Omega 3 / Omega 6: a question of balance

The polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-6 ( linoleic acid ) and omega 3 ( acid alpha-linolenic acid ) are essential , in other words, our body can not manufacture them.
The Omega 6 are found in certain vegetable oils (grape seed, sunflower, safflower, sesame, wheat germ), meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese.
The omega-3 are found in certain vegetable oils in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (camelina, rapeseed, flax, hemp, walnuts, wheat germ), in some fish in the form of EPA / DHA (mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon), but also in chia seeds, flax seeds, and purslane.

What are these essential fatty acids used for?

The membrane of our cells is made up of a “phospholipid double layer” made up of two fatty acids: one saturated, the other unsaturated (omega 3). The quality of this cell membrane is fundamental to ensure cell exchanges by facilitating the flexibility of the cells, and of course their nutrition. Omega 3s ensure the integrity of brain functions and their role in cognitive functioning and concentration has been demonstrated. Indeed, they allow the good transmission of nerve impulses.
During pregnancy, omega 3s play a role in the development of the fetus which cannot produce its DHA. Omega 3s also have a role on the skin and integuments.
Some studies demonstrate their favorable role in the prevention of obesity .

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the precursors of prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes, molecules whose function brings them closer to hormones. In this function, omega 6 and 3 are in competition. Depending on their origin, these eicosanoids (molecules mentioned above) will have a very different action.
Omega 6 promotes vasoconstriction, platelet aggregation and blood clotting as well as inflammatory reactions.
Omega 3s are, on the contrary, vasodilators, anti-thrombosis and anti-inflammatory agents. They protect the cardiovascular system .

It is estimated that in our Western diet, this omega 6 / omega 3 ratio is between 10/1 and 30/1… so far from physiological balance. This excess of omega 6 does not allow the body to use the little omega 3 that it receives .

Food or supplementation?

Health, for naturopaths worthy of the name, comes first and foremost by the plate. Indeed, advising omega 3 supplementation can be a one-off rebalancing tool or can be useful in certain specific cases (last trimester of pregnancy in particular), but in no case a lasting solution.

So, in concrete terms, how do you go about consuming these omega fatty acids on a daily basis?

As mentioned above, an overabundance of omega 6 leads to malabsorption of omega 3s . So we have every interest in reducing the intake of omega 6, and in particular those coming from a qualitatively poorly nutritious diet: fatty meats must be limited, just like milk-based fats, pastries and other biscuits. , pizzas, pies and industrial pastries.

Second, it is essential to bring omega 3 to your body on a daily basis.
To ensure this daily intake, a good habit would be to consume:

  • 2 tablespoons per day of a virgin oil 1 era rich in omega 3 pressure RAW and unheated (perilla, walnut, flax, camelina)
  • A small handful per day of oleaginous fruits (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
  • 2 to 3 times a week fresh or canned fatty fish (mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies)
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Purslane when it’s the season


Delphine L., naturopath

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