What You Need to Know About Omega-6, and Magnesium

I’ve been away too long and I have so much to tell you but not enough time for all of the details, so I will start posting daily until I’ve brought you up to speed withe everything I’ve learned since the last post.

Two of my big learnings recently:

  1. Limiting omega-6 intake matters much more than I thought it did.
  2. Magnesium matters – a lot – and I had no idea!

The short story – we need a 1-1-1 ratio of omega 3-6-9, and if we eat a lot of plant oils, we get sick. We pretty much all have WAY too much omega 6 because of eating so much nut and seed oil (such as in whole grains, soybeans), and poultry (grain-fed, which unnaturally inflates omega 6 content of chicken and turkey), and garbanzos. This contributes to chronic health issues. You can read more about it at The Conscious Life and Chris Kresser’s site and find charts with omega 6 content of foods for quick comparison here. I have been supplementing with fish oil for awhile now, but it never occurred to me to count omega 6 intake to see if I was even coming close to balancing it out. There’s a tool on the National Institute of Health (NIH) website called KIM-2 that can be used for this purpose. Here’s an abstract of a 2002 PubMed article that explains the bare bones findings (it always gripes me that the publicly funded scientific research isn’t accessible to us regular people unless we enroll in college or pay cash for the article.)

And, 7 out of 10 of us are probably magnesium deficient, with some potentially dire consequences – a whole host of mental illnesses, skin disorders, sleep problems, cardiovascular problems, and mood and energy issues, and that’s not even everything. Read more about it here, and on the NIH fact sheet on magnesium, as well as this description of results by Mark Sircus, a massage therapist who uses magnesium gel with older clients. Transdermal magnesium seems to be a really good option since oral supplementation so often has side effects like diarrhea, and your body self regulates absorption when you put it on your skin rather than eat a pill. You can start by simply having yourself an epsom salt bath or foot soak, in warm, not hot, water for 30+ minutes. There are also magnesium oils, lotions, and sprays. I am going to test some of these out and report back later. So far, I find the soaking increases my energy levels so it’s best if I do it earlier in the day.

I’ll write more later explaining how I came by this info, but in the meantime, happy reading!

Comment below if you can add anything to the discussion above.

Stay tuned – there’s more to come!

KL – sorry no pics yet – I was stumped for a photo idea on this one!

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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2 Responses to What You Need to Know About Omega-6, and Magnesium

  1. Glen says:

    What form of magnesium do you prefer? I’ve been using magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate as the magnesium is supposed to liberate from the ions readily. I’m considering adding magnesium threonate.

    For omega 3,6, and 9 a ratio of 1:1:1 would be a goal to strive for, but we won’t get there. We might get fairly close though. Have you considered what foods someone would eat to maintain a ratio of 1:1:1 if they did achieve it?

    • Glen,
      Everything I could find on the subject suggests that magnesium chloride is the most easily absorbed. I get mine from a topical gel as well as from generic slow mag supplements. I toss in an occasional cheapo mag blend (oxide, glycinate, taurate etc.) as I can tolerate it. Sometimes I soak in good ole epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), as we may also be deficient in sulfur, as well – unless you eat enough crucifers like broccoli – for the same reason as the magnesium – soil depletion.

      With the modern diet, you are right, we can aim for 1-1-1 but probably we just get close. If you take a look at the chart you can see that it’s not really possible to short yourself on 6 and 9, so aiming for the lowest 6 and 9 foods in general can improve ratios. You can see it would look something like beef, lamb, eggs, coconut oil, macadamia oil, olive oil sparingly, tallow, butter and dairy, potatoes in moderation, plenty of squash, beans and greens (especially romaine), root vegetables, crucifers, herbs, fruit (tree-ripened only, if stone fruits), with minimal grains, nuts, and seeds. Research has documented significant gains in health from ratios of 4-1 and 3-1 omega6-omega3. It depends on your current level of health – if you have chronic, degenerative or autoimmune disease, you probably want to get below 2-1 if at all possible.

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