Omega 3 6 9 Benefits
Written by Ben Carlisle
Last updated on: Sep 18, 2022
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Omega 3 6 9 is a supplement which consists of the polyunsatuarated and monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Getting enough of these fatty acids and in the correct ratio can provide health benefits as they play an important role in the proper functioning of the body.
The Benefits of Omega 3 6 9
Omega 3 6 9 supplementation brings several health benefits including improved heart, brain, eye, and mental health. Omega 3 6 9 can also fight inflammation, decrease liver fat, assist with nerve pain, eczema and various heart conditions. Omega 3 and 6 are classified as essential fatty acids. Whereas omega 9 is classified as a non-essential fatty acid.
What Are Essential Fatty Acids?
The fatty acids which the body cannot produce itself are considered essential. These fatty acids are linoleic acid (LA) which is in the omega-6 group. And alpha linoleic acid (ALA) which is in the omega-3 group. Deficiencies of LA and ALA are common amongst individuals following Western diets. Additionally, individuals following a Western diet often consume too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3s.
Some of these deficiencies are a consequence of how the human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established. Research has found various chronic diseases can be avoided by reducing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. For those following a Western diet this means taking less omega-6 and more omega-3 (this is why omega-3s such as fish oil supplements are widely used in the Western world). For optimal outcomes, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio should be between 5:1 and 2:1. The typical Western diet consists of an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of between 15:1 to 16.7:1, this high proportion of omega-6 is mainly down to the large use of vegetable oils (1).
Additional studies have found the intake of the fatty acids considered essential, either in isolation or in conjunction with other fats and compounds, will have various health benefits. This includes helping to treat certain diseases, improving body composition and physical performance (2).
What Are The Benefits Of Omega-3s?
The omega-3 component of an omega 3, 6, 9 supplement is derived from fish or flaxseed oil. Sometimes both flaxseed and fish oil are used. The 3 main fatty acids in omega-3 are alpha linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. These are polyunsaturated fats, this means they are simple fat molecules which have one or more unsaturated carbon bonds in the molecule. This is often referred to as a double bond. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are often referred to as healthy fats. The benefits of taking omega 3s are as follows:
Improved Heart Health
Research has found omega-3 fatty acids can significantly reduce the risk of fatal heart conditions like cardiac arrhythmia. It has also been found to reduce, all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease. Additionally, high doses assist in reducing both hyperlipidemia and hypertension (3). The research goes on to recommend 1 gram (0.03oz) of eicosapentaenoic acid plus docosahexaenoic acid per day for cardio protection. And to lower high triglyceride levels an omega-3 dosage of 2-4 g (0.07-0.14 oz) is advised.
The benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats for heart health are further supported by "The American Heart Association". They state regularly eating fish and seafood is associated with lower risk for cardiovascular disease. And recommend individuals with no history of coronary heart diseases to have two servings of fish per week. For individuals with known coronary heart disease at least one serving of fish per day is recommended (4).
Further research has found fish oil significantly reduces fasting blood triglycerides. This helps heart health as high triglycerides are known to contribute to the risk of heart disease. And in the case of very high triglyceride levels serious medical conditions such as pancreatitis can be caused. However, the research found fish oil it did not lower high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in hyperlipidemic subjects (5).
In individuals with isolated systolic hypertension, daily doses of the omega-3 fatty acids; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have shown clinically meaningful blood pressure reductions. These doses were as low as 0.7 g. Although further research is needed to confirm this relationship it shows promising signs of omega 3s reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in those with isolated systolic hypertension (6).
Another study found an inverse relationship between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Supplementation led to improved endothelial function. This was measured by a 2.3% increase in flow-mediated dilation among patients on a dose of 0.45-4.5 g (0.015-0.15 oz) per day for 56 days. The study concluded supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids significantly improves the endothelial function without affecting endothelium-independent dilation (7).
Enhances Brain Health
DHA is quantitatively the most important omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain. Research has consistently shown this fatty acid to be unique and indispensable in maintaining the neuronal membrane (8). Deficits in EPA and DHA have been linked to various neurological disorders. These have been identified with varying consistency across studies, and may require a more detailed appreciation of the role of genetic variability before a clear picture arises. Although the research is promising therapeutically, more detailed research is needed into the effect of these fatty acids. However, of the evidence available the greatest benefit appears to be DHA supplementation in non-cognitively impaired older people (8).
