Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Also indexed as:Safflower Oil, Sunflower Oil, Arachidonic Acid
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.5 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.6, 7
Arachidonic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid found in animal fats that the body uses to make inflammatory substances. In a controlled study,8 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.
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.
Typical Western diets are abundant in omega-6 fatty acids, so deficiencies usually occur only in special situations, such as starvation and diseases that affect fat absorption.
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The information presented in Aisle7 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 June 2014.