Getting the right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids has become a hot topic in nutrition. These two types of polyunsaturated fats play vital roles in the body and need to be consumed in the right ratios for optimal health.
However, the modern Western diet often leads to an imbalanced omega 3:omega-6 ratio, with most people consuming significantly more omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3s. Some researchers suggest that the distorted omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is a major dietary concern that may lead to serious health issues, especially in relation to inflammation .
Achieving the ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is necessary for optimal health, and it can be accomplished through a combination of dietary changes and supplementation with high-quality products like Ascent Nutrition’s Algae Oil DHA.
In this article, we will break down the importance of omega-3s in your daily routine in addition to highlighting the optimal omega-3:omega-6 ratio to support your overall well-being.
Nutrition of Fats – Understanding the Benefits of Omega-3 and 6
Fats often get a bad reputation, but the truth is that some fats are very beneficial for health. The key is understanding the differences between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Polyunsaturated fats include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are biologically active and play various important health-promoting roles in the body when consumed in the right amounts and ratios.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, including Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). For omega-6s, the most common fatty acid is linoleic acid.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself, meaning they must come from the diet.
Omega-3s have well-established health-promoting benefits for the brain, heart, eye, and immune system, while omega-6s in the right amounts and ratios support skin health, metabolism, hair growth, and the immune system (but in a different way than omega-3s).
Importance of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids play indispensable roles in human health, making sufficient intake vitally important. As a nutritionally “essential” fat, omega-3s must come from the diet. The body simply cannot produce these healthy fats on its own.
The long-chain omega-3s found in seafood and algae oils called EPA and DHA are the most potent at providing the health-promoting benefits of omega-3s.
But as highlighted earlier, modern diets are frequently deficient in omega-3 EPA and DHA while being overloaded with omega-6 fatty acids which are abundant in foods cooked in refined vegetable oils.
Correcting this omega-3 vs omega-6 imbalance is crucial for allowing omega-3s to have their full biological influence.
Here are some of the ways adequate omega-3 consumption supports human wellness:
Brain & Neurologic Function
Structural role in neuron cell membranes
Promotes neurite growth, synaptogenesis, and neurogenesis
Influences cell signaling pathways tied to mood regulation
Supports brain defenses against oxidative stress
Supports a healthy stress response and mood by influencing the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin
Heart & Artery Health
Helps support healthy blood pressure levels
Supports vascular flexibility and endothelial function
Supports healthy cholesterol and triglyceride ranges
Eye & Vision Health
Structural role in retina for visual processing
Supports the body’s ability to scavenge harmful free radicals
Supports a healthy inflammatory response in the retina
Encourages healthy ocular blood circulation
Supports a healthy inflammatory response
Supports healthy bone density
Stimulates muscle protein synthesis
Promotes stamina or endurance
Promotes cell membrane barrier function
Supports the body’s defense against UV rays that can be harmful in high doses
The unique benefits of omega-3 EPA & DHA show why sufficient intake levels are so important, especially with today’s high omega-6 load. Correcting this imbalance helps set the stage for supporting systemic good health.
While omega-6s are also essential for overall health, an excessive intake of these essential fatty acids is associated with an unhealthy inflammatory response.
By focusing on maintaining a healthy omega-3:omega-6 ratio, we can support our brain health, cardiovascular health, immune function, and inflammatory response for a healthier lifestyle.
To gain the full benefits of these essential fatty acids, what should the optimal omega-3 to omega-6 balance look like?
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Omega-3 Vs Omega-6 – Best Omega 3:Omega-6 Ratio
Both omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids play vital roles in keeping the body’s physiology functioning smoothly. But when consumed in the wrong ratios, omega-6 fats can undermine the natural health-promoting effects that omega-3s provide.
In the past, human diets had a significantly lower omega-3:omega-6 ratio of between 1:1 and 1:4  .
However, the modern Western diet has significantly impacted this ratio, causing it to become imbalanced and leading to potential health issues.
With the increased consumption of omega-6s from vegetable oils used in fried and processed foods (combined with inadequate omega-3 intake), the typical Western diet is estimated to have an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of around 1:17 (or more) .
In fact, common vegetable oils like safflower oil and corn oil have omega-3:omega-6 ratios of approximately 1:77 and 1:60, respectively, highlighting the imbalance .
Correcting this skew back toward a healthier ratio may help promote healthy markers for cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, and overall wellness.
By making conscious dietary choices and incorporating omega-3 supplements, we can work towards achieving a healthy omega-3 to omega-6 ratio and promoting optimal health. Here’s how we can support the health-promoting benefits of omega-3 and omega-6:
Reduce omega-6 intake where possible by limiting oils rich in omega-6 (e.g., soybean, corn, and safflower oil), fried foods, and processed snacks.
Increase omega-3 consumption by eating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Keep in mind that the recommended daily intake of DHA and EPA needed to raise a person’s omega-3 index percentage to optimal levels is 7,000-14,000 mg of DHA per week. This is the equivalent of 5-11 servings of salmon.
Omega-3 supplements can be an effective way to maintain a balanced omega-3:omega-6 ratio, particularly for individuals who may struggle to obtain adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through diet alone. So unless you have it in you to consume up to 11 servings of salmon week in and week out, omega-3 supplementation is key.
Best Source of Omega-3 – Algae Oil DHA
Not all sources of omega-3 fatty acids are created equal. Among the various options available, Algae Oil DHA stands out as a superior source of omega-3s for supporting brain health and overall well-being.
Ascent Nutrition offers a high-quality Algae Oil DHA supplement made with a specific wild-type strain of algae to help you achieve the ideal omega-3:omega-6 ratio and promote optimal health.
Algae oil also provides a highly bioavailable form of DHA that can be easily absorbed and utilized by the body, making it a superior source of omega-3 for those looking to optimize their health.
A 2.0 mL serving of Ascent Nutrition’s Algae Oil DHA omega-3 supplement offers 1,000 mg of DHA and 10 mg of EPA, which is enough to meet the daily recommended intake if you follow the suggested use.
By incorporating this high-quality supplement into your diet, you can optimize your omega-3 intake and enjoy the numerous health benefits associated with a balanced omega-3:omega-6 ratio.
Visit Ascent Nutrition’s Algae Oil DHA product page to learn more.
Innes, J. K., & Calder, P. C. (2018). Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 132, 41-48: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29610056/
Balić, A., Vlašić, D., Žužul, K., Marinović, B., & Bukvić Mokos, Z. (2020). Omega-3 versus omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of inflammatory skin diseases. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(3), 741: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7037798/
Patterson, E., Wall, R., Fitzgerald, G. F., Ross, R. P., & Stanton, C. (2012). Health implications of high dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2012: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335257/
Simopoulos, A. P. (2008). The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Experimental biology and medicine, 233(6), 674-688: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.3181/0711-MR-311?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed&
DiNicolantonio, J. J., & O’Keefe, J. (2021). The importance of Maintaining a Low omega-6/omega-3 Ratio for Reducing the Risk of autoimmune diseases, asthma, and allergies. Missouri Medicine, 118(5), 453: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8504498/