Omega 3 6 9 benefits are strongly affected by what you eat and the type of omega supplement you take.
This is because the types of fats you eat in a day can overpower any benefits of taking omega 3 6 9 supplements.
And some omega 3 6 9 supplements are pretty unhealthy, while others are very healthy.
Let’s dig in a little further.
Omega 3 6 9 benefits overview
In an ideal world, your body will get a good amount and ratio of omega 3 6 9 fats from your diet.
By keeping these dietary fats in balance, you help your body maintain healthy skin, hair, and immune function to name a few.
Omega fatty acids come in 3 main categories.
The main health benefits of these specific fat categories are:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: help with every cell’s normal function and reduce inflammation. It is one of the key essential fatty acids in the diet. This means you can’t live without them. Some types of omega-3 fats are more effective than others.
- Omega 6 fatty acids: help the body to mount an immune response and is another essential fat in the diet. However, most people get too much of it when eating a Western diet, which causes inflammation. Some kinds of omega-6 fats are healthier than others.
- Omega 9 fatty acids: help to support heart health and reduce inflammation, but because the body can make them, they are considered non-essential fatty acids. Some omega-9 fats are healthier than others too.
But, as you can see, there is more to the story.
Omega 3-6-9 Ratios
For best health, it is ideal to get omega 3 6 9 fatty acid amounts from a supplement in a 2:1:1 ratio.
You will notice that this ratio is different from the ratio that is available in today’s common diets.
A ratio of omega 3:omega 6 should be 1:1 or as close to it if possible from foods [R]. This would be approximately what our hunter: gatherer ancestors got in their diets.
Sadly, the typical American diet has a ratio of about 1:16 for omega 3/omega 6 ratio [R].
Just so you know, most research doesn’t report ideal omega 3:6:9 ratios, only the omega 3:6 ratios.
Omega 3s and omega 6s: the polyunsaturated fatty acids
Let’s look at the polyunsaturated fatty acids, what foods have them, and their roles in the body.
A simple way to remember the difference between omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids is this:
- omega 3’s are generally anti-inflammatory
- omega 6’s are generally pro-inflammatory.
But there are a lot of gray areas here, so let’s explore this.
Types of omega-3 fats
There are 4 main types of omega-3 fats in the diet. Not surprisingly, they function at different levels in the body.
Omega 3 fats are a type of multiple double bond carbon fatty acid. These double bonds make them more susceptible to damage. For this reason, they can be oxidized, or break down, easily.
That is why getting fresh fish is best and cooking them at moderate and low temperatures is helpful for retaining their health benefits.
Categories of omega 3
Omega fatty acids of the omega 3 type come in 4 main forms. They are:
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is a type of fat that comes primarily from wild-caught fatty fish. It is essential for brain function and development, reducing heart disease risk, reducing inflammation, and more.
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is another type of fat from wild-caught fatty fish that is critical for a healthy mood, may help fight depression, and reduce inflammation. Helps reduce blood triglyceride levels.
- DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) from wild-caught fish is another type of fat that reduces inflammation and helps blood triglyceride levels. Less is known about this fat, although it may be just as important as DHA and EPA.
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found in plants like flaxseed, avocado, walnuts, canola oil, and pumpkin seeds. Unfortunately, ALA doesn’t work as effectively as DHA, EPA, or DPA because the human body can’t convert most of it into an activated form. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from flax seed oil because it has other health properties too.
All told, eating wild-caught fatty fish and taking fish oil supplements is the best way to get enough omega-3 fats in the diet. You can also get smaller amounts of omega-3s from free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, wild game, and algae.
Sadly, many Omega-369 supplements contain cheap and less effective forms of omega 3 and omega 6 fats.
Related post: How to Choose: Cod Liver Oil vs Fish Oil.
Types of omega-6 fats
Omega 6 fats sometimes get a bad name, and rightfully so. But they are essential, meaning the body needs them to survive.
And there are some types of omega-6 fatty acids that are actually quite healthy when used in the right proportions.
Like omega 3 fats, omega 6’s have multiple double carbon bonds in them, making them more susceptible to oxidation. This is why omega-6 fats don’t have a long shelf life and you should avoid eating them in fried foods.
Categories of omega 6
Here are the main types of omega-6 fats and their roles in your body.
- ARA (arachidonic acid) from poultry, organ meats, fish, and eggs, plays a role in normal immune function and may promote lean muscle tissue [R]. This type of fat is both pro-inflammation to mount an immune response and dampens inflammation to end an immune response. This is because the body uses ARA to make chemicals called eicosanoids.
- LA (Linoleic acid) is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid from vegetable oils like soybean, canola, peanut, and corn oil. This type of fat is pro-inflammatory when eaten in large amounts like it is in the United States and other Westernized societies. This type of fat gives omega 6 its bad name.
- GLA (Gamma linoleic acid) is a type of fatty acid molecule found in primrose oil and borage oil. The omega-6 benefits from this type of fat are that it dampens inflammation and keeps cell growth in check.
- CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) is found primarily in 100% grass fed beef and 100% grass-fed milk. This healthy fat may help reduce body fat, reduce cancer risk, and may lower rates of heart disease too.
How to get the best omega 6 ratios
The best way to get a good amount of omega-6 fats in your diet without overdoing it is to avoid processed foods, fried foods, and fast foods.
