The Other Omegas: What You Need to Know

Articles
January 30, 2015

The Other Omegas: What You Need to Know

Most of us are more than aware of the wide-ranging benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids. From inflammation to immunity, they are one of the most talked about fats. Most likely, you aren’t aware of the other odd omegas. Find out more here.

Most of us are more than aware of the wide-ranging benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids. From inflammation to immunity, they are one of the most talked about fats. Most likely, you aren’t aware of the other odd omegas, particularly omega-7, which provides some unique health benefits.

It’s important to note that omega-7, 9 and 5 are not “essential,” meaning they can be produced by the body. Therefore the importance of getting them in the diet is not as crucial as the essential omega-3s, which can only be obtained through food or supplementation. Omega-9 is more common than 7, it’s produced by the body with the ingestion of unsaturated fats, which are plentiful in today’s food. Canola and olive oil are both rich in omega-9s.

Omega-7 can also be produced by the body, but a particular omega-7, palmitoleic acid, is gaining popularity in skin care products as well as supplements targeting heart health, skin, weight. The most popular omega-7 supplement comes from sea buckthorn, followed by macadamia nut; there is also a little in dairy milk fat.

Why is omega-7 so interesting? In 2008, scientists at Harvard uncovered that palmitoleic acid plays an important metabolic role. The researchers claimed palmitoleic acid acts similar to a hormone, and they coined the term “lipokine” to describe this new class of hormones. Prior to this finding, all known hormones were either proteins (like growth hormone) or steroids (like estrogen and testosterone). 

According to Life Extension, it’s lipokine activity powerfully and safely addresses many of the underlying factors involved in metabolic syndrome. Omega-7 can reduce risk of type II diabetes, prevent the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque, increase beneficial HDL and lower inflammation; all are associated with decreasing risk for heart attack and stroke.

It’s important to note that more is not always better! High intake of palmitoleic acid has been associated with increased triglycerides, body mass, and greater risk of heart failure – the exact opposite of what we’re looking for!

The other odd omegas, omega-5 and omega-9 also have important properties, including supporting membrane fluidity maintaining cholesterol balance, regulating insulin sensitivity, and they are thought to have anti-arthritic, anti-obesity, and anti-proliferative properties.

It’s important to note that the research in this area is still young, so when you see food labels touting the benefits, tread lightly and always speak with your health care professional before making any changes to your diet.

For more on palmitoleic acid visit Life Extension.