Dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete in producing tissue compositions and tissue responses

Mil Med. 2014 Nov;179(11 Suppl):76-81. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00149.


Serious food-related health disorders may be prevented by recognizing the molecular processes that connect the dietary intake of vitamin-like fatty acids to tissue accumulation of precursors of potent hormone-like compounds that cause harmful tissue responses. Conversion of dietary 18-carbon omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to tissue 20- and 22-carbon highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) is catalyzed by promiscuous enzymes that allow different types of fatty acid to compete among each other for accumulation in tissue HUFA. As a result, food choices strongly influence the types of accumulated tissue HUFA. However, the conversion of tissue HUFA to active hormones and their receptor-mediated actions occurs with discriminating enzymes and receptors that give more intense responses for the omega-6 and omega-3 hormones. Undesired chronic health disorders, which are made worse by excessive omega-6 hormone actions, can be prevented by eating more omega-3 fats, less omega-6 fats, and fewer calories per meal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Hormones
  • Receptors, Cell Surface