Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More On Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Interesting analysis by Dr. Sears.

"During the conference, his group presented more data on how excess omega-6 fatty acids double the production of endocannabinoids (the hormones that make you hungry). Furthermore, increasing the intake of omega-6 fatty acids from 1 percent of total calories (what it was in 1960 and apparently all the way back to 1900) to 8 percent of total calories (the current level in the American diet) causes massive genetic changes that result in greater obesity.
It should be noted that the American Heart Association recommends 5-10 percent of total calories should be omega-6 fats. Let’s put this into perspective. One percent of total calories represents about 20 calories or about 2 grams of omega-6 fatty acids. That’s the amount to fill about one-half teaspoon. Eight percent of the total calories (assuming a 2,000-calorie-per-day intake) represent 16 grams of omega-6 fatty acids. That’s the amount that would fill a tablespoon.
There it is. The difference between being lean and fat may be determined by a very small amount of the same fats being pushed by agribusiness and the American Heart Association. These fats are ubiquitous as they also represent the cheapest form of calories and are the foundation of American agribusiness.
The only good news from the conference is that if you take 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA per day, you can reduce the inflammatory damage done by the increase in omega-6 fatty acid consumption. So maybe our obesity epidemic started the day that mothers stopped giving their children a daily tablespoon of cod liver oil that would have contained 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA. "


  1. Most researchers in the field of omega-3 agree upon the importance of DHA for optimal function of the brain, eyes and heart. DHA is also extremely important for pregnant women since the fetus needs DHA for brain development. Consequently, proponents of fish and some algae oils claim that DHA is of utmost importance. They argue that even if ALA is converted into EPA and DHA by enzymes after ingestion, that the conversion is slow and inefficient. According to some research, only as little as 3-5% of the ALA is converted to DHA in the body. (See Conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA)

    However, this data should be measured against the fact that DHA stays alive and active in the human brain for 5 years! Even if high quantities of DHA are consumed, only some 3.8mg are assimilated daily in the brain. Thus, despite the ALA’s low conversion ratio to DHA, clary sage seeds provide more than enough DHA for the brain’s functions.

  2. Dustin, thanks for weighing in. It's a complex topic, it's helpful to me to take in the info from a variety of perspectives.

    The other issue is that is seems that an omega 3/omega 6 balance is more important than any set amount of intake of either. That is to say, aboriginal populations with very low intake of both of these fats do fine (source, Robb Wolf podcast, regrets I can't be more specific).

    IOW - if we weren't eating so much food that's really converted crude oil (crude to ammonium nitrate to factory farmed grains to cattle fed the same and the processed products these factory farmed grains/soy beans are consumed in), we wouldn't have to buff up our omega 3 intakes. That's of course why the grass fed beef, wild game or wild caught fish makes for much better food.