Have you ever wandered down the supplement aisle and noticed all the different omega fatty acid options? Between omega 3, 6, 7 and 9, it can get confusing trying to figure out which ones you need and what each one does. You've probably heard that omega 3s are good for your heart, but what about the other omegas? Turns out, they each have unique benefits for your health and certain ones work together. Before you get overwhelmed with all the options, here's a quick guide breaking down what each essential Omega 3 6 7 9 supplement does and how they can help boost your health. Once you understand the differences, you'll be able to choose the right omegas for your needs.
Key Differences Between Omega-3, Omega-6, Omega-7 and Omega-9
Omega fatty acids are essential fats that your body can't produce on its own, so you have to get them from your diet. The most well-known omegas are omega-3, omega-6, omega-7, and omega-9. These essential fatty acids play important roles in your health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help support brain, heart, and eye health. The main types are EPA and DHA, found in fatty fish like salmon, and ALA from plant sources such as flax and chia seeds. Aim for 1-3 grams of omega-3s per day from a combination of foods and supplements.
Omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body, so you only need them in moderation. They're found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils like sunflower or safflower oil. Most people get too many omega-6s in their diet, so limit intake to around 5-10 grams per day.
Omega-7 fatty acids help moisturize skin and may improve skin health, though more research is needed. Food sources include sea buckthorn oil, macadamia nuts, and cold water fish. Aim for around 500 milligrams of omega-7s per day from foods or supplements.
Omega-9 fatty acids are non-essential, meaning your body can produce them on its own, but getting more from your diet provides benefits. They help support heart health and cholesterol levels. Find them in olive oil, avocados, and almonds. Most people easily get enough omega-9s from a healthy diet, around 20-50 grams per day.
In summary, aim to balance your omegas by limiting omega-6s, getting adequate omega-3s and 7s, and eating a diet with plenty of healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and avocados for omega-9s. Supplement as needed to meet your daily needs. Your body—and your heart—will thank you.
Choosing the Right Omega Supplements for Your Needs
The omega fatty acids play different roles in your health. Here’s how to tell them apart:
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and help support brain and heart health. The three main types are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), found in plant oils like flaxseed and chia seed, and EPA and DHA which come from fish and algae. Fish oil supplements provide EPA and DHA.
Omega-6 fatty acids are also important for health, but our modern diet often contains too many. Omega-6s promote inflammation in the body, so you want a good balance with anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Omega-6s are found in plant oils like soybean, corn, and safflower. Limit consumption of processed and fast foods which are loaded with these oils.
Omega-7 fatty acids like palmitoleic acid may help support healthy metabolism and cholesterol levels. Omega-7 supplements are derived from anchovies, sardines, and macadamia nuts.
Omega-9 fatty acids, especially oleic acid, are non-essential since our bodies make them. But consuming omega-9 rich foods like olive oil, avocados, and almonds may provide benefits for heart health and weight management. Omega-9 supplements made from olive oil are also available.
Getting a balance of all the omegas is key for maximum health benefits. Talk to your doctor about whether supplements may be right for you, especially for omega-3s which most people do not get enough of through diet alone. The right supplements in the proper amounts can help you support whole body health and feel your best every day.