Saturday, March 20, 2010

Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio and Chronic Inflammation

The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is one of the best predictors of your tissue status and the development of chronic inflammation. The typical American diet is 20:1 and less than 2:1 is optimal.

Health Risk Assessment (HRA) which looks at the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of the highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) contained in blood serum has found that average middle age American males have 72-82 percent of their tissue HUFA in omega-6. Japanese, on the other hand, have about 30 percent. More than 50 percent omega-6 predicts a high heart disease mortality rate.

There is an abundance of research pointing to the cardio-protective effects of omega-3, which is certainly important to diabetics, but there is very little information about how the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio predicts the progression of diabetes and diabetic complications. Based on the close correlation of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and the CRP measure of inflammation, one can assume that this measure would also correlate closely with diabetic progression.

The above chart is from the Gene Smart Omega-3 Index Test website. The company works with Dr. Floyd Chilton author of Inflammation Nation to promote home tests for Omega-3 Index and Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio which they argue are better predictors of heart disease risk than other standard tests. Two observations: (1) The above graph does not include the Triglycerides/HDL Ratio which is generally believed to be the best predictor of heart disease. (2) The Omega-3 Index correlates very closely to CRP suggesting that the amount of omega-3 in the body tissue may be a key determinant of the body’s inflammation status.

The above online test is being marketed for $150 which is still a little pricey even with the $30 discount, but other companies are also entering the market, which will hopefully bring the price down. I am not aware of any mainstream laboratories that are currently offering omega-6 to omega-3 ratio testing. Your doctor may not be aware of this testing.

Don’t expect to dramatically improve your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio overnight by chugging a bottle of fish oil. All indications are that changing the composition of your body tissue is a slow process. If you start conscientiously reducing inflammatory omega-6 in your diet and try to raise your omega-3 intake through healthy eating and supplementing with fish oil, it might be six months before you see a significant change and maybe a couple of years to achieve your optimal numbers. You are rebuilding your body one cell at a time.


  1. For those of you who read David Mendosa online, you may have seen that he wrote about the a new omega-3 test today at -- -- This new test is now available for the special introductory price of just $69.99 at LipidLabs of Austin, MN. -- -- Mendosa reproduced his report here -- -- and it is very impressive. Not only does it give an omega-3 score and reference range, but it breaks it out to all the components of omega-3 (EPA, DHA, DPA and ALA). It almost gives the important omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. I was fascinated to see it even scored the arachidonic acid to EPA ratio.

  2. The Test is now $175.00 as of 2/20/11 probably still worth it