The Health Benefits of Omega 3, 6, 9 Fatty Acids and EPA & DHA

Omega-3 Supplements

You’ve probably heard the terms “fatty acid” and “omega 3″ before, but do you know what a fatty acid is or why your body needs it? What about the different types of fatty acids, what foods you can naturally find them in and how much your body needs to live a long, healthy life?

Fatty acids are important for all systems of the body to function normally, including your skin, respiratory system, circulatory system, brain and organs. There are two fatty acids, termed essential fatty acids (EFA) that your body does not produce on its own. EFAs have to be ingested.

The two essential fatty acids that the human body cannot produce are the omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid, which are important for brain development, immune system function and blood pressure regulation.

What is Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

Omega-3 fatty acid (Alpha-linolenic acid) is an essential fatty acid that plays an important role in brain function and may help you fight against cardiovascular disease [1]. The American Heart Association recommends a diet in which fatty fish, like salmon, herring, sardines and tuna are consumed at least twice a week.

While these foods are high in omega-3 fatty acid, I personally do not agree with this recommendation as fish can be contaminated and may be high in mercury, which can have detrimental health effects. Plus, I believe a raw food diet consisting of little to no meat is better for the human body.

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Research on the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid have shown that it may be useful for supporting the following:

  • Asthma [2]
  • Diabetes [3]
  • Arthritis [4]
  • Osteoporosis [5]
  • Some Cancers [6]
  • Skin Disorders [7]
  • High Cholesterol [8]
  • High Blood Pressure [9]
  • Attention Disorders [10]
  • Depressive Disorders [11]
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Digestive Difficulties

Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in:

  • Grains
  • Spirulina
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Hempseed Oil
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Chia Seed Oil
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Canola Oil (Rapeseed)
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Raw Walnuts & Walnut Oil
  • Flaxseeds or Flaxseed Oil

What is Omega-6 Fatty Acid?

Omega-6 fatty acid (Linoleic Acid) combined with omega-3 fatty acid produces many of the health benefits described above, but the trickiest part about playing the fatty acid game is that it is best to eat them in the right amounts.

You should be eating about twice as much omega-6 as omega-3, so that your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 2:1, but in today’s world of fast food, frozen entrees, and high calorie snacks, it is not uncommon for most people to actually be getting about 15 times more omega-6 than omega-3. Washington DC’s center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health suggest that eating omega-6 and omega-3 in the wrong proportions may actually negate the health benefits.

The best sources of omega-6 are seeds, nuts and grains and green leafy vegetables, like lettuce, broccoli, purslane and kale, and in certain raw vegetable oils. Care should be taken to use raw cold pressed vegetable oils because cooking destroys the benefits of the fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are also found naturally in:

  • Olive Oil
  • Wheatgerm
  • Grapeseeds
  • Pistachios
  • Sesame Oil
  • Hempseed Oil
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Chia Seed Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Raw Nuts & Seeds

What is Omega-9 Fatty Acid?

Omega-9, or monounsaturated oleic and stearic acid, is a non essential fatty acid produced naturally by the body whenever there is enough of either Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.

However, if you do not have enough omega 3 and omega 6, then you must get omega 9 from your diet.

This fatty acid plays a role in promoting heart health by supporting healthy, balanced cholesterol levels and improving immune function.

Omega-9 fatty acids are also found naturally in:

  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Chia Seed Oil
  • Olives & Olive Oil

What is EPA and DHA?

Within the body omega-3 fatty acids are converted to DHA and EPA (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, respectively). DHA and EPA are highly unsaturated fats that play very important roles in the vision development and brain function of infants.