Research into the individual effects of EPA and DHA consumption concluded EPA-rich supplementation led to better cognitive performance, while DHA is comparatively less effective. The research found participants' who took EPA-rich supplementation brains worked 'less hard' and achieved a better cognitive performance than prior to supplementation (9).
Treats Dry Eye Syndrome And Slows The Progression Of Vision Loss
Omega-3 fatty acids can enhance eye health. They are often recommended as a treatment for dry eye disease by optometrists (10). The reason for this is due to research linking omega-3 supplementation slowing the progression of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and reversing the signs of dry eye syndrome (11).
Helps Improve Mental Health
Omega-3s have been found to assist with some aspects of mental health including anxiety and depression. One study found; a single dose of eicosapentaenoic acid; 1 gram (0.03 oz) daily in a concentration greater than 60% had overall beneficial effects on the symptoms of depression (12).
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are key components of brain tissue. They play a critical role in brain development and function. A lack of these fatty acids have been implicated in several mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia. A 12-week research study of young people with sub-threshold psychotic states found intervention with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorder. A study over a longer time period found omega-3 fatty acids reduced both the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and psychiatric morbidity. Additionally, the majority of the individuals who supplemented with omega-3 did not show severe functional impairment and no longer experienced attenuated psychotic symptoms at follow-up (13).
Another study found patients taking fish oil, with or without an anti-depressant, presented improvements in depressive symptoms. The researchers went on to recommended omega-3 be taken as a supplement with an antidepressant effect or as adjuvant therapy with some other medication (14).
Omega 3-supplementation has also been found to help with anxiety. Research has found individuals taking 2.5 grams per day of omega-3 benefited from a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms (15).
Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids to decrease omega-6 to omega-3 ratios has been found to cause reductions in inflammation markers. These markers were stimulated IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production and serum TNF-α. The data from this research suggests the simple dietary intervention of increasing omega 3s could provide important benefits. The reason for this is inflammation is a prominent feature in the major age-associated sources of death and disability (15).
Omega 3s have also been found to be a helpful supplement for individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. By supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids in the form of dietary fish oil for 3 months a significant reduction in the number of tender joints and the duration of morning stiffness was reported (16).
Other research has found the anti-inflammatory actions of marine omega 3s have a therapeutic effect on those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. And may have a protective action towards atherosclerosis, plaque rupture and cardiovascular mortality. The way in which omega 3s can have this effect is from resolvins derived from the fatty acids EPA and DHA. These resolvins are anti-inflammatory and inflammation resolving.
By taking omega 3s the cells see an increase of omega 3 and a decrease of omega-6 fatty acids especially arachidonic acid. Increased membrane content of the omega 3s EPA and DHA results in a changed pattern of production of eicosanoids and probably resolvins. By changing the fatty acid composition of inflammatory cells, the production of peptide mediators of inflammation are decreased. This means fatty acid composition of human inflammatory cells are influenced by their function, which allows changes in composition to affect inflammatory processes (17).
A further study also found the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with lower inflammatory biomarkers among diabetic and cardiovascular patients (18).
Decreasing Liver Fat
The supplementation of omega 3s might also have a beneficial effect in reducing liver fat. However, the optimal dosage is still yet to be determined (19). Research has also found dietary DHA was superior to EPA at reducing Western diet-induced changes in plasma lipids, hepatic injury and at reversing Western diet effects on hepatic metabolism, oxidative stress, and fibrosis (28).
What Are The Benefits of Omega-6s?
While the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids are important, those following Western diets often consume too much. The reason for this is the wide use of refined vegetable oils, which are frequently used in processed and fast foods. The Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 17g (0.59oz) for males and 12g (0.42oz) for females (20). However, this is not to say omega-6 is not beneficial if obtained from the right sources.
May Help With Overall Skin Health
Omega-6 fatty acids have a number of positive effects on skin health. Research found omega-6 supplementation over a 12 week period resulted in significantly improved skin moisture, transepidermal water loss, elasticity, firmness, fatigue resistance, and roughness. Some of the improvements were in in excess of 15% (21).
