How Omega-6 Benefits Our Health…

Benefits vs. Risks of Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Dr Axe |

Dr Axe

There’s an essential fatty acid that is necessary for optimal health but cannot be produced on its own by the body. I’m talking about omega-6.

Omega-6 fatty acids, like omega-3s, are essential fatty acids that can only be provided to us through food and supplements. Unlike omega-9, omega-6 is not produced in the body at all, yet omega-6 fatty acids are very important to the brain to help strengthen its much-needed function through healthy growth and development.

This polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) does even more than just keep the brain in good order, however. It also stimulates skin and hair growth, provides and maintains good bone health, helps regulate the metabolism, and helps keep the reproductive system healthy, among other benefits.

Benefits of Omega-6

1. Helps Reduce Nerve Pain

Studies show that taking gamma linolenic acid (GLA) — a type of omega-6 fatty acid — for a period of six months or more may reduce symptoms of nerve pain in people with diabetic neuropathy. People who have normal blood sugar control may find GLA more effective than those with poor blood sugar control, and GLA in primrose oil has been found to be helpful. Two trials studied GLA and its effects, demonstrating positive results on nerve pain after one year of treatment. (1)

2. Fights Inflammation

We know inflammation negatively affects our health and can exacerbate and even cause disease. In fact, most chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, are highly inflammatory. Because of this, the link between how we eat and disease is critical.

Eating healthy fats like PUFAs generally have a positive effect on health. These fats found in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can play significant role in health and disease. GLA is produced in the body from linoleic acid, which I’ve noted is an omega-6 essential fatty acid. GLA is further metabolized to DGLA, which makes it an anti-inflammatory nutrient. (2)

3. Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis

Evening primrose oil or primrose comes from the seeds of a Native American wildflower, containing 7 percent to 10 percent GLA. Preliminary evidence suggests that primrose may reduce pain, swelling and morning stiffness. While it likely takes one to six months to notice the effects, it may not go so far as to stop the progression of the disease, which means joint damage would still occur.

However, to treat rheumatoid arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation suggests that you take 540 milligrams daily of primose to 2.8 grams daily in divided doses, but check with your doctor first. (3)

4. May Help Reduce Symptoms of ADHD

A study out of Sweden focused on assessing the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in subjects with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study included a total of six months of testing with 75 children and adolescents (8–18 years old). While a majority did not respond to omega-3 and omega-6 treatment, a subgroup of READ MORE:

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