Omega-3 / Omega-6 Imbalance

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Arachidonic Acid can be obtained directly through dietary sources (meat, dairy, eggs, etc), but the majority in our bodies is created from the consumption of linoleic acid (LA) found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower seed, safflower, soy, sesame, and cottonseed oils. And many researchers theorize that our current diet contains too large a percentage of this fatty acid in comparison to the omega-3 variety, contributing to most of the modern world's inflammatory problems (arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Crohn's disease, and rosacea amongst others).

Theoretically, decreasing the intake of pro-inflammatory linoleic acids and increasing the intake of less-inflammatory competing acids such as the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosopentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) will replace the contents of the body's lipid stores with less-inflammatory lipids, helping to reduce the inflammatory reaction (although research suggests not stopping it altogether).

However, the science supporting EPA and DHA in decreasing inflammation appears to be much stronger than the science supporting GLA. Borrowing heavily from this article:

"Much of the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) taken from the oils mentioned or as a supplement is not converted to AA, but rather to DGLA. DGLA competes with AA and prevents the negative inflammatory effects that AA would otherwise cause in the body. Having adequate amounts of certain nutrients in the body (including magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C, B3, and B6) helps to promote the conversion of GLA to DGLA rather than AA...."

But, " is important to know that many experts feel that the science supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and prevent diseases is much stronger than the information regarding use of GLA for these purposes. Two important, and most studied, omega-3 fatty acids include eicosopentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both found in fish and fish oils."

Useful links:

Stanford Edu Hopes Website: Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Disease Mechanism II: Inflammation