test-What Are Omegas?
Essential Fatty Acids
What Are Omegas?
Swanson staff • February 9, 2024

What Are Omegas?

When it comes to health and nutrition, the term “omegas” refers to a class of unsaturated fatty acids,  some of which are classified as “essential fatty acids” (EFAs), while others are non-essential fatty acids. EFAs are necessary for overall health and wellness but cannot be synthesized within the body. For that reason, they must be gained through a nutritious diet or through supplementation.1 Non-essential fatty acids can be synthesized within the body, although supplementation may still be needed for optimal wellness.

Modern nutritionists commonly recognize four types of omegas: omega-3, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9. Of these, the first two (3 and 6) are classified as essential fatty acids.1 The second two (7 and 9) are monounsaturated fatty acids which the body is capable of synthesizing internally.2 Omega-7 studies and supplements most commonly refer it in the form of palmitoleic acid, while omega-9 is likewise typically referred to in the form of oleic acid. All omegas are available from food and supplement sources.

Sources of Omegas

Each of the four types of omegas can be gained from both food and supplement sources. For example, common food sources of omega-3 include flax seeds and certain nuts (such as walnuts), as well as fish oil and krill oil.1 Omega-6 EFAs (such as linoleic acid) are commonly sourced from vegetable oils, which is converted in the body to gamma-linoleic acid (GLA).3 Thanks to its use of olive oil, the Mediterranean diet is considered an excellent option for getting healthy amounts of omega-6 from your diet.3 Likewise, omega-7 fatty acids are typically found in fatty fish, sea buckthorn and macadamia nuts.4 Omega-9 fatty acids are also found in animal and plant sources, including cod oil, macadamia nuts, olive or avocado oil and sunflowers.2

Benefits of Omegas

While the overall health benefits of omega fatty acids include generalized organ and cardiovascular wellness, each type of omega offers its own support.

Health benefits of omega-3

Omega-3 essential fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).1 These promote health by supporting cellular health and communication while also bolstering brain and cardiovascular health.6

Health benefits of omega-6

Similar to omega-3 essential fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids benefit the health and vitality of cells and contribute to metabolism as a source of calories.1 Omega-6 is also known to promote the health of skin, hair and bones in addition to supporting reproductive wellness.3 The GLA metabolized from omega-6 may also contribute to nerve health and has been traditionally used to promote respiratory and women’s wellness.3

Health benefits of omega-7

Omega-7 (palmitoleic acid) has been studied for its healthful effects on cells, particularly those which play a role in vascular health.4 Additionally, omega-7 as palmitoleic acid has been linked to liver health.7 Similar to EFAs, omega-7 has been studied for its links to heart health.8 Omega-7 is also associated with healthy metabolic function and may support healthy weight management efforts.9 Omega-7 is also commonly taken as a supplement or found in topical applications for its benefits to skin health.10

Health benefits of omega-9

Omega-9 fatty acids are linked to supporting proper immune system function, particularly in the areas of eye, tissue and skin health.2 Likewise, omega-9 has been associated with organ health, such as supporting the lungs, intestines and liver.2 It may also support a healthy blood glucose response.2 These kinds of benefits are associated with oleic acid, the most commonly used form of omega-9 in studies and supplements.

How Much Omega Fatty Acid Do I Need?

The National Academy of Medicine has established guideline adequate intake (AI) levels of omega-3 EFAs for both children and adults. These guidelines indicate that most healthy adults require approximately 1.1-1.6 g per day for normal, healthy organ and cardiovascular functioning.5 To assess your personal needs, it’s always best to consult with your doctor.

Your health and wellness are our top priority, which is why Swanson Vitamins is proud to offer a large selection of fatty acid supplements, including food sources like flax seed and delicious gummies for both adults and children. We’re with you on your wellness journey, whatever your health goals may be.

You be well, now.

Swanson

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sources

  1. Essential Fatty Acids as Functional Components of Foods. Journal of Food Science and Technology. Read source
  2. Omega-9 Fatty Acids. Journal of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Read source
  3. Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Mount Sinai. Read source
  4. Palmitoleic Acid. National Library of Medicine. Read source.
  5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids? National Institutes of Health. Read source
  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Cleveland Clinic. Read source
  7. Palmitoleic Acid. National Library of Medicine. Read source
  8. Effects of Dietary Omega-7 Palmitoleic Acid-Rich Oil. NIH Clinical Center. Read source
  9. Fact Sheet on Palmitoleic Acid. Cancer Association of South Africa. Read source   
  10. Efficacy and Safety of Oral Palmitoleic Acid Supplementation. National Library of Medicine. Read source
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