Omega-6 Deficiency

edited September 2020 in General Nutrition

Salutations from sunny Greece.. B)

I've come across a weird problem. Been following the Mediterranean diet for the last four months, mainly for weight loss (I'm morbidly obese). So far the results have been pretty good.

While trying to lose weight, I'm also interested in the nutritional value of my food, not only the calorie deficit. Thus, Cronometer has become an essential tool for me, helping me understand both what I eat and what my food contains.

So, I've hit up a little snag. Here is a summary of the last 4 weeks.

While most of my nutrition goals have been somewhat easy to achieve with only a Vit.D supplement (and even with a big - for me - calorie deficit) I have highlighted my Omega-6 fatty acid intake, as it shows a deficiency. The diet I am on is extremely easy to follow here in Greece (I essentially eat what....we normally eat) but our use of Olive oil in cuisine instead of vegetable oils seems to lead in not getting enough of that nutrient.

So I have two questions.

1. Is the intake deficiency that cronometer shows something that I should worry about? How important is it to have this one at 100%? Is my current intake sufficient for the time being?

2. If it is important to boost this nutrient, how can I remedy this? The most compatible with my diet food is simply eating Walnuts. About 30-35gr per day should do it, but unfortunately those come with a 200+kcal burden that I somehow have to account for. Therefore, is there another choice for me? Specifically, is there a higher Omega-6/kcal option out there, or are walnuts my best bet?

Any help or feedback would be vastly appreciated, cheers..C:

Comments

  • You actually consume more omega6 than omega3. There is a theory (not 100% mainstream) that they should be equal. Harvard rejects it though: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/no-need-to-avoid-healthy-omega-6-fats

  • In absolute terms yes, you consume more Omega-6 daily than Omega-3. But that is not saying much, the official RDIs are similarly different. 1.6gr for Omega-3 and 17gr for Omega-6 (ten times that).

    As you can see in my nutrition report, I consume far more Omega-3 daily than the RDI (240% to be exact). It is pretty easy to do so with the Mediterranean diet I follow (trying gavros for the first time hooks you up for life).

    But getting enough Omega-6 to fill the RDI is my current problem, and the reason I posted the two questions above.

  • @Dante80

    As a health professional, I find Cronometer an incredibly useful tool. That said, Cronometer can only pull data from the food we enter.

    The first thing I advise clients to do is ensure that generic products are being entered, as these are more likely to show complete nutritional data. Branded products will often only show the nutrients on the label and lead to a person believing there are deficiencies when there aren't.

    Regarding your questions on omega 6, the DRIs for this nutrient (and omega 3) are an "AI" or adequate intake. This means that we have a pretty good idea how much various population groups need, but we're not 100% sure.

    If you are consistently low in omega 6 (over weeks to months), I'd suggest adding foods high in this nutrient, such as walnuts.

    The amazing thing about nuts and seeds is that no amount of chewing will fully break down the cell wall, so we actually absorb fewer calories than what the label says. Plus, studies on people regularly consuming nuts and seeds show that these foods aren't correlated with high weight (in fact, they are correlated with weight loss).

    Lastly, while the ratio may matter, I'd say that it's more important to hit absolute targets. (For your reference, I included a Cronometer blog on the topic -https://cronometer.com/blog/understanding-cronometers-nutrient-ratios/)

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • edited September 2020

    Many thanks for the prompt answer Susan. Walnuts it is then! (I was already eating them anyway)

    You are absolutely right about the need to use generic products when using this tool. My data quality nutrition score tends to hover around 95% because of it (I simply don't use brand products). And Cronometer gives me another powerful option, that of editing+copying a generic product to change the nutrients to match a brand name one.

    For example, I use a specific brand of low fat goat milk in my diet. The company lists about 24 micro-nutrients for it. I could make a new food entry for it, but then it would only list said 24 nutrients. Instead, I go and take the NCCDB entry for low far goat milk that has 77, change the 20 nutrients that are in my brand milk, and then save the entry as a new food. The result comes I think A LOT closer to what I am actually consuming in the end.

    Now, back to Omega-6. After posting this thread, I did some more research and found out this. Take a look if you can.

    Long story short, here in Europe it seems that the AIs are smaller, and the current recommendation hovers around 10gr per day for n-6 PUFA LA. If the science is correct, it would be possible - for me - to stay inside my calorie deficit budget without having to squeeze in more calories (I'd need about 200 more to cover the current deficiency with Walnuts).

    Given your expertise and experience, would you advise me to seek out the higher (17gr) US FNB AI for this, or would adopting the EU one (10gr) suffice for me, given my nutrition report above?

    Any feedback would be vastly appreciated, cheers..oh and many thanks for linking that Cronometer blog post, I needed that! <3

  • There is a theory (not 100% mainstream) that they should be equal.

    This is the paper that proposed this theory, by the way: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12442909/

    It has ~4000 citations. At least some support it, seeing statistical connections between the ratio and various diseases.

  • @Dante80

    As a dietitian, it's fascinating to me when countries (or continents) don't agree on the requirement for a certain nutrient (as they should be looking at the same studies).

    When this is the case, I'm usually content when a nutrient falls between the two recommendations.

    When it comes to omega 3 and 6, recommendations are an AI (adequate intake) vs. RDA (recommended dietary allowance); essentially this means that we aren't certain how much of these nutrients humans need and are taking an educated "guesstimate".

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    cronometer.com
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:
    https://forums.cronometer.com/discussion/27/governing-terms-and-disclaimer

  • @Susan_RD_101 @maxb Many thanks for the insight! :)

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