One study found significantly lower amounts of EPA in the cells of patients who had attempted suicide, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids may actually play a role in suicide prevention. A lack of DHA has been associated with Alzheimer disease, attention disorders, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis and other diseases. Blue green algae is a good source of EPA and DHA.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Wang C, Harris WS, Chung M, Lichtenstein AH, Balk EM, Kupelnick B, Jordan HS, Lau J. n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):5-17. Review.
  2. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Health Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Asthma. 2004 March. Publication No. 04-E013-1
  3. Mita T, Watada H, Ogihara T, Nomiyama T, Ogawa O, Kinoshita J, Shimizu T, Hirose T, Tanaka Y, Kawamori R. Eicosapentaenoic acid reduces the progression of carotid intima-media thickness in patients with type 2 diabetes. Atherosclerosis. 2007 Mar;191(1):162-7. Epub 2006 Apr 17.
  4. Fortin PR, Lew RA, Liang MH, Wright EA, Beckett LA, Chalmers TC, Sperling RI. Validation of a meta-analysis: the effects of fish oil in rheumatoid arthritis. J Clin Epidemiol. 1995 Nov;48(11):1379-90.
  5. Vanek C, Connor WE. Do n-3 fatty acids prevent osteoporosis? Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):647-8.
  6. Augustsson K, Michaud DS, Rimm EB, Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Giovannucci E. A prospective study of intake of fish and marine fatty acids and prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Jan;12(1):64-7.
  7. University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 fatty acids overview. The University of Maryland Medical System.
  8. McKenney JM, Sica D. Prescription omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2007 Mar 15;64(6):595-605. Review.
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Does fish oil lower blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled trials. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8339414
  10. Richardson AJ, Montgomery P. The Oxford-Durham study: a randomized, controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder. Pediatrics. 2005 May;115(5):1360-6.
  11. Su KP, Huang SY, Chiu CC, Shen WW. Omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder. A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2003 Aug;13(4):267-71. Erratum in: Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2004 Mar;14(2):173.

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  • Jessica

    Hello Dr. Group,

    This is off-topic but I am doing an oral presentation for school and would like to know your opinion on the use of tanning beds as a substitute for natural sunlight in areas that are overcast, like MI. If so may I reference you as well.
    Thank You.

  • http://www.mastercare.nl bastiaan swager

    I saw a video interview with Dr Mercola on http://www.consciousmedianetwork.com where he talks about using tanning beds to supply Vitamin D successfully to the human body. You can check out his interview and research there (for free)…
    Many blessings & Amazing health,
    Bastiaan, Amsterdam (NL)

  • Evelyn

    Hi Dr Group,

    Traditional Chinese Physicians would disagree with the raw food with little meat diet concept as it is considered too ‘cold’ for the body, especially for those with very ‘yin’ constitution. People who are very yin typically experience weakness, tiredness and feel cold easily.

    While I believe many people have thrived on such diets it is not for everybody.

  • http://www.utopiasilver.com Collodial Silver

    Great article, very well written. Many dieters don’t realize the benefit that vitamins can have to their health.

  • Carmen

    Hello,

    What is the website orstore name you mentioned for the omega 369

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids

    Omega 3 fatty acids have lot of benefits. They are most essential for a healthy body and especially recommended for persons suffering from heart diseases. The main source of omega 3 fatty acids are fish and flax seeds.

  • Sean H

    Great article…I, for one, can attest to the power of the Omega3′s that are present in Chia (specifically Mila)
    Within a week of using Mila, aches and pains diminished and my energy level was awesome. Within approx. 4 months, my cholesterol came down approx 30 points.

    I hear alot of talk about seafood and flax but there is only one food that is giving 3g of Omega 3 per serving and the best ratio of 3′s to 6′s.

  • Yousef Goussous

    I am a diabetic .The reading after two hours of eating food is around 127 mg/dl. I take one pill a day of Omega 3,6,9 Capsules,and eat tuna too.I take 3 times a day metformin HCL BP 500MG .Is it Wrong to do so.

  • CSJ

    Whoa, you’re kidding right?? Canola oil is horrible for you and NOT a good source of omega-3! Cooking oils aren’t really a great way to get omega-3, except maybe macadamia nut oil.

  • Attia De Los Julios

    Excellent article! Well-written, direct and to the point. Many authors out there are trying to relay the same info, but only cause confusion and doubt. I’ve shared this info with my friends and relatives in South America Thanks!

  • Omega 3

    Omega 3 fatty acids are the most beneficial oils a person can consume, either as supplements or from fish. I just can’t speak highly enough about them.

