Omega 3-6-9 and Fish Oil
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Omega 3,6 and 9 are all important for our health and well-being and fish oil is the richest source of these healthy fats. These healthy fats offer a variety of benefits to the body and deficiency or disturbance in their balance lead to chronic diseases. They help improve heart health, enhance cognitive abilities, promote skin health, relieve inflammation, promote weight loss and assist in infant brain development.
This article details omega 3,6, 9, and fish oil, and their benefits supported by scientific research and possible risks or side effects.
What is Omega 3,6 and 9?
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are polyunsaturated fatty acids with more than 2 double bonds in their chemical structures. Omega 9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fatty acids with only one double bond.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are not produced by the body and we get them through diet. According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended to take 2 servings of fish per week to meet fatty acid needs.
Omega 3 fats are of three types depending on the shape and size of fatty acids.
1.Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
EPA is a 20-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acid that can synthesize chemicals called eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are chemicals having the potential to reduce inflammation and relieve depressive symptoms.
2.Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA is a 22-carbon fatty acid accounting for 8% of brain weight and helps improve brain growth, development, and function.
3.Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA)
ALA is an 18-carbon fatty acid that can be transformed into EPA and DHA. Alpha linoleic acid helps improve heart health, brain health, and the immune system.
Seafood like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, chia seeds, nuts, and flaxseeds are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acid provides a variety of benefits to the body. Studies revealed that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the body.
They may also support mental health and prevent depression, anxiety, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Research suggests that these healthy fats decrease liver fats, and reduce weight and waist circumference.
Omega-3 fats have the potential to relieve inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Omega-6 Fatty Acid
The omega-6 fatty acid is also an essential fat obtained from the diet and is associated with a wide variety of benefits. Linoleic acid is a common form of omega-6 fatty acid and is converted to arachidonic acid in the body. Arachidonic acid may produce eicosanoids which are pro-inflammatory compounds. If these compounds are produced in excess amounts, they promote inflammatory processes leading to chronic diseases.
Omega-6 fatty acids offer a variety of benefits to the body including heart and brain health, preventing skin disorders, relieving joint pain, and boosting immune health.
Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnut, cashews, soybean oil, sunflower seed, and corn oil are good sources of Omega6 fatty acids.
Omega 6 fatty acids promote skin and hair health, strengthen bones, regulate metabolism, and boost reproductive health. They may also reduce cholesterol, and triglycerides and lower the risk of heart disease.
Omega-9 Fatty Acids
Omega 9 fatty acid is monounsaturated fatty acid possessing one double bond and is a non-essential fatty acid as the body can produce it. This fatty acid is commonly found in diet and is known to improve general health and well-being.
Oleic acid is one of the most common Omega-9 fatty acids present in the diet and has many health benefits. These monounsaturated fatty acids may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
Vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds, olive oil, almond oil, peanut, cashew, walnut, and avocado oil are the best sources of omega-9 fatty acids.
A study revealed that Omega-9 fatty acid helps reduce inflammation and decrease insulin sensitivity.
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a fat-rich oil extracted from fish tissue or sometimes from the liver of fish such as cod liver oil. It is obtained from oily fish like mackerel, herring, tuna, and anchovies.
According to WHO recommendations, one should consume 1-2 portions of fish in a week. People who do not consume fish can get benefits from fish oil supplements as they are packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish oil contains about 30% of Omega-3 fats and 70% of other types of fats. It also possesses some quantities of vitamins A and D. EPA and DHA are the common types of omega-3 fats present in fish oils.
A proper balance of all these fatty acids is necessary for general health and disturbance in this balance may lead to various diseases.
Health Benefits of Fish Oil
May Improve Heart Health
Fish oil is an excellent source of healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce the risk of heart disease. It can regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and decrease triglyceride levels.
Studies revealed that fish oil may prevent atherosclerotic lesions which are the main cause of heart attacks.
Prevent Multiple Sclerosis
Studies suggest that fish oil helps people with multiple sclerosis and protects the brain and nervous system.
Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer
Research revealed that fish oil has the potential to prevent certain types of cancer including prostate cancer. However, some studies may have conflicting results showing that fish oil may increase the risk of prostate cancer. More research is needed to confirm the effects of fish oil on prostate cancer.
Help Relieve Postpartum Depression
Reduced omega-3 levels in pregnancy and breastfeeding lead to postpartum depression. A 2018 study showed that the consumption of fish oil supplements is associated with a reduced risk of depression.
May Improve Memory and Cognitive Health
Studies showed that EPA and DHA present in fish oil help boost memory and improve cognitive abilities. It may prevent neuropsychiatric disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression, cognitive decline, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Prevent Vision Loss
Studies revealed that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with improved eye health. It may reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases and prevent vision loss.
Help with Fetal Development
Studies showed that fish oil supplements play a great role in fetal development, especially the brain and eye health. It is therefore recommended to take fish oil supplements during pregnancy but should avoid the supplements obtained from fish like shark and king mackerel which contain high mercury levels.
Omega 3,6,9 and are healthy fats associated with a wide variety of benefits. Fish oil is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids and helps improve heart and brain health, promote skin and hair health, relieve inflammation, prevent cancer, increase weight loss and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
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