Omega-6 is an ‘essential fatty acid’ that is included in many different ‘super foods’ and that we must all take effort to get in our diet. The reason for this is that it has so many different health benefits and that it is so vital to your overall wellbeing. These health benefits are diverse and cover aspects of your appearance and your general vitality, and as it cannot be manufactured by your body it must be obtained through other sources (hence the ‘essential’ bit).
However what’s important to remember is that you can also eat too much omega-6, and this is in fact not uncommon with your average Western diet. It is important to ensure that you get omega-6 in careful moderation and don’t assume you necessarily need to supplement.
The Benefits of Omega-6
In the correct quantities however omega-6 has many health benefits. For one it is important for maintaining strong and healthy bones around the body. A deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, as omega-6 helps the bones to absorb the calcium they need.
Omega-6 is also essential in the diet for healthy skin as it helps in the formation of strong cell membranes. It can help to relieve eczema, atopic dermatitis and other symptoms. It is most effective in the form of evening primrose oil for this purpose.
Evening primrose is also used to help treat PMS and to help relieve breast tenderness before periods. Some people also use omega-6 in order to treat allergies and this is common as a ‘home remedy’. Unfortunately there is no scientific literature to support this claim.
As mentioned, omega-6 is fairly present in most Western diets already, and there is not generally any need for further supplementation. Be wary of home remedies that recommend omega-6 fatty acid for allergies and other treatments and always consult with your doctor before taking extra food supplements.
The common sources of omega-6 found in the diet include:
- Cooking oils (plant based)
- Salami and other ‘lunch meats’
- Soy and soy-based foods
Note that omega-3 and omega-6 are different supplements. While omega-6 is normally abundant in the diet, omega-3 is less present (found mostly in fish oils) and is more generally useful as a supplement.