3

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Omega 3 : Omega 6

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 14, 2011 at 9:35 PM

Great site!

I was just reading Archevore's Dietary Manifesto post and came across this:enter code here

"Many are aware that 6:3 ratio of fatty acids is important, so they try to compensate by taking fish oil to balance the ratio. This doesn't really work to well - you can't realistically eat that much fish, and if you take fish oil supplements, you exacerbate the second, more important problem. Your total PUFA intake is now evan higher and total PUFA, especially including the added highly unstable n-3, leads to oxidative damage to your cells. Your arteries, liver and other organs are not happy. Your insulin resistance and other metabolic control systems may become disturbed"

This is exactly what I do! :-(

I take an Omega 3 Fish Oil daily.

Can anyone clarify this for me?, I'm still fairly new at this.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on November 15, 2011
at 01:44 AM

It is rare even for the Japanese. They don't take fish oil supplements like we do. The only way to OD on omega 3 is really through fish oil. I did a calculation as did Chris Kresser. The number of pounds of fish you have to eat per week is simply not consumable on a human diet.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 15, 2011
at 01:16 AM

I don't think excessive n-3 intake is rare for populations like the Japanese.

7d64d3988de1b0e493aacf37843c5596

(2861)

on November 15, 2011
at 12:57 AM

I believe Kurt has said that total PUFA (omega-6 plus omega-3) should be less than or equal to 4% of calories. This is a little different than others who have said that just omega-6 should be less than or equal to 4% calories. Not sure who is right. I think some of the papers that Peter at Hyperlipid reviewed tended to show excess fish oil being damaging to the liver like other PUFAs are in excess.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on November 14, 2011
at 11:00 PM

Nope; most in the paleo world are concerned about PUFAs.

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6 Answers

6
1586db0f16b2cef51ee4e71ab08ad1a2

(965)

on November 14, 2011
at 09:55 PM

What types of meats do you consume? How heavy are you on your Omega-6's?

Reason being that transitioning to a paleo/primal lifestyle incorporates abandoning most of the omega-6 heavy foods from the past, such as vegetable oils and (ideally) grain-fed beef.

Going to paleo/primal, you've already cut down on your omega-6 intake by drastic measures.

What Kurt Harris is (I believe) saying here is that you cannot compensate for a heavy omega-6 diet by simply popping the omega-3 pills.

If you eat grass fed beef (with a 2:1 ratio of 6:3, versus the--I believe--10:1 ratio of grain fed) and eat fish/take fish oil supplements, you're getting both the ration and total PUFA intake down to more ideal levels.

So, ideally, you should eat lots of fish, grass-fed beef, omega-3 rich eggs and avoid omega-6 as much as possible, through copious amounts of omega-6 heavy meats and vegetable oils.

Does this help clarify things?

3
Medium avatar

on November 15, 2011
at 12:15 AM

Most people eating the current iterations of western diets that are heavy in fast/packaged foods made from commodity grain products are heavily skewed toward PUFA in general as a % of fat, as well as n-6 fats as a % of PUFAs. The reason why this is not a good idea is that various cellular membranes throughout the body are constructed from lipids from the diet. The body has the ability to manufacture saturated fats (like palmitic acid) but it will use dietary fat since it's a more efficient route.

If your cell membranes are constructed of PUFAs (n-6 or n-3) it will alter their form and function with potentially health-reducing effects. If you've been constructing these membranes for years out of n-6 and you remove that fat and switch to n-3, you're still up sh*t creek. It would be far better to instead start eating evolutionarily appropriate amounts of the truly essential fatty acids (arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) in order to manufacture eicosanoids etc. and to manufacture your cellular membranes out of saturated fat. This is a problem that takes care of itself in time with a proper diet. One should not have to eat any fish or fish oil at all, though wild ocean creatures are a great source of minerals.

Much is said about the inflammatory nature of n-6 fats, but it is my belief that it's not the presence of them in the diet that leads to inflammation, it's the lack of an essential amount of n-3 fats. This isn't to say that supplementation should be necessary, simply that you should make sure your diet has both types in the needed (trace) amounts. All but the sloppiest paleo diets should supply these.

2
3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

on November 15, 2011
at 01:06 AM

There are three ways in which PUFA can be harmful.

