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Nutritional Supplement

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Where to Find It

Most food containing fats or oils contains at least some omega-6 fatty acids. Highest amounts of linoleic acid are found in certain vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, grapeseed, and sunflower oil, and in other foods such as nuts and seeds. Arachidonic acid is found in small amounts in meat, fish (especially farmed tilapia), milk products, and egg yolk. Gamma-linolenic acid is not found in foods but is high in supplements such as borage oil, evening primrose oil, and black currant seed oil.

How to Use It

The Adequate Intake of linoleic acid recommended for adults by the Institute of Medicine is 11 to 17 grams per day depending on age and gender, which is equivalent to 5 to 6% of total daily calories.4 Other authorities recommend up to 10% of total daily calories be consumed as omega-6 fatty acids, primarily for the purpose of preventing cardiovascular disease.5,6

Arachidonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid found in animal fats that the body uses to make inflammatory substances. In a controlled study,7 people with rheumatoid arthritis were instructed to reduce their arachidonic acid intake to less than 90 mg per day by eating minimal amounts of meat, no egg yolks, and only low-fat milk products. Compared with a group following a typical Western diet, the low arachidonic acid diet led to a 14% reduction in the number of tender and swollen joints. A second part of this study also found that the anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil were significantly better when combined with the low arachidonic acid diet.

References

1. Jones PJ, Kubow K. Lipids, sterols, and their metabolites. In Shils ME, Shike, M, Ross AC, et al, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 10th edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005:110-114.

2. Harris WS, Mozaffarian D, Rimm E, et al. Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: a science advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Circulation 2009;119:902-7 [review].

3. Gordon DJ. Lowering cholesterol and total mortality. In: Rifkin BM, ed. Lowering cholesterol in high-risk individuals and populations. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, Inc; 1995:33- 48.

4. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005:464.

5. Dietary guidelines for Americans: The report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. Department of Health and Human Services [cited 2010 Feb 16]. Available from URL: www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/default.htm.

6. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Third Report of the Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) [cited 2010 Feb 16]. Available from URL: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/cholesterol/index.htm.

7. Adam O, Beringer C, Kless T, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of a low arachidonic acid diet and fish oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatol Int 2003;23:27-36.

8. Calder PC. Dietary modification of inflammation with lipids. Proc Nutr Soc 2002;61:345-58 [review].

9. Praticò D, Dogné JM. Vascular biology of eicosanoids and atherogenesis. Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther 2009;7:1079-89 [review].

10. Adam O, Beringer C, Kless T, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of a low arachidonic acid diet and fish oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatol Int 2003;23:27-36.

11. Harris WS, Mozaffarian D, Rimm E, et al. Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: a science advisory from the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Circulation 2009;119:902-7 [review].

12. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2008;233:674-88 [review].

13. Hamazaki T, Okuyama H. The Japan Society for Lipid Nutrition recommends to reduce the intake of linoleic acid: a review and critique of the scientific evidence. World Rev Nutr Diet 2003;92:109-32 [review].

14. Plourde M, Cunnane SC. Extremely limited synthesis of long chain polyunsaturates in adults: implications for their dietary essentiality and use as supplements. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2007;32:619-34 [review].

15. Kapoor R, Huang YS. Gamma linolenic acid: an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. Curr Pharm Biotechnol 2006;7:531-4 [review].

16. Harbige LS. Fatty acids, the immune response, and autoimmunity: a question of n-6 essentiality and the balance between n-6 and n-3. Lipids 2003;38:323-41 [review].

17. Pischon T, Hankinson SE, Hotamisligil GS, et al. Habitual dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in relation to inflammatory markers among US men and women. Circulation 2003;108:155-60.

18. Ferrucci L, Cherubini A, Bandinelli S, et al. Relationship of plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids to circulating inflammatory markers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006;91:439-46.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.