  • Coup

    I like a supplement that supplies essential fatty acids in an ideal ratio of omega 3-6-9. There are several different quality brands.

  • Kelly

    Have you ever considered getting the 3,6,9,11 omegas from Emu’s? Trust me this is better than one stop shopping! You cannot find 4 omegas in one species in the world. Not only does the emu oils help with brain development but it also produces callogen.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-omega-3-6-9-fatty-acids/ Dave

    The so-called doctor that wrote this article is either misinformed or is just plain stupid. As research has shown the risk of consuming wild caught fish is far outweighed by the benefits of eating fish. Unless you are pregnant, or plan on giving birth in the near future do not worry about the mercury levels in fish because the benefits of fish consumption are far more beneficial than detrimental to the human body. Numerous scientific studies concur with this and the EPA and FDA are now actually recommending people to eat more fish. Also, this “Doctor” stated that a raw food diet is better for the human body. THIS IS NONSENSE! I was lucky enough to sit in on a lecture by Harvard anthropologist Dr. Richard Wrangham who showed (through years of research) that a raw food diet can be severely damaging to the body. For people, a sustained diet of raw foods can lead to infertility, extreme weight loss, low energy and eventually organ failure. We as humans were made to eat food that is cooked! Don’t listen to this article because, well, anyone can write anything they want on the internet, and claim to be whatever they wish. DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ!

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-omega-3-6-9-fatty-acids/ Dave

    PS- YES, fatty acids are extremely beneficial and aid in numerous bodily functions (which is why fish consumption is highly recommended) . Even so, I would take what is written on this website with a grain of salt after reading “Dr. Groups” statement. The guy is a chiropractor, which doesn’t make him an expert in anything besides back-bones and giving people adjustments. Move onto a different website. ENOUGH SAID.

  • Mike L.

    I can agree with a lot of info that you are stating but what are your credentials to back up this fact?

  • mike routson

    Throw out your salad dressings peanut butter to much omega 6s.This interferes with omega 3s.

  • Ron Boutwell

    Little or no meat in your diet indeed! Get a clue. Look in the mirror. Your body was designed with a clear purpose. The mere presence of canine teeth are a dead give away. WE ARE NATURAL PREDATORS PEOPLE. STOP BEING CRYBABIES ABOUT IT, GROW UP AND DEAL WITH IT. Predators eat meat. All the nonsense going around about what meat does to you that is detrimental is blown out of the water when you see how incredibly healthy people are on the Atkins Diet. OMG, did I say Atkins was a good thing? Yes! I went on it for 12 months. I lost over 62 pounds. My blood pressure dropped to the mid-range of normal. My sleep patterns are better. Even my cholesterol looks way better. My HDL (the good cholesterol) is 62. 31 is good. 62 is awesome. We are carnivores people. When we got away from that and began to consume tons of carbs and processed sugars our bodies made us pay for the mistake. Get back to nature. Embrace your inner carnivore. Your body will thank you. Mine did. I am 49 and my Framington Assessment is 4!

  • Anthony

    Wow… obviously you have never done research on cancer or it’s causes . I have seen my share of deaths in result of the quote on quote “Atkins diet due to meat and it’s reliance as viable protien. Atkins diet is great, but show me where he states meat as a necessary or healthy?

  • johnnn

    I would definitely NOT take this with a grain of salt seeing as sodium chloride is VERY BAD FOR YOU!

  • http://ghc a solomon

    dear sir, my body weight is 98 kgs age 49years and my bp is 170\100 i am taking bp tablets once a day i want to reduce my weight can this omega 369 will reduse my weight without any side effects i am in india at chennai city where can i get this tablets please reply with detail reports price of tablets with regards A solomon

  • Gim

    Since when does the body convert omga-3′s to DHA and EPA? Last I knew the human body lacked the enzymes necessary to desaturate fatty acids to this point.

    Which is why the marketing on omega-3′s is such BS. They put flax (containing short chain omega-3 ALA) in everything from margarine to yogurt and boast “Omega-3′s”. However, the research shows that the real benefits come from the long chain omega-3′s DHA and EPA, not the shorter ALA (which cannot be converted to the longer version).