Omega 6-3 imbalance due to too much Omega 6. Solution: reduce Omega 6; eat Omega 3 rich grass-fed meats and/or supplement with fish oil.

Omega 3-6 imbalance due to too much Omega 3. This is rare but could happen theoretically if you drink too much fish oil. My understanding is that this could be potentially be more dangerous by promoting internal bleeding and oncogenesis. Solution: lay off fish oil.

Too much PUFA consumption (whether Omega 3 or 6) as a % of calories. You don't want to go over, say, 5% of total calories in PUFA, because PUFA is supposedly unstable and is subject to lipid peroxidation. If you take mega doses of fish oil to combat Omega 6-3 imbalance, well, then you could in theory go over the 5% ceiling. You could also go over by indulging too much omega 6 foods like nuts and vegetable oils.

This sounds like walking on a knife's edge. But it doesn't have to be. Just minimize PUFA items, then take no more than 1 tbsp of fish oil daily. Watch out for PUFA in everything, including pork, poultry and even olive oil and avocados.

See also my post here showing that the only safe oils for frying are coconut oil and butter / ghee, not animal fats:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/76903/which-oil-is-best-for-frying-animal-fats-butter-ghee-coconut-oil-or-olive-oil#axzz1djOlThGL

Medium avatar

(39821)

on November 15, 2011
at 01:16 AM

I don't think excessive n-3 intake is rare for populations like the Japanese.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on November 15, 2011
at 01:44 AM

It is rare even for the Japanese. They don't take fish oil supplements like we do. The only way to OD on omega 3 is really through fish oil. I did a calculation as did Chris Kresser. The number of pounds of fish you have to eat per week is simply not consumable on a human diet.

2
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 14, 2011
at 11:20 PM

If you take the recommended dose from the bottle of fish oil daily, you're nowhere near overloading on omega-3s/PUFAs. I'm taking 4 times the dose daily and am doing quite well on it.

Just do a bit of math: Say you're consuming 5 grams of PUFAs daily, 0.5 grams O3 and 4.5 g O6, ratio 1:9, no completely awful but room for improvement. If you add in 2.5 grams of O3 via a supplement (8 fish oil capsules, at least with the brand I use), you're now up to 7.5 grams of PUFA daily, 3 grams O3 and 4.5 grams O6, ratio 1:1.5, that's great.

Now do the math for daily consumptiion of 30 grams of PUFAs daily (realistic on a SAD), 0.5 grams O3 and 29.5 grams O6, ratio 1:59! To get the ratio to the same ratio as before, you'd need to consume 60 of the same fish oil capsules as above.

The key to getting a good PUFA ratio is two-fold: reduce omega-6s and supplement/increase omega-3s.

0
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on November 15, 2011
at 01:01 AM

Maybe this post from Stephan Guyenet will help? It basically echoes what Tyler said: you don't want to take fish oil pills AND keep eating lots of omega 6 fats:

In the modern U.S. and most other affluent nations, we eat so much omega-6 (mostly in the form of liquid industrial vegetable oils), and so little omega-3, that we create a very inflammatory and pro-clotting environment, probably contributing to a number of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease.

There are two ways to stay in balance: reduce omega-6, and increase omega-3. In my opinion, the former is more important than the latter, but only if you can reduce omega-6 to below 4% of calories. If you're above 4%, the only way to reduce your risk is to outcompete the omega-6 with additional omega-3.

What Kurt Harris is saying is he doesn't want you to outcompete your omega 6s with pills; he wants you to keep your dietary omega 6s low enough that it's easier to have the right ratio without taking lots of supplements. But lots and lots of folks supplement a small amount of omega 3 via pills (including me). But aside from Dr. Davis, I don't think there are too many people in the paleo community recommending talking lots of fish oil.

-1
0a2dd50f2d3951bf3fb83fc4638c9512

(1960)

on November 14, 2011
at 10:01 PM

Dunno if that's accurate, but I'm not a doctor. The PUFA stuff in there sounds suspiciously like typical SAD fears. Will be interested in hearing the answers.

Some sites to check out:

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on November 14, 2011
at 11:00 PM

Nope; most in the paleo world are concerned about PUFAs.

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