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Are there any benefits to taking an Omega 3/6/9 supplement versus just taking an Omega 3 supplement?

According to Wikipedia, in a "typical Western diet" the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is already too high, and many commonly-used cooking oils already contain ample amounts of Omega 6, so it seems counterproductive to consume even more Omega 6 in supplement form.

Omega 9, again according to Wikipedia, seems to be non-essential (i.e. can be synthesized by the body), and it also seems to be present in commonly-used oils, so supplementation seems a bit pointless.

Yet, I see Omega 3/6/9 supplements being sold.

  • Are these 3/6/9 supplements just a marketing trick, or do they actually have any real advantages over the omega-3-only supplements?
  • Or is the 3/6/9 combined supplement supposed to be helpful for a specific health condition (where just omega 3 would be less helpful)? If so, which condition(s)?
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People who are deficient in Omega-3, Omega-6 and/or Omega-9 would benefit from a 3/6/9 supplement.

However it is difficult to envisage a scenario in which omega-6/9 intake would be lacking, since both are so abundant, and Omega-9 can also by synthesized in the human body. A "zero fat" diet or a survival situation perhaps.

Omega-3 on the other hand, is less abundant. More importantly, Omega-3 is group of 3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA. ALA is an essential fatty acid, whereas EPA and DHA are synthesized from ALA within the body. However, the conversion rates are low and variable, and there is evidence that excess Omega-6 can inhibit the conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA. Therefore it is desirable to maintain a low ratio of Omega-3 : Omega-6 in the diet. Studies suggest a ratio of between 1 and 3 to 1. Western diets typically have a ratio of 1:20 or even higher. Berger et al (2017) found that high ratios were associated with increased risk of mood disorders

EPA and DHA are synthesized by algae, which are then eaten by krill which are in turn eaten by fish. This is why fish oil is a great source of Omega-3. For those who do not eat fish or consume fish products, an algal-oil-based supplement would be needed.

Sources:

Berger, M. E., et al. "Omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and subsequent mood disorders in young people with at-risk mental states: a 7-year longitudinal study." Translational psychiatry 7.8 (2017): e1220.

Simopoulos, A. P. (2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy, 56(8), 365-379.

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  • Nice. Although the conversion rates in humans might benefit from a bit more fleshing out. And why go from fish straight to algae (which btw?), isn't krill oil much more easily available (on the markets)? – LаngLаngС Apr 18 '18 at 19:47
  • @LangLangC I will flesh out the conversion rates a little, when I have time. As for krill oil, good point, though I believe in the concept of aiming low in the food chain to avoid pollutants and worry less about processing. – Robert Long Apr 18 '18 at 20:02
  • "Aiming low" is an excellent point & sth I wondered quite a bit about when realising that krill is available while the algae prods are not (yet/ in my locality). I also read that even krill is now or at least would be endangered when "harvested" from the wild… Strange sadness. – LаngLаngС Apr 18 '18 at 20:06
  • @LangLangC I am also a vegan so by default I recommend algal oil ! Check out the Vegetology "Opti3" product. If they don't ship to your location, let me know...(they are on amazon too) – Robert Long Apr 18 '18 at 20:12
  • Thx for the heads up! Locally as of today, algae products are still not available, even pharmacists playing inept on this. But your and other sources do ship it to my home. Am now checking those out in terms of quality etc… – LаngLаngС Apr 19 '18 at 20:41
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In alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic (omega-6) deficiency, the production of mead acid (omega-9) in the body increases (PubMed). Judging from this fact alone, supplementation with omega-9 sounds counterintuitive. I have also found no evidence of "omega-9 deficiency" or "omega-9 supplementation benefits."

Supplementation with linoleic acid (omega-6) makes sense in essential fatty acid deficiency (usually due to parenteral nutrition or severe fat malabsorption) (PubMed). Apart from that, there is insufficient evidence of omega-6 supplements benefits (MedlinePlus).

Office of Dietary Supplements mentions several study reviews that question the benefits of fish oil supplements (omega-3).

Higher consumption of seafood, such as fatty fish, appears to provide protection from many adverse CVD outcomes. However, many studies have shown that taking omega-3 dietary supplements, such as fish oil supplements, might not provide the same protection.

Conclusion: I have found no evidence about omega-3,6,9 supplements being more beneficial than omega-3 supplements.

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