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In defence of omega-6 fatty acids

MagazineJanuary 1997 (Vol. 7 Issue 10)In defence of omega-6 fatty acids

The article on linoleic acid left me deeply concerned as I believe it possibly leads readers to believe there is an inherent danger in omega-6 fats

The article on linoleic acid left me deeply concerned as I believe it possibly leads readers to believe there is an inherent danger in omega-6 fats.

Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely necessary for normal growth and good health. There is extensive and excellent evidence suggesting that the omega-6 fats are more important for normal cell structure and biological function than the omega-3 variety (Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids: Pathophysiology and Roles in Clinical Medicine, Wiley-Liss, Canada, 1990). Under sponsorship from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an international team of experts concluded in 1993 that "desirable intakes of linoleic acid should provide between 4 and 10 per cent of energy" and "the ratio of linoleic to alpha linolenic acids in the diet should be between 5: 1 and 10: 1 (omega-6 to omega-3). Individuals with a ratio in excess of 10: 1 should be encouraged to consume more omega-3 rich foods, such as green, leafy vegetables, legumes, fish and other seafood.

High levels of omega-3s increase clotting time; when the British nutritionist Hugh Sinclair was on his famous fish diet his bleeding times became dangerously long. The link between omega-6 intake and cancer is also highly speculative. You also don't mention the importance of increasing the amount of antioxidant rich foods in your diet if you increase your intake of polyunsaturated fats. Jeannette Ewin, Ph D., Brighton........


Struck off for home birth

Don't pass up the sodium

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