Omega 6: benefits, contraindications, where they are found

- omega 6 they are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids useful for the correct functionality of all tissues and for it brain development. Let's find out better.

> What are omega 6s

> What they are for

> Where are omega 6s found

> Contraindications


Flaxseed oil, rich source of omega 6

Omega 6: benefits, contraindications, where they are found



What are Omega 6?

Omega 6 (Ω-6) are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are classified into different families according to the position of the first double bond along the fatty acid chain: in the case of Omega 6 the first double bond is at the sixth carbon atom.

Omega 6, along with Omega 3, are defined as essential because they cannot be synthesized by the organism e they must be introduced with the diet. Furthermore, the metabolism of Omega 3 and Omega 6 follows distinct biochemical pathways as they cannot be transformed into each other.


What are they for 

Omega 6 are present in the body in higher concentrations than Omega 3. The mechanism of action of essential fatty acids is based on their ability to transform into Eicosanoids, biologically active substances. They have hormone-like action, but unlike hormones, they act on the tissue that produced them.

They are divided into three main classes:

  • prostaglandins (PG),
  • thromboxanes,
  • leucotrieni. 

The main Ω-6 fatty acids are llinoleic acid, from which, through some biochemical steps, γ-linolenic acid is obtained which can be converted into PG1 (prostaglandins of the series 1), with low anti-inflammatory impact, or into arachidonic acid, in turn transformed into PG2 (prostaglandins of the series 2), and leukotrienes with anti-inflammatory action. Therefore:

omega 6 → γ-linolenic acid → DGLA → PG1

omega 6 → γ-linolenic acid → DGLA → Arachidonic acid → PG2

Omega 6 are very important because, being among the components of cell membranes, they are necessary for the correct functionality of all fabrics.

Linoleic acid is essential for maintaining the skin's hydrolipidic barrier but its main metabolic effect is after conversion to eicosanoids. Omega 6s are essential both for growth and for brain development, breast milk for example is rich in it.

Therefore, γ-linolenic acid plays at least four important roles in the body:

  • modulation of the membrane structure,
  • formation of prostaglandins and leukotrienes,
  • control of permeability of the membrane (skin, gastrointestinal tract, blood brain barrier),
  • regulation of transport and synthesis of cholesterol.

Regarding the skin, γ-linolenic acid is effective in maintaining hydration and delaying skin aging. Omega 6 is also useful against rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, premenstrual syndrome and breast tension.


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Omega 6: benefits, contraindications, where they are found


Where are omega 6s found

The main Ω-6 fatty acids are linoleic acid, contained mainly in foods of plant origin, such as nuts, wheat, sunflower, soybean oil, linseed oil, borage oil, black currant oil and evening primrose oil.

The main Ω-6 is arachidonic acid which is also found in foods of animal origin like meat and egg yolk.

A lack of essential fatty acids determines the appearance of disorders such as: growth arrest, cutaneous and biochemical manifestations linked to the integrity of cell membranes. Among the causes of the deficiency there is a low intake with the diet and an excessive consumption of saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, alcohol and a lack of trace elements such as zinc and magnesium.

To avoid an Omega 6 deficiency it is necessary to take 1-2% of the total calories introduced with food. It also appears that the human body stores about 1 kg of linolenic acid as "buffer stock"In the event that this essential fatty acid should no longer be introduced with a diet (eg during low-calorie diets).



To date there are no contraindications for Omega 6, however, there are possible effects due to an overdose and it is recommended to be careful in those who are being treated with anticoagulant drugs as they could enhance their effect.

In general, the Omega 6 / Omega 3 intake ratio recommended by the LARN is 4: 1.


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> Omega 3 and omega 6 among the natural remedies against high cholesterol


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