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Altering Dietary Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratios

by 5m Editor
8 August 2011, at 11:17am

CANADA - Research conducted by the Prairie Swine Centre indicates altering the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet can impact the reproductive performance of gestating sows, Bruce Cochrane writes.

Scientists with the Prairie Swine Centre are conducting feeding trials to assess the impact changes in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet will affect the reproductive performance of the sow.

Five diets containing various ratios of omega-3, sourced from flax seed and from fish oil, to omega-6 were compared.

Dr Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie Swine Centre, says we know there are a lot of benefits from increasing the intake of omega-3 long chain fatty acids.

Dr Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre

What we are specifically looking at in this study is whether or not the ratio of the omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid, whether that is even more important than the absolute amount of increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

We always have in the diet some omega-6 and some omega-3 fatty acids so we know that by increasing the intake of one, we're not only increasing how much of that we eat but you're changing the ratio between the two.

We know that the health benefits seen from the omega-3 fatty acids are due to their conversion to other fatty acids within the body and we know that this conversions is affected by the amount of omega-6.

There's a competition between the omega-3 and the omega-6 fatty acids to convert to their active metabolites so we specifically in this one altering the ratio of these fatty acids in the diet rather than just changing the intake of one or the other.


Dr Beaulieu says lowering the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio from ten to one to five to one resulted in increased feed intake by the sow and improved piglet growth and there was more of an improvement when the omega-3 came from flaxseed.

She notes the sows did not like the taste of the fish oil diet, which reduced feed intake.