Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). Along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids belong to the essential fatty acids group. Essential fatty acids are those fats essential for our health, but the human body could not synthesize them. Our body gets the essential fatty acids from foods.
Studies have shown that omega-6 fatty acids are extremely beneficial for our health. The omega-6 fatty acid that we obtain from vegetable oil is called linoleic acid. In the body, linoleic acid is converted into gamma-linolenic acid. Gamma-linolenic acid could also be obtained directly from certain plant oils such as borage oil, primrose oil and black currant seed oil. Some forms of gamma-linolenic acids break down into arachidonic acid, which could increase the risk of inflammation.
However, gamma-linolenic acids that are not converted into arachidonic acid are beneficial for the body. To reduce any adverse effect of omega-6 fatty acids, it is advisable to balance your diet with omega-3 fatty acids. In a healthy diet, the amount of omega-6 fatty acid in a meal should not be more than two to four times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Recommended intake of omega-6 fatty acids
It is recommended that adult men would require 17 grams of linoleic acid per day and 12 grams of linoleic acid per day is adequate for adult women. You should try to get about 5 to 10 percent of your regular calorie requirement from omega-6 fatty acids.
Reduces heart diseases
Studies have shown that gamma-linolenic fatty acids could protect your heart from illnesses developing from atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. To increase the effectiveness of this essential fatty acid, you must include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. By combining gamma-linolenic fatty acids with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, the blood pressure level could be significantly reduced.
Essential fatty acids could prevent bone loss. Supplements of gamma-linolenic fatty acids and EPA could increase calcium absorption, promote calcium deposition in bones and improve bone mass.
Oils containing gamma-linolenic acid could be used for reducing joint inflammation and pain.
Prevents peripheral neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy in diabetics, characterized by numbing of feet and legs, could be prevented with omega-6 fatty acids. Evening primrose oil, a source of gamma-linolenic acid, is widely used for treating this condition.