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benfits of omega 6 and 3 fatty acids, part 1


Omega six fatty acids and omega three atty acids and how they impact health: including autoimmune diseases, bone health, eye sight, heart disease, menstrual issues, skin, fatty liver, weight gain/obesity (including metabolic syndrome), inflammation (including cancer), and mental health (anxiety, depression, sleep hygiene, and cognitive decline/dementia).

Omega 6 fatty acids are found in many foods (4).  They are found in most plant seeds, except for the seeds of palm, cocoa and coconut.  Omega 6s are also found in animal products (grain fed meat and dairy cows and chickens, including eggs) and some types of fish.

They are important to the immune and endocannabinoid systems.   They are necessary for a healthy body and changes to Omega 6 consumption can cause health problems like hypertension, diabetes, and hepatorenal syndrome, which causes kidney and liver problems (19).  Omega 6s are important to human health, but only in the wright quantity.

There are two types of Omega 6 fatty acids, pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory (33). The Pro-inflammatory type is Arachidonic Acid (AA), which in moderation helps with brain development, nervous system health, and muscle growth.  It is found in dairy products, eggs and meats.  The anti-inflammatory type is Linoleic Acid (LA), which turns to Gama-linolenic Acid or GLA (33) and finally to Dihomogamma Linlenic Acid (DGLA), making it anti-inflammatory (35).  This type of Omega 6 is found in butter (from grass fed dairy), nuts, seeds and vegetable oil (33) and in green leafy vegetables, as well as breast milk (35).

Cellular health: Omega 6s are important to health and cellular functioning.  They produce molecules (called eicosanoid metabolic products) that are important in cell signalling.  These signals are significant to many things including magnitude of pain, blood pressure, cell growth, reproduction (spontaneous miss carriage and labour), controlling blood flow in tissues, and in immunity, (starting and stopping inflammation, fever, allergy responses etc.).   These molecules are produced in the membranes of all, or most, cells in the body (4).

Joint and bone health: GLA specifically helps to lower pain, inflammation and stiffness associated with arthritis. GLA supplements slow degenerative joint diseases and helps to treat osteoporosis as it increasing the absorption of, and build up of, calcium in bones (38). In a study of older (65+) female osteoporosis sufferers, those who took EPA and GLA supplements experienced less bone loss over a three-year period.  Many subjects also had an increase in bone density (39).

Inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis: DGLA is very important in controlling inflammation as well as playing a role in cellular health and gene expression (35).   Evening primrose oil, a good source of GLA, is reported to reduces pain, swelling, and stiffness. Take 540 mg per day, up to 2.8 g per day.  Divide the doses. But, it can take up to six months to see a difference (36).

Heart health: GLA specifically lessens the formation of plaque in the walls of the arteries of the cardiovascular system.  It also helps lower cholesterol levels (38).  LA might lower risk of coronary disease (40).  720 Harvard T.H. Chan website.  Webpage: the nutrition source, Dietary linoleic acid and risk of coronary heart disease.

Omega 6s (GLA) helps reduce hypertension or high blood pressure: either alone or in conjunction with omega 3s from fish oil (EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA or docosahexaenoic acid).  In a study on males, subjects who took six grams of black currant oil per day saw a reduction in their diastolic blood pressure vs. those in the placebo condition (39).

GLA can reduce blood pressure when an individual is under stress (38).

Diabetic pain: Omega 6s, in GLA form, help manage and reduce pain when people experience diabetic neuropathy or nerve pain (34;38). GLA improves communication between nerves and the functioning of nerves. Helping to prevent and improve nerve damage (38).  This is important as nerve damage can be experienced as numbness in the extremities (hands/feet/legs).  If this is very bad it can lead to amputation.

Control blood sugar: GLA also helps to control blood sugar (34).

Attention deficit hyperactive disorder: a study of 75 youth found that after 6 months of being given a mix of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids had a meaningful reduction of symptoms, including inattention (37).

Skin health: GLA improves the skin barrier’s functioning by restoring moisture, which makes skin smoother and healthier, compensating dryness and damage.  It can also treat inflammation that results from dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or itchy skin (38).

Muscle mass: which decreases with age can be helped by taking the right amount of AA.  It helps skeletal muscle cells grow and develop.  In an animal study AA supplementation increased skeletal muscle size, increase in the amount of cytoplasm in a cell (myonuclear content), and an increase in the time it takes protein to turnover or bread down and be synthesized by the cell (protein accretion) of developing muscle fibres called myotubes (41). This last is important as protein accretion slows with age.

The social component of autism spectrum disorder: ARA, from Omega 6s, and DHA, from Omega 3s, play a key role in brain network development.  ARA is important in signal transduction regarding maturation of neurons (42). It has been shown, in a small human study (subjects approximately 14 years old), to be improved with large doses of AA and smaller amounts if DHA. The subjects in the active (real oil) condition showed a significant improvement in social withdrawal (according to the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist-Community) and communication (according to the Social Responsiveness Scale).  Blood tests showed an increase in markers associated with greater brain cell communication (signal transduction).  In this case plasma transferrin levels and plasma superoxide dismutase levels (42).

Breast cancer: women with breast cancer taking GLA had a better reaction to the medication tamoxifen then those only taking the drug (39). Breast pain, called cyclic mastalgia can be helped by EPO (Evening Primrose Oil) might help lesson mild breast pain (39).

Menopausal symptoms: EPO might help with night seats and hot flashes (39).

Too much AA can lead to a deficit in GLA, this is as too much AA disrupts the bodies’ ability to convert LA to GLA (33).   A balance between AA and LA is needed. The best sources of LA/GLA are borage (highest amount), evening primrose, black current seed, fungal oils and the blue green algae Spirulina (39) as well as echium, and hemp seed.  GLA supplements are usually made from evening primrose oil or EPO.  Supplements should be organic, in a light resistant package, be refrigerated, and have freshness date (39).

While there is no official recommended daily amount of LA, 11 to 12 grams for women and 14 to 17 grams for men per day should give the body enough to convert to the needed amount of LA.

Omega 6s can be found in the following foods: seeds, nuts, oils from canola, corn, safflower, soybean, and sunflower (40). A tbsp of   corn or soybean oil has approximately 7 g of LA (linoleic acid) and 11 walnuts (shelled) provide approximately 11g of LA.   These sources of Omega 6s also provide Omega 3s.

We need the following nutrients to properly convert GLA to DGLA: Magnesium, vitamins B 3 and 6, as well as C., and zinc (43).

Don’t take EPO if you have a seizure disorder or are taking epoin combined with anesthetics.  Stop taking 2 weeks before surgery if you need anesthesia.  Don’t take if pregnant.  Don’t take more than 3 000 mg GLA per day as it can increase inflammation.

Side effects of EPO (39): headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and loose stools.

Some omega 6’s (found in corn oil) might contribute to prostate tumor cells.  So, don’t take if at risk of prostate cancer.

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  6. i learned a lot about the need to eat healthy to balance my Omega fatty acids.

  7. read this twice. I am learning more every time. I am going to really try to eat better sources of Omega threes and six’s.

  8. I am really loving these posts, the information is so detailed and helpful for people like me who have arthritis and chronic pain.

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