How Many Omega 3s & Omega 6s Does Your Body Need?

By  //  July 29, 2022

It can be difficult to keep up with healthy habits when life gets hectic. Eating enough protein, fruits and vegetables is a big enough task as is. So any talk of micronutrients and essential vitamins and minerals can start to feel like rocket science. However, it is important to understand essential nutrients in order to achieve maximum wellness.

Today we are going to tackle the topic of omega 3 vs omega 6. Keep reading for everything you need to know about these essential fatty acids.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids 

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. The term polyunsaturated refers to the chemical structure of Omega 3s. Simply put, polyunsaturated fats have molecules with more than one unsaturated carbon bond. Your body cannot make this type of fat on its own so you will need to get this nutrient from your diet. This is why omega 3s are referred to as an essential fat.

Omega 3 fats play a crucial role in the membranes of your cells. They are also responsible for improving heart health by managing cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels. They also help to support mental health by managing or preventing things like depression, Parkinson’s disease, and psychosis.

Along with mental health support, they also help with brain development in infants. Omega 3s can assist in reduction of weight and waist size and therefore the risks that come with excess fat in these areas. They are also known to help fight inflammation and decrease the amount of fat in the liver.

If your intake of omega 3 fatty acids is too low, you could experience adverse effects. Inflammation and chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis and even heart failure are all things that you are at risk of if your intake falls below the recommended amount.

If you want to increase your intake of omega 3s, you’ll want to prioritize certain foods. Fish like mackerel and salmon or herring have high levels of omega 3s. Oysters and caviar also contain significant amounts of this essential fatty acid. There are also plenty of plant-based foods that are rich in omega 3s. Things like flax or chia seeds and walnuts or soybeans are great vegan sources of omega 3.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids 

Omega 6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fats. The difference in chemical structure between omega 3 and 6 fatty acids occurs around the end of the molecule. It is also considered an essential fat so you will need to obtain it from the foods you eat. Its primary function is to provide energy to the body.

Some research suggests that some omega 6 acids found in certain oils can have health benefits for people with chronic conditions. These acids have been suggested to help reduce the symptoms of common inflammatory conditions. The study conducted also found that another acid found in omega 6 can help to reduce fat mass in humans.

If you do not have enough omega 6 in your diet, you may experience some telltale symptoms. Things like dry skin, eczema, brittle nails, or thinning hair are some of the physical indicators you could experience. You may also experience excessive thirst, frequent urination, difficulty sleeping, mood or visual disturbances, and short-term memory issues. There have even been studies that have linked deficiency in early childhood to developmental issues like ADHD.

One thing that you have to be aware of when increasing your omega 6 intake is the risk of overconsumption. It is important to note that overconsumption is more of an issue with omega 6 than underconsumption. Most Americans currently get too much omega 6 in their diet. Just as deficiencies in omega fatty acids can have adverse effects, too much omega 6 can affect you poorly too. If you are getting too much of this fatty acid, you could experience high blood pressure, water retention, swelling and chronic inflammation.

Dietary sources of omega 6 fatty acids include things like poultry, eggs, nuts, hulled sesame seeds, cereals, durum wheat, whole-grain breads, and pumpkin seeds. Vegetable oils are also a major source of omega 6. While omega 6 fatty acids are just as essential as omega 3s, most people need to decrease their intake of omega 6 while increasing their omega 3 intake. Let’s get into just how much of each of these essential fatty acids you need to include in your diet each day.

How Much Should You Be Getting?

So how many omega 3s and 6s should you be including in your diet each week? There is no official recommendation from the government when it comes to these essential fatty acids, but we do have some guidelines to go off. Most organizations recommend that at least a quarter of your essential fatty acids come from omega 3 rather than omega 6. And remember, if you are struggling to balance your diet, don’t be afraid to consult with a nutritionist on how to better achieve your goals.