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, in infant formula 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.
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 listings for gamma linolenic acid, as well as evening primrose, borage, and black currant.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Ineffective for
- Heart disease. Most research shows that higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids doesn't reduce the risk of heart disease or heart-related adverse events. There is some evidence that different kinds of omega-6 fatty acids might affect the heart and blood vessels differently. But this still needs to be confirmed.
- Infant development. Adding the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid along with an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to infant formula does not seem to improve brain development, vision, or growth in infants.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS). Taking omega-6 fatty acids does not seem to prevent the progression of MS.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Early research suggests that people who have more omega-6 fatty acid in their body or eat more omega-6 fatty acid in the diet might be less likely to have a decline in memory and thinking skills with age.
- 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.
- Eyelid swelling (blepharitis). People who eat a moderate amount of omega-6 fatty acids seem to have a lower risk of developing a specific form of eyelid swelling. But eating the highest amount doesn't seem to help. Taking an omega-6 fatty acid supplement might help improve symptoms such as cloudiness in people with eyelid swelling. But higher quality research is needed to confirm.
- A motor skill disorder marked by clumsiness (developmental coordination disorder or 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.
- Diabetes. People who have a higher amount of a certain omega-6 fatty acid in their body are less likely to develop diabetes than people with lower amounts. But getting more omega-6 fatty acids from supplements or the diet doesn't seem to reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Diarrhea. Early research suggests that infants fed formula supplemented with an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid and an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for the first year of life have a lower risk of diarrhea.
- Dry eye. Higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids is not linked with a reduced risk of dry eye.
- High blood pressure. Healthy people who eat more omega-6 fatty acids might have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure. But higher dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure in people with diabetes.
- Recovery from laser eye surgery (photoreactive keratectomy). Early research shows that taking omega-6 fatty acids along with beta-carotene and B vitamins might help with recovery from laser eye surgery.
- Infection of the airways. Early research suggests that infants fed formula supplemented with an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid and an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for the first year of life have a lower risk of airway infections.
- Lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL).
- Increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL).
- Reducing the risk of cancer.
- Other conditions.
Special Precautions and Warnings
A lung disease that makes it harder to breathe (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD): Omega-6 fatty acids can make breathing more difficult in people with COPD. Do not use omega-6 fatty acids if you have COPD.
Diabetes: High intakes of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure in people with diabetes. Until more is known, do not use omega-6 fatty acid supplements if you have diabetes.
High triglycerides (a type of fat): Omega-6 fatty acids can raise triglyceride levels. Do not use omega-6 fatty acids if your triglycerides are too high.
We currently have no information for OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS Interactions.
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.