Omega-6 Fatty Acids

What other names is Omega-6 Fatty Acids known by?

Acides Gras Essentiels N-6, Acides Gras Oméga-6, Acides Gras Omégas 6, Acides Gras Polyinsaturés, Acidos Grasos Omega 6, AGE, AGPI, Huiles d'Oméga 6, N-6, N-6 EFAs, N-6 Essential Fatty Acids, Omega 6, Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Omega 6 Oils, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, PUFAs.

What is Omega-6 Fatty Acids?

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.

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.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • 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.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of omega-6 fatty acids for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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