OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS Overview Information
Omega-6 fatty acids are types of fats. Some types are found in vegetable oils, including corn, evening primrose seed, safflower, and soybean oils. Other types of omega-6 fatty acids are found in black currant seed, borage seed, and evening primrose oils.
Omega-6 fatty acids are used for many conditions, but so far, the best information that science can provide is that putting arachidonic acid, a particular omega-6 fatty acid, doesn't improve infant development. Not enough research has been done on omega-6 fatty acids to judge whether or not they are effective for other uses.
Omega-6 fatty acids are used for reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering total cholesterol levels, lowering "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels, raising "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels, and reducing cancer risk.
Most of the information we have on omega-6 fatty acid supplements comes from studying specific omega-6 fatty acids or plant oils containing omega-6 fatty acids. See the separate listing for evening primrose oil.
How does it work?
There isn't enough information available to know how omega-6 fatty acids work.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Improving mental development or growth in infants. Adding arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) to infant formula does not seem to improve mental development or growth in infants up to 18 months old.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). Taking omega-6 fatty acids does not seem to prevent the progression of MS.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Early research suggests that taking a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids twice daily for 3-6 months does not improve symptoms of ADHD in most children.
- Eyelid swelling due to a problem with oil glands in the eyelids. Early research suggests that taking a specific product (Medilar Fidia Oftal Bausch & Laomb Pharmaceuticals) that contains omega-6 fatty acids once daily for 180 days along with cleaning the eyelids can improve cloudiness in the eyes, blockage of the oil glands, and eyelid swelling in people with an eyelid swelling due to a problem with oil glands in the eyelid.
- Developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Early research suggests that taking a combination of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for 3 months can improve reading, spelling, and behavior, but not coordination or movement in children with DCD.
- Laser eye surgery. Early research suggests that taking a tablet that contains an omega-6 fatty acid, as well as beta-carotene and other ingredients, can improve tear production and improve eye healing after laser eye surgery.
- Reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL).
- Increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL).
- Reducing the risk of cancer.
- Other conditions.
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS Side Effects & Safety
Omega-6 fatty acids are LIKELY SAFE when consumed by adults and children over the age of 12 months as part of the diet in amounts between 5% and 10% of daily calories. However, there is not enough reliable information available to know if omega-6 fatty acids are safe to use as medicine.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Omega-6 fatty acids are LIKELY SAFE when consumed as part of the diet in amounts between 5% and 10% of daily calories. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking omega-6 fatty acid supplements if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
High triglycerides (a type of cholesterol): Omega-6 fatty acids can raise triglyceride levels. Do not use omega-6 fatty acids if your triglycerides are too high.
OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS Dosing
The appropriate dose of omega-6 fatty acids depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for omega-6 fatty acids. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.