A commonly asked question in Google “Is too much omega-6 bad for you?” Well, omega-6 is the other essential fat in addition to omega-3 which shows that we need it…but, yes, too much omega-6 can cause some issues!
With the rise in popularity of people using oil sprays, extra lean meats, or generally following a low fat or very low fat diet, you may actually be really limiting your omega-6 intake. This can also cause issues as we rely on getting omega-6 from the diet – the same as omega-3.
From a hierarchy perspective, omega-3 is top trump, followed by omega-6, then omega-9. However, omega-6 wouldn’t be an essential fat if we didn’t need it despite some of the negative limelight it gets.
So, what is omega-6 good for?
Omega 6 is actually really beneficial for mental health. In terms of training, this is really important for us if we are ever going to increase that motivation and move from the sofa to a sports club, gym or the local park.
Does it cause inflammation?
It’s quite well known that omega 6 is associated with an increase in inflammation, which can cause health problems…HOWEVER, this isn’t due to omega 6 itself, but rather the excess to which we consume it! Meat and dairy are loaded with omega 6, and despite a meaty steak being the choice of many on a weekend to maintain those gains, it is the other rich sources of omega-6 we should be leaning towards! To prevent this inflammation we should be making the effort to get our omegas back into a balance. The best way to do this is to cut down on processed foods, red meat, dairy and fast foods.
What is the best way I can get my omega-6?
Some of the best sources of omega-6 are actually:
- Evening primrose oil
- Sunflower oil
- Borage oil (starflower oil)
- Sesame oil
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Am I someone who needs to focus on getting omega-6?
For those of you who may well use oil sprays or regularly attempt to limit your fat intake, then you should focus a little more on which fat sources you eat. It’s absolutely fine to follow a low fat diet, as this is one of the most successful ways to lose weight (as long as you’re in a calories deficit), but choosing where to get your calories from fat from is the best way to ensure you get your omega fats!
Therefore, adding a sprinkling of seeds on your porridge or seed oils on your salads should see you getting enough of the omega-6 you need.
Do I need a supplement?
For the majority of people in the population – no. However, if you really don’t want to increase your fat intake, or are on a very calorie restricted diet, then a supplement would be a good way to go! Supplement wise, look out for those containing borage or evening primrose oils as these are very rich sources of omega 6.
A final note…
It’s important to remember that not all fat is bad, especially our omega 3 and 6 which we can only get through diet or supplements! There are other types of fats which we should be very cautious of but the omega fats should be viewed more positively as their role (in the correct balance) is important for good health!
Innes, J. K., & Calder, P. C. (2018). Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation. PLEFA, 132, 41-48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2018.03.004
Kien et al. (2013). Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 689-697. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.051730051730
Makris, A., & Foster, G. D. (2012). Dietary approaches to the treatment of obesity. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 34(4), 813-827. doi:10.1016/j.psc.2011.08.004
Weil, A. (2007). Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6? Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/balancing-omega-3-and-omega-6/