Omega 6 - is there a maximum? (absolute value, not ratio)


#1

I’m well aware of the discussion on omega 3/6 ratios, but I’m wondering if there are any absolute maximums to the omega 6 intake. I’ve heard that there are (I’ve seen people suggest that 6 grams per day of omega 6 should be considered the max).

I ask, because I’m using a DIY recipe that is fairly high in fat, and has 7 grams of Omega 6 in it. It also has 14 grams of Omega 3, so the ratio of 6 to 3 is great (1:2). But I’m wondering if there’s a point where the Omega 6 is too high, regardless of its ratio with 3.


#2

Well the U.S. government DRI, male 19-50, 2000 calories has a target of 17g for omega 6. I don’t agree that you want that much, but probably means you won’t have to much at 7.


#3

Do you have some typos, here? The numbers and the ratio seem off, to me.

Omega 6 is usually higher, and the ratio is usually Omega 6 to Omega 3.

The net effect is that I’m not sure which one you’re asking about.

For what it’s worth, I don’t typically see any maxes listed for Omega 6.
Typical recommendation is to raise Omega 3, but to be careful about things like prolonged bleeding if the level gets to high.

The typical ratio 6:3 is high (15:1 or so), but research is showing much lower ratios to have health benefits.



#4

Yep, sorry - reversed the ratio above (fixed now)
Omega 3: 14 grams
Omega 6: 7 grams

So the ratio of “O3 to O6” is 2:1
If I should be expressing it as “O6 to O3”, then it’s 1:2
In other words, twice as much Omega 3 as Omega 6.


#5

@r_soylent You do realize that 14g of omega 3 is potentially dangerous. It will lower the viscosity of your blood and could result in unusual bleeding. I hope your being monitored by a doctor.


#6

I did not know that. Can you cite your source? I’m not challenging that you’re correct, I’d just like to know the origin of that data.

That seems paradoxical to some degree though. If you’re targeting a 1:1 ratio of 3:6, which there’s a lot of reason to think is healthy (look at the ratios the Inuit consume), then even at the 14g figure, that would be only 28g from 3 and 6 combined.

If you’re looking for roughly 70 grams of fat in your diet, that implies 42g from monounsaturated and saturated fat? That seems excessive as is.

But, if there is good cause for limiting my omega 3, I’m of course interested in hearing it.


#7

I can’t remember where I heard this, so take this with a grain of salt, but I remember reading that the “optimal” ratio of saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated is 1:2:1, so that would mean 17.5 g saturated, 35 grams monounsaturated and 17.5 polyunsaturated, meaning with a 1:1 ratio you would get at most 9 grams of each Omega 3 and Omega 6


#8

If you could try to get a source in that, that’d be awesome…


#9

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/66/4/988S.full.pdf

the basis is serum cholesterol, so I’m not positive that relates perfectly to optimum nutrition, but its a start. It claims saturated fats should be about 7-8% of your caloric intake, polyunsaturated no more than 7%, and total fats should be no more than 30% of caloric intake, leaving 15-16% for monunsaturated fats, so roughly a 1:2:1 ratio. Does caloric intake directly correlate to grams of fat, such that a 1:2:1 ratio with regards to percentage of total energy can be put into practice as a 1:2:1 ratio by mass?


#10

Source with everything you want to know:


Potential for excessive bleeding:

Potential for excessive bleeding: The potential for high omega-3 fatty acid intakes, especially EPA and DHA, to prolong bleeding times has been well studied and may play a role in the cardioprotective effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Although excessively long bleeding times and increased incidence of hemorrhagic stroke have been observed in Greenland Eskimos with very high intakes of EPA + DHA (6.5 g/day), it is not known whether high intakes of EPA and DHA are the only factor responsible for these observations (1). The US FDA has ruled that intakes up to 3 g/day of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for inclusion in the diet, and available evidence suggests that intakes less than 3 g/day are unlikely to result in clinically significant bleeding (97). Although the Institute of Medicine did not establish a tolerable upper intake level (UL) for omega-3 fatty acids, caution was advised with the use of supplemental EPA and DHA, especially in those who are at increased risk of excessive bleeding (see Drug interactions and Nutrient interactions below) (1).

