Omega Fatty Acids May – or May Not – Do a Body Good

Updated: Jan 28

by Jaycee Miller


Research indicates that both omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids promote good health as reported on Healthline.com. However, evidence is mixed when it comes to omega-6 fatty acids, according to articles on the same website and in the Open Heart journal.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are not produced in the body naturally. Therefore, they must be consumed to obtain health benefits like lowered inflammation, preventing depression, and promoting heart and brain health, also according to Healthline.com.


Most women need about 1.1 grams of the substance daily to reach what the National Institutes of Health considers an “adequate intake,” while most men need about 1.6 grams daily. These amounts may be obtained by “eating oily, fatty fishes at least twice a week,” says Robert Fishberg, M.D., a cardiologist with Atlantic Medical Group.


A tuna fish sandwich “made as lean and with as little mayonnaise as possible” may also provide omega-3s, says Kimberly M. Lamartin, M.D., a primary care physician with Tampa General Medical Group. “Other good sources are soybean oil, vegetable oil, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds,” she adds.


Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6s are another polyunsaturated fat that is not produced in the body naturally and thus, must be consumed to receive their health benefits, Healthline.com states. Sources include soybean oil, corn oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds and cashews. Most women ages between 19 and 50 years should try to consume 12 grams daily, while for men in this age group, 17 grams daily is advised, the website continues.


The data on omega-6’s benefits appear mixed. Two physicians from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute wrote in Open Heart that some omega-6 sources may be a leading cause of coronary heart disease, while Healthline.com indicates omega-6s may help reduce symptoms of inflammatory diseases.


Until more evidence is available, Lamartin recommends “having a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids to offset omega-6 fatty acids.” In addition, Healthline.com encourages a “healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids appears to be between 1-to-1 and 4-to-1.”


Omega-9 Fatty Acids

Omega-9s are produced naturally in the body, according to Food for the Ageing Population. Therefore, there are no recommended daily amounts of their consumption, Healthline.com says.


Food for the Ageing Population adds that omega-9s help maintain cardiovascular and brain health, while they may improve insulin sensitivity and lower inflammation. Sources of the substance include olive oil, peanut oil, cashews and walnuts.


Supplements

Fishberg encourages those that want to use fish oil supplements to fill in any omega fatty acid nutritional gaps to be careful.


“They are not regulated by the FDA,” he cautions. “Some may have impurities in them.” To minimize this risk, he advises buying such supplements “from a very reputable store.”


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