We’ve had questions from some customers a little confused by my article in the Jan-Feb catalogue on ‘Why saturated fat is healthy for you and vegetable oils can be harmful’.
You may remember I explained how too much Omega 6 fat (mainly from seed oils and margarine) and too little Omega 3 fat (mainly from fish) causes inflammation in our body and depresses our immune system. This is a massive cause of serious health disorders and is mostly to do with the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.
The Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio
This is the total amount of Omega 6 oils in our blood compared to the Omega 3 oils. The ideal diet ratio is 4 parts Omega 6, to 1 part (or more) Omega 3 oil. This 4 to 1 ratio is difficult to achieve with our modern diet. NZ levels are claimed to be as high as 16 to 1 and American levels even higher high at 20 to 1. These figures are alarming, for when our Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio exceeds 9 to 1, our immune system begins to shut down. So 10 of our Health House staff members (along with Mike and myself) agreed to be tested to see what our ratios were.
The results were interesting, but before we look at them, some of you asked if we should avoid Omega 6. The simple answer is no – Omega 6 fat is essential for energy and for our body to use Omega 3.
Omega 6 only becomes harmful when there’s not enough Omega 3 to process it properly and keep our immune system in top order.
Too low a level of Omega 3 in the blood stream greatly increases our risk of cancer and inflammation disorders like arthritis, also cardio-vascular disease and depression.
Blood testing our staff
We located a reputable American laboratory that performs Omega 6/3 tests and ordered blood test kits for the twelve of us. These tests were rather expensive at around $200 a person. A medical professional took four blood samples from each one of us and we sent the kits off to the laboratory.
We were keen to see the results when they finally arrived – our office staff are all reasonably health conscious but not fanatics like me.
As you can see from the results, none of us were anywhere near the commonly reported dangerous 16 to 1 ratio, but we weren’t as good as I’d hoped.
I was the only one within the healthy 4 to 1 ratio (3.6 to 1). I take two fish oil capsules daily (CoQ10-Omega 3 and Omega 3 Fish oil), one Evening Primrose and Flaxseed oil capsule and also eat two small cans of salmon per week. But I shouldn’t be too smug, for truly superior health, experts recommend a 2 to 1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.
Mike’s not fond of fish and generally avoids it, so he was pleasantly surprised at his reasonable result (5.7 to 1). Of our female staff, half take fish oil regularly and the other half don’t. This is listed on the chart below.
The Omega 3 index
While the ratio is important, the total level of Omega 3 in the blood is equally important. There’s not much advantage in having a good ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 if both are low. The tests also reported the Omega index which is the total percentage of all five Omega 3’s in our blood. This should ideally be above 9%. Here again I took the honours but only just, at 10.6%.
Omega 3 absorption varies from person to person
One unusual feature of our test findings, is that two of our staff who took fish oil had both low levels of Omega 3 and a poor ratio. A recent in-depth study of Omega 3 may explain this. The study tested actual blood levels of Omega 3 in people after they took 1gm of fish oil. Surprisingly, they found huge differences in the absorption rates from person to person. Eventually they concluded it was due largely to genetics.
The recommended daily net amount of Omega 3 is 1gm. This normally means taking two capsules daily of double strength fish oil.
Some of our staff, including Mike and I are working on improving our Omega 3 ratios. (I now take an extra fish oil capsule every evening.) We’ll do another test further down the track and see if it makes a difference. Perhaps somebody will topple me from my pole position. Looks like some fish for Mike.