  • Stephanie

    Then how do you explain gorillas which have massive canine teeth, but yet they are herbivores?

  • Stephanie

    Then how do you explain Gorillas? They have canines but yet they are herbivores?

  • kev

    FYI

    Doctors of Chiroptactic have just as much, if not more credit hours than Medical Doctors. Look it up.

  • dina

    @ Stephanie Gorillas also eat ants and termites which is a source of animal protein

  • dina

    canola oil has also been genetically changed to be less susceptible to bugs. How is changing a food structure healthy.

  • Patrick

    FYI

    “Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer, a grocer and ‘magnetic healer’ who believed that all diseases are the result of misplaced spinal bones.”

    “The scope and depth of both normal function as well as disease states taught in conventional medical schools is simply not present in most chiropractic schools. Chiropractic students simply do not receive sufficient training about the recognition and treatment of many disease processes. Chiropractic schools do no have access to patients with a wide range of medical conditions seen in medical schools. Chiropractic organizations and licensing boards have not actively supported or promoted additional residency training after graduation as is standard for medical school graduates.”

    “Although chiropractors are recognized as ‘Doctors of Chiropractic’ they are not medical doctors. Under current law chiropractors are considered ‘limited providers’ in that there are restrictions on their scope of practice. They can not perform surgery or other invasive procedures nor can they prescribe medications.”

    Source: http://your-doctor.com/patient_info/alternative_remedies/various_therapy/chiropractic.html

  • Melissa

    Is it safe or recommended to take both Omega 3-6-9 caps and DHA, EPA caps? Or is this overkill? I take Chia 3-6-9 and as a vegan I am doing my best to make sure that I am getting all the nutrients I need to keep optimum health. Should I be taking DHA, EPA instead or in concert with the chia?
    Thanks for your help!
    Melissa

  • Gearjammer

    Ok, I have been in a bit of a rut for a while now. I would say I probably suffer from some form of low level depression. I have been eating a can of sardines or two every day, and have been doing a small workout at least every two days, and I almost immediately noticed a complete lack of the blues, when i started eating more fish. maybe it is a placebo effect but whatever it is, it is working.

    I may be wrong, but i belive that smaller fish like sardines, contain less heavy metals then larger fish like tuna, that eat all the smaller fish and allow the heavy metals to accumulate in their systems. I likely have many chemicals in my system already (I was a mechanic for 10 years) so the toxins in fish dont really worry me

  • http://www.GlobalHealingCenter.com GHCCustomerService

    Thank you for your post! The Environmental Defense Fund has a decent list of fish that may be better to eat and may be worth consideration. Over all I would think that a number of factors would influnce the out come of which would be the safest, such as where the fish is caught and the size, as you have mentioned. Although you may not initially be concerned with the influence of toxins which come from eating fish, I may suggest that these toxins can actually be the cause of symptoms such as depression, hence the need in being precise with the fish that one does consume.

    There are ways to detox the metals and toxins that enter our body, this may help you with the symptoms your suggesting are problematic for you. If you find that you have specific questions about detox, or in general, please feel free to contact the Global Healing Center and we will be more than happy to help you.

    Take care and be well!

  • JackingHoff

    Well, that doesn’t mean that their classes and exposure to illness, disease, and death is the same.
    Even medical assistants have more clinical exposure and experience than Chiropractors!!
    Simply knowing a book just does not work in real big boy medicine… Sorry.
    Don’t get me wrong, Chiropractors serve a purpose, but when they come on here and talk crap, It’s bad for everyone.

