|BACKGROUND: Human beings evolved consuming a diet that contained about equal amounts of ω-6 and ω-3 essential fatty acids. Today, in Western diets, the ratio of ω-6 to ω-3 fatty acids ranges from approximately 10:1 to 20:1 instead of the traditional range of 1:1 to 2:1.
OBSERVATION: Studies indicate that a high intake of ω-6 fatty acids shifts the physiologic state to one that is prothrombotic and proaggregatory, characterized by increases in blood viscosity, vasospasm, and vasoconstriction, and decreases in bleeding time. ω-3 fatty acids, however, have anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, antiarrhythmic, hypolipidemic, and vasodilatory properties.
RESULTS: Excessive radical formation and trauma during high-intensity exercise leads to an inflammatory state that is made worse by the increased amount of ω-6 fatty acids in Western diets, although this can be counteracted by eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
CONCLUSION: For the majority of athletes, especially those at the leisure level, general guidelines should include EPA and DHA of about 1 to 2 g/d at a ratio of EPA:DHA of 2:1.