2

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Why the 4 % max of Omega 3 ?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 10, 2010 at 10:50 AM

I know who said it and he's the man but do we have any studies to back him on four being the magic one ? Or any other reasons for this threshold ?

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/05/for-those-not-scientifically-inclined.html

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. Keeping omega-6 below 4% and ensuring a modest but regular intake of omega-3, such as from wild-caught fish, will probably substantially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.

So basically why is threshold for maximum Omega 6 intake 4% and what (study) backs that up ?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I'm not sure why we'd think that: it seems that o6 in tissue is still increasing at 8% in diet, so I'd imagine it would carry on increasing. Stephan's recommendation to reduce o6, but only if you can get it below 4%, seems to be because reducing it from 8%->4% on a 0% o3 diet, only reduces tissue o6 from ~82%->80% (i.e. above 4% dietary o6, tissue o6 levels off). Hence if above 4% dietary o6 the only way to reduce tissue levels is adding o3.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

This is a great summary but still I don't know I can't see thos values from the chart. Y is O-6 tissue saturation, X is % of calories from O-6 but what are the straight lines that range from the Y axis ?

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:49 AM

(but even then, its not as good as having a high o-3 intake - if you have high o-3, your anti-inflammatory response should be higher than your pro-inflammatory based on storage, which on that graph, never goes about 40%). Basically the take home message - ensure you get enough o-3, especially if your intake is over 4% (US's graph line was wack, icelands was the lowest, and basically unaffected by this 4% "peak")...Made some more comments re my analysis below too.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:45 AM

Having now had a look at the graph, I belive this 4% limit, is only relevant if your o-3 levels are low. The lower it is, the more this 4% limit matters. At the 4% of intake o-3, the 4% intake of o-6 makes little or no difference to the curve. So basically id say these studies are being misinterpreted by people. What its really saying is that, the lower your o-3 intake, the more you should limit your o-6 intake to at least under 4%

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:39 AM

Additionally, from the graph, it seems that the body preferentially stores o-3, over o-6. Which makes sense, in terms of inflammation, o-6 is the gas, o-3 is the brake...

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:38 AM

The graph starts at around 15% stored, so if your Linoleic acid is 0, your still likely to be getting omega 6 from another source (they are other forms of o-6). If your omega 3 intake is 0, then even tiny amounts of Linoleic acid will cause your stored levels to go out of wack - as little as 2%. the 4% threshold for o-6 makes little difference at all to stored HUFA fats if your intake of o-6 is 4% of caloric intake. It would also seem that there is a max level of poly fats stored, something like 8-10% of caloric intake...take home lesson for me - eat fish if you want to eat nuts.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:30 AM

Okay, so the graph measure Linoleic acid in diet (18:2 n-6) - which is a precursor, not inflammatory until its metabolised, versus the amount of relative omega-3 precursor stored in HUFA tissue and each line represents the level of omega-3 in diet. The way i read this is as follows - if your omega 3 is high, only 4% of caloric intake, your omega 6 storage will never go over 40%, even if its 8% of your caloric intake.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 15, 2010
at 12:21 PM

True, from the graph it does just seem to be getting ever close to the curve for 0% o-3; still, doubling o-6 from 4% to 8% only budges saturation about 2.5% whereas 0%-4% is about 55% and doubling from 2% to 4% about 10%. I'm guessing that all the functional differences max out at 4%. At US levels o-3 (0.1%), 75% saturation would occur at 4% o-6, 2% would give about 65% and 7% looks to be only slightly more than at 4% (77% maybe?). Tbf though, the difference between 4% and 8% calories for the average guy is around 11-22g o-6, quite a difference given how little impact it has on tissue levels.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on April 15, 2010
at 11:32 AM

OK, another one ;) In the 4th paragraph it says " the proportion of o-6 HUFA is lower than the curve above it at all o-6 intakes, but it still maxes out around 4% o-6". I don't see that it maxes out at 4% only that it rises slower after 4% but it also rises slower after 2% so how did he get "maxes at 4%" ? 5t paragraph: "horizontal line marks our average tissue HUFA composition, which is about 75% o-6. We get more than 7% of our calories from o-6" I check the 75% line(Y). This crosses with dietary intake at 2% and not 7% ? 7% would cross somewhere about 82% Thanks for helping me out David.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 12, 2010
at 04:40 PM

Thanks. That's on the bottom of the chart the ordinate values (the lines coming across from the y axis) are the reported levels for the respective countries (75, 50 and 22%).

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5 Answers

4
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 10, 2010
at 05:50 PM

It's from this paper and the relevant graph is shown on the link to the earlier post of Stephan's kilton linked.

