however, it is enough just eat less saturated fat, and to be sure to supplement. Take 1 to 3 capsules of high-quality fish oil every day, or up to 5 capsules of ALA-rich flaxseed oil every day if you are a woman, 10 capsules of ALA-rich flaxseed oil if you are a man.

Men or women can benefit from up to 5 capsules of DHA-rich microalgae every day, although it is not necessary to take both microalgae and fish oil. Keep consumption of egg yolks, beef processed meat, and sugar to a minimum to enhance the benefits of your omega-3 supplements.

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