Diet-NutritionOmega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-6 Fatty Acids

Is the omega-6/-3 ratio still important?

In her book, Queen of Fats, medical writer Susan Allport contends that for optimum health and disease prevention, the balance should be one to four times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.

Here’s a different view.
Researchers from the University of Surrey in the UK reviewed the results from the Optimal n-6/n-3 ratio in the UK Diet (OPTILIP) Study and a stable isotope tracer study.

Both studies concluded that the ratio of omega-6/-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is of no value in modifying cardiovascular disease risk.

The isotope study also showed that the absolute amounts of dietary linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) contribute to the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (both omega-3 fatty acids).

The bottom line?
Stated simply, researchers from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts advise, “The absolute mass of essential fatty acids consumed, rather than their omega-6/-3 ratio, should be the first consideration when contemplating lifelong dietary habits affecting cardiovascular benefit from their intake.”

We still need more omega-3.

4/13/08 10:07 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.