Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids impact the brain and mental health, lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, and are beneficial for treating diabetes, multiple sclerosis and now COVID-19
We live in a world of instant digital access, but that much connectivity at such a fast pace can take a toll in unexpected ways. One of the most obvious costs is paying attention to our health, particularly in terms of chronic disease and avoiding inflammation-bred maladies with omega 3-6-9 fatty acids from foods or supplementation.
According to a 2020 study using data from the 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), more than half of all U.S. adults had at least one of 10 diagnosed chronic conditions (arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension, stroke, and kidney disease), and more than 27% had two or more of these conditions.1
Systemic inflammation and a depressed immune system are often common threads between many chronic health conditions, which often result from a poor diet and little exercise.2 Fortunately, supplements, a sensible diet, and regular exercise can often help offset chronic inflammation and boost the immune system.
Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids is probably one of the best known such supplements. Although most people associate it with lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease, studies have also shown it to be beneficial for treating other conditions, such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis, both of which are connected to inflammation and lowered immunity.3,4
Interestingly, some current research shows great promise for omega 3-6-9 in lowering the death rate from COVID-19, specifically by lowering the extreme inflammation response (known as a cytokine storm) associated with the its most severe form.
Omega 3-6-9, cytokine storms and COVID-19
A paper published just this past January in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids reported on a possible link between low levels of omega 3 and a greater risk for death from severe COVID-19 infection among hospitalized patients.5 For the study, 100 patients were divided into four equal groups, based on the percentage of omega 3 in their blood. During the course of the study 14 patients died. One of these patients was from the group of 25 patients with omega 3 indices of greater than 5.7%, while the other 13 deaths came from the other three groups of patients with indices less than 5.7%.5
In running a statistical analysis, the researchers concluded that the 25 patients in the top group were 75% less likely to die than the 75 patients in the remaining three groups.5 This meant that patients with omega 3 indices lower than 5.7% were four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those with omega 3 indices above 5.7 %.
The researchers speculated that omega 3’s ability to rapidly block inflammation signaling can stop the cytokine storm from building up, thereby preventing the acute respiratory distress that can lead to death in severe cases of COVID-19.5 As the lead researcher noted: “While not meeting standard statistical significance thresholds, this pilot study – along with multiple lines of evidence regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of EPA and DHA – strongly suggests that these nutritionally available marine fatty acids may help reduce risk for adverse outcomes in COVID-19 patients.”
Taking omega 3-6-9 as part of a daily wellness routine to prevent chronic disease is always recommended. However, this new research indicates that people who are at increased risk of being hospitalized from COVID-19 may derive even more benefit from omega 3-6-9.
- Boersma P, Black LI, Ward BW. Prevalence of multiple chronic conditions among US adults, 2018. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2020;17:200130.
- Franz M. Nutrition, inflammation, and disease. Today’s Dietician. 2014;16(2):44.
- Natto ZS, Yaghmoor W, Alshaeri HK, Van Dyke TE. Omega-3 fatty acids effects on inflammatory biomarkers and lipid profiles among diabetic and cardiovascular disease patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports. 2019;9(1):18867.
- Hoare S, Lithander F, van der Mei I, et al. Higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with a decreased risk of a first clinical diagnosis of central nervous system demyelination: Results from the Ausimmune Study. Multiple Sclerosis. 2016 Jun;22(7):884-92.
- Asher A, Tintle NL, Myers M, et al. Blood omega-3 fatty acids and death from COVID-19: A pilot study [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jan 20]. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 2021;166:102250.