One of the key factors on a good diet is a good balance of omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. I have this question: for a middle aged man as I am, what would be the optimal amount of Omega 3 on a daily basis? If I do not have fish for several days, should I have Omega 3 supplements? Also why is it that we care so much about the Omega 3/6 ratio, while there is no interest in the Omega 3/9 or the Omega 6/9 ratio?
asked byPhilosopher (3524)
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on August 17, 2011
at 08:25 PM
The reason omega 3 and 6 and their ratio is important is because they are precursers or building blocks of eicosanoid hormones. Omega 9 is not - it is hormonally neutral.
Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (found mainly in oily fish) are building blocks of anti-inflammatory hormones, and Omega 6 pro-inflammatory hormones.
Therefore our current diet - high in omega 6 and low in omega 3 leads to an increase in inflammation.
on December 28, 2010
at 05:59 PM
I don't know too much about what an optimum level for you might be - everyone's needs will be different. If you adhere to an 80% paleo diet, you may not need to supplement omega 3 as you will be getting it from sources other than fish, but I don't think it will hurt you. If you eat a more SAD, then I would recommend supplementing omega 3's.
I don't think we worry about the 3:9 ratio because Omega 9 is not an essential fatty acid. Our body can create Omega 9 from unsaturated fat, and our bodies usually produce it when there is a deficiency of either omega 3 or 6 fatty acids. If this happens long term, your health will probably suffer.
So, if your omega 3 levels are good, omega 9 levels are probably of no concern (if I'm wrong, somebody please speak up!)
on July 25, 2013
at 03:17 AM
Look at this table
and get an idea of the variation of fat profiles for 3 wild ruminants and wild boar, all of which would probably work as a paleo staple. Also consider that back fat ( the one listed above), marrow and brains, the three largest sources of fat in a carcass, are themselves quite different from one another, the brains being almost 50% Omega 3, and the marrow having 50%+ MUFA. All nutrients, and all ratios of nutrients, have a U-shaped curve. Too high or too low is not good, but there is a broad window where differences are marginal. So even if olive oil is adding a little extra O6 (which is true), it does not matter too much. I used to make sure I would balance it with cod liver oil, but now I am a lot more casual about it.
Also notice the high amount of Omega 9 in all the animals (C 18:1). Clearly mammal bodies are fairly efficient at manufacturing it and so are we.
on July 25, 2013
at 02:43 AM
I don't think it's necessary to worry about getting a perfect balance of fats in your diet. Certainly, paleolithic people didn't think about it at all. As long as you eat a paleolithic diet you will achieve a good balance. As for how much fish to eat, only people living near the ocean would have have eaten any fish with substantial amounts of omega 3, as fresh-water fish don't tend to contain as much omega 3. Red meat is also high in omega 3 and low in omega 6, as long as it is grass-fed. If you eat plenty of red meat, and it is all grass fed, and you do not eat vegetable oils, then you are getting the right balance. As for omega 9, paleolithic people didn't eat substantial amounts of olive oil. If you are meeting your fat consumption needs by eating a lot of omega 9, then you may not be getting enough omega 3.