The whole Linus Pauling Institute page on EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids) is well worth reading - there is a LOT of info there. (It’s the link above).


#11

I was going to site my sources but it looks like @MentalNomad beat me to it.

I can testify first hand to the unusual bleeding. Until very recently I was taking in the neighborhood of 11g of omega-3s every day. On September 27th I went to the Red Cross to donate blood. I filled the pint in 3.5 minutes. Average donation times are between 10 and 12 minutes. While there was no prolonged bleeding of any kind it did point to the viscosity of my blood being unusually low. I have noticed that small cuts, while again not bleeding excessively, did seem to take longer to clot and the clots didn’t stick to the wound very well. I can only imagine what a serious cut would do. I have since lowered my omega-3 intake to about 2.2g per day and will be donating again as soon as the Red Cross will let me to see if my donation times are closer to the norm.


#12

That means of 2,000 calories, 600 would be total fats. 600 calories is 66 grams of fat. At a 1:2:1 ratio, that means roughly 16 : 33 : 16 grams of saturated : mono : poly.

At 1 : 1 of omega 3 : 6, that implies 8 grams of omega 3, which I gather some people are saying is too much.

So are my calculations wrong somehow?


#13

Your calculations are right… The 1:1 is wrong. Just because our ancient ancestors may or may not of had that ratio of omega fats doesn’t mean that it was optimal or particularly healthy. People are too hung up on what our ancestors ate. They took whatever nature offered and where happy to get it. Just because nature offered it doesn’t mean it was optimal or healthy for any organism much less early humans. On the flip side of that just because the USDA says that 3g of omega-3 is GRAS doesn’t mean its necessarily the max safe dose. They are nutritious for being conservative in their recommendations.


#14

sort of going with horsfield here, it appears as if a 1:1 could be healthy only if a person is only getting somewhere around 4-10 g of PUFA a day, but it would appear that that is neither practical nor healthy, when analyzed from the view of balancing the 3 kinds of (healthy) fats. Even if you were to use a ratio of 1:3 omega 3:6 ratio, you would still be considerably better off than the standard American diet, which often gets closer to 25:1 or even 50:1. that would yield 4g omega 3 and 12 grams omega 6


#15

There is also a number of assumptions being made here that are possibly invalid.

We are assuming that:

  1. our ancient ancestors actually got the 1:1 omega 3:6 ratio.
  2. they got the 1:2:1 saturated:monounsaturated: polyunsaturated ratio.
  3. that either of these ratios are optimal and healthy in either an ancient or modern diet
  4. they got 2000 calories a day and that 30% of those calories where from fat
  5. 3g of omega-3 is the max safe dose

Even if we do make all those assumptions 8g of omega-3 is still theoretically safer than the 14g @r_soylent reports taking or the 11g I was taking till recently.


#16

Very interesting discussion.

So our ideal parameters would be:

  • 30% or less of daily calories from all fats
  • 1:2:1 ratio of fat types
  • 3 (or less) to 1 ratio of O6 to O3
  • X grams or less of O3 (still shaky on whether this should be 3 or slightly higher)

#17

My ideal parameters are

  • 20-35% of daily calories from all fats
  • <10% from saturated fats
  • 0% from trans fat
  • 1:2:1 ratio of all fat types
  • 4 (or less) to 1 of O6 to O3
  • X grams or less of O3 (still shaky on whether this should be 3 or slightly higher)
  • < 300mg cholesterol

#18

this article seems to claim that you are safe up to 5g a day. The FDA claims 3g a day of omega 3 should be your upper limit, but they also want you to take in 17g a day of omega 6 so maybe they aren’t the best resource…


#19

Just compiling a list of (hopefully more science-minded) articles that might shed some light on the subject.


http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2815.htm
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2815.htm-this article is the most thorough, and seems to back up the claim that you are safe up to about 5g a day of omega 3.


#20

So based on a 2000 calorie diet, the following is probably a better target than I’ve been using:

18 g - saturated
36 g - omega 9
13.5 g - omega 6
4.5 g - omega 3