Our bodies require both omega 3 and omega 6 to perform important functions. They are essential fatty acids that must be consumed through diet and food supplements, as the body doesn’t produce them naturally.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found naturally in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, pilchards, sardine, fresh tuna (not tinned) and mackerel. It is often difficult meeting daily omega 3 requirements; therefore, supplements are a convenient and consistent source of omega 3. Taking an omega 3 supplement (1-2g of EPA and DHA) has been shown to have a positive effect in reducing inflammation in the body by inhibiting the enzymes which produce hormones that spark inflammation.
There’s no shortage of omega 6 in our diets. Omega 6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat mainly found in soybeans, corn, safflower and sunflower oil, nuts and seeds, meat, poultry, fish and eggs. When eaten in moderation omega 6 fatty acids are beneficial for heart disease. When eaten in excess they become pro-inflammatory in the body.
The challenge is getting enough omega 3 and achieving a balanced omega 6 to omega 3 ratio.
Linoleic acid (LA), an omega 6 fatty acid and alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fatty acid must be consumed from the diet and are known as essential fatty acids.
The omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be produced from ALA. This conversion is limited and therefore it is important to include food sources rich in these fatty acids in the diet or supplementation with this nutrient. ALA and LA are found in plant and seed oils (rapeseed and walnut oil). EPA and DHA are found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel and herring). LA and ALA compete for metabolism by the same enzyme (delta-6-desaturase). A high intake of LA would reduce the amount of enzyme available for the metabolism of ALA, which may increase heart disease and inflammation. Therefore, it is important to have a balanced ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the diet. A target of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio of 1:1 to 2:1 appears to be consistent with studies on aspects of diet, neurodevelopment and genetics.
The omega ratio in the western diet
For optimally healthy cell membranes, we should have a 3:1 ratio balance between omega 6 and omega 3. This ratio protects our cells from oxidative stress, which occurs when antioxidant levels get too low and our body becomes overwhelmed, unable to function properly, which can lead to cell damage.
The good news: It’s possible to fix the imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body.
What is the ideal omega 6 to omega 3 ratio?
The desired omega 6:3 ratio is 3:1 or less. People who don’t have an omega 3 supplement can record a ratio of up to 25:1. Even those who eat fish regularly and take omega supplements test far from the target value, which is 3:1. This is not the fault of individuals but rather a sign of a broken global food system and supplements that are missing vital ingredients for the nutrients to be properly absorbed in the body.
What does a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio mean?
Restoring an out-of-balance omega-6:3 ratio should be a priority. A body in balance means normal brain, heart, immune and cell function.
A diet deficient in omega 3 fatty acids can negatively impact health in several ways. The hard fact is most people don’t realize they’re living out of balance.
Omega 6:3 ratio blood test (Omega BalanceTest)
This is the power of personalized nutrition. While there are recommended daily intakes of fatty acids, there’s no one-serving-for-all. Instead of guessing a ratio, the Omega BalanceTest accurately measures an individual’s fatty acid profile.
It’s a dried blood spot test from the global health and wellness brand Zinzino that provides you with accurate readings of 11 fatty acid levels in your blood.
The analysis is independently managed and the results are completely anonymous. The test includes personalized recommendations and guidelines on how to restore the essential omega 6:3 balance in your body and move forward on your health journey.
How to balance omega 6 and 3
Harmonizing the omega 6:3 ratio is a two-pronged approach. The first and most important step is to make sure your diet includes healthy sources of omega 3. If you need to bridge the nutritional gap with supplements, use BalanceOil+ – the all-natural signature blend of pure fish oil, extra virgin olive oil with polyphenols and vitamin D3.