Evening primrose oil and omega-3s are different types of essential fatty acids. Evening primrose oil falls under the heading of omega-6 fatty acids, which, like omega-3s, are not manufactured by the body. You must get these essential acids from your diet. However, for most people the intake of omega-3s should be more than that of omega-6 fatty acids, including evening primrose oil.
There are many types of omega-3 fatty acids, but the three main types are ALA, DHA and EPA. Fish oil is a type of omega-3 supplement that is rich in DHA and EPA, though you can also find DHA in algae oil. ALA is present in many plant sources, including flax seed oil, walnuts, soybeans and leafy greens. While ALA, once taken, is transformed into DHA and EPA, the amounts are minimal and may be insignificant. It is important to get enough of all the major types of omega-3s in your diet or through supplements. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that you can safely take up to 3 g of omega-3 supplements daily.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is an omega-6 fatty acid. Not all omega-6 fatty acids are beneficial, but those found in evening primrose oil – namely GLA and LA – are. Evening primrose oil may help control symptoms of eczema, mastalgia or breast pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. Dosage guidelines vary based on condition. The UMMC recommends between 3 and 4 g of evening primrose oil daily for breast pain and arthritis, and 4 to 8 g daily for eczema and dermatitis. They do not recommend taking this amount all at once, but rather in a few smaller doses throughout the day.
When it comes to omega-3s and evening primrose oil, you must also consider the balance between the two. While MedlinePlus reports the most optimal ratio has not been determined, they do suggest increasing the omega-3s in your diet and reducing your omega-6 fatty acid intake. Although it may seem like you should opt for omega-3s over evening primrose oil, this is not necessarily the case. The particular substances in evening primrose oil actually fight inflammation, unlike most other omega-6 fatty acids. The GLA in evening primrose oil is converted into another inflammation-fighting nutrient once ingested: DGLA.
While both omega-3s and evening primrose oil have many positive health benefits, they are not appropriate for everyone. Both can increase the effects of blood thinners, which may cause you to bruise more easily than usual or bleed for longer. In addition, they can interact with certain medications, such as those that control blood sugar levels or psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. Both omega-3s and evening primrose oil are available over-the-counter; however, you should always discuss these supplements with your doctor before adding them to your daily routine.