Also, use healthier cooking oils like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil instead of vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, or margarine.
Additionally, you can add a GLA supplement to your diet to help get healthy omega-6 fats without causing a lot of inflammation in your body.
When choosing meats, choose 100% grass-fed beef for better fat ratios and heart health than conventional beef. These meats also have less saturated fat than their conventional counterparts too.
Omega 9’s: the monounsaturated fatty acids
Omega 9 fatty acids, also known as oleic acid, are not essential fats because the body can make them on its own.
However, eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats is generally linked to improved health, so organizations like the American Heart Association recommend eating plenty of them.
The best sources of omega-9 fatty acids are avocados, extra virgin olive oil, flax seed, and tree nuts.
Omega 9 fatty acids only have one double bond in their structure and it is positioned on the 9th carbon.
One of the best oils to use, bar none, is extra virgin olive oil, due to its versatility, antioxidant content, and long history of benefits.
Omega 9 benefits are due to the fact that they help dampen inflammation and may help improve gut health.
Omega 3 6 9 benefits: putting it all together
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to Omega 3-6-9 fats. The type of whole food it comes from can make or break the ratio of these types of fats.
- When it comes to getting omega-3 fats its best to choose high-quality fish oil, but flaxseed oil can come in handy because it may also help fight cancer
- For omega-6 fats, the best choices are GLA and CLA, but ARA can also help the immune system
- Then, omega 9 fats can usually be found in your diet, but often come as a side benefit in many omega 369 supplements.
Omega 3 6 9 benefits for skin
The main types of fats that help the skin are omega 3 fats, GLA as omega 6 fats, and omega 9 fats like extra virgin olive oil.
Omega 3 fats help with skin conditions like psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, and skin ulcers according to a review of 38 clinical studies [R].
GLA, as an omega-6 fatty acid, reduces dry skin by helping to protect the skin from moisture loss according to research [R].
This benefit also may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles too. Using GLA also reduces inflammation so it may help people with dermatitis, eczema, or psoriasis.
Omega 9 fats like extra virgin olive oil help to reduce signs of aging in the skin by dampening inflammation [R].
Omega 3 6 9 benefits for brain
Among the many benefits of omega 3, 6, and 9 are powerful brain benefits.
Both CLA and GLA may have anti-cancer effects too [R].
Omega 3 6 9 benefits for eyes
When it comes to 369 omegas, they are definitely good for eye health.
Omega 3-6-9 benefits for joints
Without a doubt, the benefits of omega 369 are clear for joint health.
This is because they exert anti-inflammatory effects which help ease joint pain and may even help people with Rheumatoid arthritis [R].
In fact, adding omega-3 fats is better than glucosamine alone in helping to alleviate joint pain and osteoarthritis symptoms [R].
Omega-3 6 9 benefits for weight loss
With the Standard American Diet, Omega 6 fats such as linoleic acid are usually excessive.
Indeed, these excess omega 6 to omega 3 ratios are related to an increased risk of obesity and weight gain [R].
So, a balance of omega 3 to 6 is likely helpful for weight loss too. For example, one recent study found that fish oil helps to reduce belly fat because it may increase fat burning from brown fat tissue [R].
Additionally, omega-3 fats decrease inflammation in the joints. This often allows people to exercise more and stay at a healthy weight.
Using GLA helps people prevent weight regain as well, according to research in the Journal of Nutrition [R].
CLA also may help reduce body fat and body weight according to research [R].
However, not much is known about the effects of omega-9 fats on body weight.
Omega-3-6-9 benefits for diabetes
Along with all the other omega-369 benefits, having a good ratio of fats may help reduce the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes [R].
Supplemental omega-3 fats reduce the risk of elevated fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance in people who have type 2 diabetes as well [R].
Not only that, omega 3 supplements may reduce the damage of diabetes to the kidneys. One research study showed that omega-3 supplements reduced the losses of protein in the urine in people with diabetes [R].
GLA supplements reduced the nerve damage known as neuropathy in people with diabetes too [R].
Omega 3-6-9 side effects
Side effects of omega 3,6&9 are quite uncommon.
This is true because omega 3 and 6 are essential fats in the diet, meaning you can’t live without them.
Of course, you should avoid these supplements if you are allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients listed.
However, you should always check with your healthcare provider before starting any kind of supplements including omega 3 6 9 supplements.
Also, you should follow the package directions for dosing. Large doses of omega-3 fats have been linked to stomach upset or an increased chance of bleeding.
This is typically only true if you are on blood thinning medications.
Types of omega 3 6 9 to avoid
There are many brands of omega 3 6 9 to choose from.
You should avoid those that add less healthy oils like soybean oil or canola oil. This goes for the types of fats you choose to eat as well.
Instead, choose oils that get their omega-6 fats from GLA or CLA.
Vegetarian options, while still safe, do not have the same level of anti-inflammatory benefits as fish oil.
Algae oil would be a good vegetarian omega 3 to use, but most only use flaxseed or walnut oil as their omega 3 sources.
While still healthy, these fats don’t have the same potency as fish oil. The best vegetarian omega 369 supplements I could find is Udi’s Oil 369 blend.
Best types of omega 3 6 9 supplements
These brands have high concentrations of EPA, DHA, and GLA.
And a big plus is that they don’t contain oils that are already in excess in the diet anyway such as canola oil, soybean oil, or safflower oil.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.