What is an omega-6:3 ratio?
An omega-6:omega-3 ratio measures the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in your red blood cells. It's sometimes called an AA:EPA ratio.
What is its function?
While omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body, omega-6 fats promote it. Inflammation is an essential part of your immune response. But long-term, low-grade (chronic) inflammation can put you at risk of things like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. So it’s important to have the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats.
Ideally, this ratio should be 2:1.
What can cause it to change?
Your omega-6:3 ratio is largely affected by your your diet. If your diet is high in omega-6 fats, relative to your omega-3 intake, your ratio is likely to be high.
Most Western diets are too high in omega-6, so the ratio is around 10:1.
What are the most common symptoms?
If you don't get enough essential fatty acids it can cause rough skin and dermatitis.
What can I do to change my levels?
Your can lower your omega-6:3 ratio by decreasing your omega-6 intake and increasing your omega-3 intake.
Decrease your intake of omega-6 fats
To decrease your omega-6 levels, avoid eating a lot of processed vegetable oils — these include vegetable oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. You should also avoid processed foods that contain these.
Increase your intake of omega-3 fats
To increase your omega-3 levels, eat more foods rich in omega-3 fats. Oily fish, like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and sardines, is one of the best sources — aim to eat two portions a week. Although not as rich a source, grass-fed meat and omega-3 enriched eggs can also help to increase your levels.
There are some plant sources of omega-3, like flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds. But your body finds it harder to use this type of omega-3 (ALA). If you’re vegan, vegetarian or don’t eat a lot of fish you might need to think about taking a supplement. Don't take more than 3 grams of omega-3s per day because of a possible increased risk of bleeding. You should speak with a health professional before starting a supplement.
If you're taking blood thinning drugs, like Warfarin or Aspirin, or any medications for diabetes, only take supplements under the supervision of your doctor.