Omega 3 (Alpha-linolenic acid) and omega 6 (Linoleic acid) are two essential fatty acids, which means that they can not be synthesized in the body and must be supplied through our food. The fatty acids have different physiological functions in the body. Omega 3 reduces inflammation while omega 6 can increase inflammation in the body. The balance between them is therefore very important.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acid Test
The omega fatty acids compete for the same conversion enzyme, which means that the quantity of omega 6 (linoleic acid) in your diet directly affects the conversion of the omega 3 fatty acid (Alpha-linolenic acid), which are then converted to the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In short, it means that the more omega 6 you consume through your diet, the less of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA will be produced. In order to get the best benefits from omega 3 and omega 6 in the diet, the balance between these two fatty acids are crucial.
Omega 6 can cause inflammation in the body
Omega 6 fats can affect the formation of eicosanoids that tends to stimulate inflammatory processes in the body. Inflammation itself is a defense mechanism that is supposed to protect us against infections and damaged cells. Without inflammation, wounds and infections would not heal. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is harmful. Chronic inflammation can lead to cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, rheumatism, cancer, autoimmune diseases, mental disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and much more. Some areas where too high amounts of omega 6 levels can impact the body are:
- Coagulation of the blood
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
- Growth and repair
Omega 6 is mainly found in fatty vegetables such as grape seed oil, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, soybeans and corn oil and to some extent in poultry and meat.
Omega 3 positive effect on health
Like omega 6, omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, which means that it has fatty acids with several double bonds on the carbon atoms. What separates them is the placement of the double bond, which means that the fatty acids have different properties. Common to them is that they have a low melting point and that they are often liquid at room temperature. The difference between the polyunsaturated fats compared to saturated and monounsaturated fats is that they are often more sensitive to heat, which destroys and breaks down the fat (the fat turns rancid). When fat settles, our bodies are exposed to oxidative stress that forms harmful free radicals in our bodies. The polyunsaturated fats also differ in their positive properties and effects on health. The fact that they are essential means that they are vital and must be taken either through the diet or through preparations in the form of dietary supplements. Below are some of the positive effects of omega 3.
- Building blocks for the brain
- Isolation of nerve cells in the brain
- Antioxidant effect
- Anticoagulation effect
- Lowering blood pressure
- Strengthens the immune system and protects against infections
- Positive balance of blood lipid particles (bad and good cholesterol)
There are different forms of omega 3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in vegetables, mainly in walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and rapeseed oil. ALA can be converted to active omega 3; Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosan pentaenoic acid (EPA). How well this conversion works can differ between different people. Men, generally, have a poorer ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA can also be found in our food, especially fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Since it is difficult to know how much of ALA that can convert to DHA and EPA, the best thing is to get these fatty acids directly from the diet. EPA and DHA are extremely important for your mental performance. They also have a great impact on the development of the brain in unborn children, so it could be a good thing to check the fatty acid balance if you’re planning to get pregnant. Studies also indicate that omega-3 has a positive effect on children’s reading and writing ability. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, or if you don’t eat much fatty fish, we recommend supplementing your diet with omega 3.
The following fatty acids are tested
- 18:3 Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- 20:3 Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE)
- 20:5 Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- 22:5 Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
- 22: 6 Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Total Omega-3
- 18:2 Linoleic acid (LA)
- 18:3 Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
- 20:2 Eicosadienoic acid (EDA)
- 20:3 Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
- 20:4 Arachidonic acid (AA)
- 22:2 Docosadienoic acid)
- Total Omega-6
Ratio and Index
- Omega-6/3 ratio
- 18:3 Your omega-3 index