This supports the notion the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) is a conditionally essential fatty acid for the skin. This suggests the body is unable to synthesise GLA and depends on preformed GLA for optimal skin structure and function (21).
These findings are supported further by research finding omega-6 and omega-3s play a critical role in the normal function and appearance of the skin. Potent signalling molecules, called eicosanoids, which influence the inflammatory response in skin are derived from both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Eicosanoids mediate inflammatory events developed in response to environmental factors, such as exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and inflammatory and allergic disorders, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Both topical and oral supplementation of these fatty acids are effective ways of delivering these benefits to the skin. This research also suggests omega 6 appears to play an important role in structural integrity and barrier function of the skin (22).
May Help With Nerve Pain
Another benefit of omega-6 was found in study in to peripheral nerve function. Low plasma omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids levels were associated with accelerated decline of peripheral nerve function with ageing. The researchers suggest patients affected by peripheral neuropathy may benefit from sunflower oil supplementation which is rich in omega-6 fatty acids along with the omega 3 DHA. The reason for this is it may positively influence the axonal degeneration of the nerve. However, more research is needed to confirm the validity of these suggestions (23). Additionally, the research goes on to state low omega-6 fatty acids and DHA levels may be considered a potential cause of peripheral nerve dysfunction in older persons, especially when no other plausible cause can be clearly identified.
May Assist With Improving Eczema
Patients with atopic dermatitis took supplementation with "Evening Primrose Oil". This oil which is rich in Omega 6 was found to result in a significant increase in plasma gamma-linolenic acid and dihomo gamma-linolenic acid levels in the patients. This is interesting as it has been reported individuals who suffer from atopic dermatitis have low plasma gamma-linolenic acid and dihomo gamma-linolenic acid levels. Over a 12 week supplementation period the patients symptoms of atopic dermatitis improved which supported the idea "Evening Primrose Oil" could be used as long-term basic therapy (24).
However, there is also research indicating "Evening Primrose Oil" failed to improve eczema symptoms compared to a placebo group (25). This means more research is needed to give a conclusive answer regarding the effectiveness of "Evening Primrose Oil" for treating eczema.
What Are The Benefits of Omega 9's?
Omega-9 is a monounsaturated fatty acid. Monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond. Oleic acid is the most common omega-9 fatty acid. Oleic acid can be found in olive oil. Olive oil is the omega-9 used in most omega 3 6 9 supplements. The main benefits associated with omega 9 are as follows:
Has Anti Inflammatory Properties
Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid. High levels of this fatty acid are found in olive oil and other edible oils. Such oils are often used as a way to replace saturated fats in the diet. Research has found diets rich in oleic acid (a mono-unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid) have beneficial effects when treating inflammatory-related diseases. The reason for this is oleic acid was found to aid the activation of different pathways of immune-competent cells (26).
Benefits Cardiovascular Health
Like omega-3s, Omega-9s can provide cardiovascular benefits. One study found that oleate (an unsaturated omega-9) improves endothelial dysfunction in response to pro-inflammatory signals and protects against cardiovascular insulin resistance (27).
Oleate is also found to reduce proliferation and apoptosis in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). This could play a role in ameliorating the atherosclerotic process and plaque stability (27). The programmed cell death of VSMCs plays an important role in various human vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, arterial injury, and restenosis after angioplasty (27). Omega-9 is a fatty acid which provides a number of health benefits. Oleic acid is one of the best ways to get omega-9 in to the diet and this can do through supplementation or the use of an oil such as olive oil.
Omega 3 6 9 Supplements Can Provide A Number Of Health Benefits
The fatty acids, omega 3, 6, and 9, have many proven health benefits. They may also have additional benefits which need further research to be scientifically proven. Omega 3s can benefit heart, brain, eye, skin, and mental health. Omega-6 fatty acids help with overall skin health, nerve pain, and eczema. While omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and can provide benefits to cardiovascular health.
The use omega 3 6 9 fatty acids should be used to complement a healthy diet, therefore it is important you aim to keep your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio within the recommended range of 5:1 to 2:1. And you are not consuming to many saturated fats, this can easily be remedied by switching vegetable oils for omega-9 oils rich in oleic acid. If you have any health issues or are not sure about omega 3 6 9 supplementation. It is recommended you consult with a medical professional.