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What are the recommendations from NNR and WHO about the Omega-6:3 Balance?

The recommendation from Nordic Council of Ministers (Nordic nutrition recommendations 2012) says: Linoleic (n-6) and alpha linolenic (n-3) acids are essential fatty acids and should contribute at least 3 E%, including at least 0.5 E% as alpha linolenic acid. This gives a n-6/n-3 ratio of 5:1.

It is also mentioned; Intake of cis-polyunsaturated fatty acids should be 5–10 E%, of which n-3 fatty acids should provide at least 1 E%. Which means at least 2.2g omega-3 per day for an adult, and also an omega6/3 balance of less than 5:1

WHO (from 2008) do not recommend a fixed ratio anymore of 4:1

An average value of their new recommendation gives 3.3:1
WHO/FAO. 2008. Recommends that The total n-3 fatty acid intake can range between 0.5–2%E whereas the minimum dietary requirement of ALA (>0.5%E) for adults prevents deficiency symptoms. The higher value 2%E (ALA) plus n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (AMDR 0.250 g–2.0 g) can be part of a healthy diet.
  • Lower n-3: 0,5%E ALA plus (0,250g) 0,11%E EPA+DHA = 0,6%E
  • Upper n-3: 2%E ALA plus (2 g ) 0,9%E EPA + DHA = 2,9%E
  • Mean n-3 = 1,8%E
In accepting that the U-AMDR values of total PUFA and total n-3 fatty acids are 11%E and 2%E respectively, the resulting acceptable range (AMDR) for n-6 fatty acids (LA) intake is 2.5–9%E. “Arachidonic acid (AA) is not essential for a healthy adult whose habitual diet provides LA > 2.5%E.”
  • Lower n-6: = 2,5 %E
  • Upper n-6: = 9 %E
  • Mean n-6 = 5,8 %E
1. Between the lines, we can therefore deduce that the average value of what is recommended by omega-3 and omega-6 is an n-6/n-3 ratio of about 3.3:1.

Average n-6:n-3 ratio: 5,8%E / 1,8%E = 3,3:1

2. However the range is bigger in the example above, 15:1 (9/0.6) to 0.9:1 (2.5/2.9)

Zinzino (Updated )


  • The links are not working?
  • Hi Martin,

    Please refer to the updated forum.


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