The Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio: A critical appraisal and possible successor

William S. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The well-known health effects of the long-chain, marine omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids (FAs) has led to a growing interest in the prognostic value that blood levels of these FAs might have vis-à-vis cardiovascular and neurocognitive diseases. The measurement and expression of n-3 FA levels is not straight-forward, however, and a wide variety of means of expression of n-3 FA status have been used in research and clinical medicine. This has led to considerable confusion as to what “optimal” n-3 FA status is. The n-6:n-3 ratio has enjoyed relatively widespread use, but this apparently simple metric has both theoretical and practical difficulties that have contributed to misunderstandings in this field. Just as the once-popular polyunsaturated:saturated FA ratio has largely disappeared from the nutritional and medical literature, it may be time to replace the n-6:n-3 ratio with a newer metric that focuses on the primary deficiency in Western diets – the lack of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA). The Omega-3 Index (red blood cell EPA+DHA) has much to recommend it in this regard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
StatePublished - May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Biomarkers
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-3 index
  • Omega-6 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio: A critical appraisal and possible successor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this