The reason why 4% is the 'magic number' is shown by the graph. The more omega 6 you eat the more o-6 saturated your tissues become and this is what's important because it's from this that your body derives o-6/o-3, tending to either inflammation or anti-inflammation. If you're eating between 0-0.1% omega 3, then 4% of omega-6 is the point where your tissues can't functionally get any more omega-6 saturated and therefore your inflammatory response can't be any more heightened.

As the graph also shows, if you consume more omega 3 then it takes commensurately more omega 6 to saturate your tissue.

Remember that there would still be other reasons not to eat excess omega 6 even if you can't increase your inflammation any more, since it'll still be highly oxidisable and increase the bad form of (bad) LDL cholesterol. Nevertheless, this explains why studies often show benefits from adding extra omega 6: since everybody is already getting as much pro-inflammatory effect as they can from tissue o-6 and so extra veg oil may well help by displacing carbohydrate.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on April 15, 2010
at 11:32 AM

OK, another one ;) In the 4th paragraph it says " the proportion of o-6 HUFA is lower than the curve above it at all o-6 intakes, but it still maxes out around 4% o-6". I don't see that it maxes out at 4% only that it rises slower after 4% but it also rises slower after 2% so how did he get "maxes at 4%" ? 5t paragraph: "horizontal line marks our average tissue HUFA composition, which is about 75% o-6. We get more than 7% of our calories from o-6" I check the 75% line(Y). This crosses with dietary intake at 2% and not 7% ? 7% would cross somewhere about 82% Thanks for helping me out David.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

This is a great summary but still I don't know I can't see thos values from the chart. Y is O-6 tissue saturation, X is % of calories from O-6 but what are the straight lines that range from the Y axis ?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 12, 2010
at 04:40 PM

Thanks. That's on the bottom of the chart the ordinate values (the lines coming across from the y axis) are the reported levels for the respective countries (75, 50 and 22%).

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 15, 2010
at 12:21 PM

True, from the graph it does just seem to be getting ever close to the curve for 0% o-3; still, doubling o-6 from 4% to 8% only budges saturation about 2.5% whereas 0%-4% is about 55% and doubling from 2% to 4% about 10%. I'm guessing that all the functional differences max out at 4%. At US levels o-3 (0.1%), 75% saturation would occur at 4% o-6, 2% would give about 65% and 7% looks to be only slightly more than at 4% (77% maybe?). Tbf though, the difference between 4% and 8% calories for the average guy is around 11-22g o-6, quite a difference given how little impact it has on tissue levels.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:30 AM

Okay, so the graph measure Linoleic acid in diet (18:2 n-6) - which is a precursor, not inflammatory until its metabolised, versus the amount of relative omega-3 precursor stored in HUFA tissue and each line represents the level of omega-3 in diet. The way i read this is as follows - if your omega 3 is high, only 4% of caloric intake, your omega 6 storage will never go over 40%, even if its 8% of your caloric intake.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:38 AM

The graph starts at around 15% stored, so if your Linoleic acid is 0, your still likely to be getting omega 6 from another source (they are other forms of o-6). If your omega 3 intake is 0, then even tiny amounts of Linoleic acid will cause your stored levels to go out of wack - as little as 2%. the 4% threshold for o-6 makes little difference at all to stored HUFA fats if your intake of o-6 is 4% of caloric intake. It would also seem that there is a max level of poly fats stored, something like 8-10% of caloric intake...take home lesson for me - eat fish if you want to eat nuts.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on June 10, 2012
at 09:39 AM

Additionally, from the graph, it seems that the body preferentially stores o-3, over o-6. Which makes sense, in terms of inflammation, o-6 is the gas, o-3 is the brake...

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I'm not sure why we'd think that: it seems that o6 in tissue is still increasing at 8% in diet, so I'd imagine it would carry on increasing. Stephan's recommendation to reduce o6, but only if you can get it below 4%, seems to be because reducing it from 8%->4% on a 0% o3 diet, only reduces tissue o6 from ~82%->80% (i.e. above 4% dietary o6, tissue o6 levels off). Hence if above 4% dietary o6 the only way to reduce tissue levels is adding o3.

1
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on April 10, 2010
at 03:19 PM

Since measuring and then labeling the amount of n-6s and n-3s in our food is nearly impossible- the best we can do is follow a set of guidelines to reduce n-6s in our diet, eat less overall and try to increase known n-3 foods such as grass fed meats and eggs perhaps some fish oil (I've stopped). Stephan Guyenet is rock solid- we just can't measure.

0
C4b70ef215a8201605731940f52cf59f

on April 13, 2010
at 11:00 AM

Anyone got the formula for the graph ?

0
6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on April 10, 2010
at 11:17 AM

What are you asking exactly, and who said that?

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