Omega-6 fatty acids are one of two groups of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are required in human nutrition. (The other is the omega-3 fatty acid group.) Omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic and its derivatives.
Essential means that these fatty acids must be consumed in the diet because humans cannot manufacture them from other dietary fats or nutrients, nor can they be stored in the body. They must be consumed daily to meet the body’s requirements. EFAs provide energy and are also components of nerve cells, cellular membranes, and are converted to hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins.
In the body, prostaglandins and EFAs are therapeutic and are necessary for normal physiology. Clinical trials have shown that EFAs protect against such conditions as heart disease; cancer; autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis; skin diseases, including acne, atopic eczema, and psoriasis; and may protect against stroke.