  • SHOGAN

    I firmly believe that most if not all disease is caused by toxicity and deficiency. That may sound simplistic, but not really. Take a moment and think about it. There was once a time when all food was organic. Livestock and vegetables where all raised without chemicals and genetics. So it is simple, Stop putting chemical infused and genetically altered food in your body. And get back to REAL FOOD, HEALTHY FATS and moderation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shibu.john.16100 Shibu John

    Omega BioPlus™ is a dietary supplement with a unique blend
    of 3, 6 and 9 omega fatty acids obtained from natural vegetable sources
    which are essential for good health. Omega -3 fatty acids are
    considered essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized by
    the human body but are vital for normal metabolism. They play an
    important role in reducing inflammation through out the body -in the
    blood vessels and joints. Omega 3 fatty acids are important in
    preventing many health problems including heart disease, rheumatoid
    arthritis and cancer.

    There are several types of omega 3 fatty acids –
    EPA and DHA. Fish and plants like flax contain ALA omega 3 fatty acid
    that is partially converted to DHA and EPA in the body. In this way ALA
    acts as a precursor for the formation of the essential fatty acids EPA
    and DHA.

  • Charles

    There have been significant studies to prove that too much animal protein is responsible for the acceleration of cancer. In a test sudy, two well-known and highly respected scientists measured the effects of 5% and 20% animal protein given to cancerous mice. The 5% group all stayed at their current level of infection, and the 20% group’s cancer accelerated to death. An enormous effort in China, and the world’s leading study on cancer to-date also suggests that animal protein is responsible for the “amplification” of cancer

  • Nade

    Gorillas are not actually complete herbivores, I can’t remember the name for it but they eat some insects and invertebrates I believe as well as a lot of fruit. I suspect the canines are for breaking hard-shelled fruit? I’m not an expert though.

  • Nade

    We certainly are omnivores. The exclusion of either animal protein or plant nutrition can have disastrous consequences to your health whether that be a slow decline in health which you may not notice until it is severe or almost instant effects on your health. E.G. if I had no animal nutrition for a week I would feel quite run down by the end of the week, probably quite ratty and possibly a bit ill.

  • Nade

    Atkins is an extreme diet, as is vegetarianism. That’s like saying MacDonalds is meat, therefore eating meat is unhealthy. A MacD burger is a far cry from a beautiful, organic piece of lean beef fillet!

  • juan

    en español porfavor me responden si una persona esta con mucha grasa dentro del cuerpo y esta grasa hace que el corazon funcione en un estado no normal puede tomar omega 3 o amega 3 6 9 me informan porfavor

  • Tim

    Why are some people always so hostile when expressing their opinions. I really don’t understand it.

  • minh

    I m just start my doc say take omega 3 to see in two month then have blood test to see cholesterol going down

  • http://twitter.com/tennisplayer29 Michelle

    Why are people feuding over whether humans are carnivores. If you want to eat meat then do it. If you don’t then that’s fine too. Get over it. I’m vegetarian and that’s my choice. Ron is just as annoying as vegetarians shoving their beliefs down others throats.

  • ron sucks

    fuck. you. you weren’t around for the last 20,000 years to know who ate what so shut the fuck up

  • Sachette

    You make.the most sense of all the comments I have read

  • http://www.facebook.com/daxx2 Dan Ran

    this comment actually made my entire week ;)

  • lolita

    The problem with meat today is the toxins in it. Meat is healthy for us, in the right amounts, but theres crap in it that makes it bad for us. Of course there is the organic option but 95% of meat comes out of mills. Ew

  • Abraham Choo

    hi! Dr Edward group, may i know what is Essential Fatty Acid in detail? what so Important about it?

  • Regan Ashby

    As a 29 year old vegetarian for 16 years, I can tell you that meat is not needed in your diet.

  • Regan Ashby

    The Atkins Diet is a shock diet. You would lose just as much weight if you eliminated protein from your diet and only ate vegetables, or only carbs, or only juice. Regardless, when you go back to a normal diet after Atkins, your body panics and holds onto all the carbs you left out, and you subsequently gain fat again. The Atkins diet is a proven failure. That’s why you don’t see them advertising it on menus anymore.

    And we only have 4 incisors. The rest of our teeth resemble those of a cow. There are plant foods that are tougher than meat.

  • rakesh

    Respected sir, mera weight 80 kg hai age 42 height 5.6 hai mai weight kam karnai kai liya kya food supliments lai sakta hoo.

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