Life Extension Magazine®

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Omega-7 An Overlooked Fatty Acid

A unique omega-7 fatty acid has been shown to increase fat breakdown and fat burning for energy. And that’s not all: in one study, patients taking the omega-7 for just 30 days showed a 43% reduction in C-reactive protein (inflammatory) levels. The discovery of omega-7 provides an opportunity to conquer metabolic disturbances that precede the diseases of aging.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Cristina Matthewman, Ph.D., Neuroscience, in August 2023. Written by: Cynthia Ronen.

“Fatty acids” are essential to human life because they are the cell’s primary energy source. Fatty acids also serve as cellular structural components.1

Ingesting the proper fatty acids confers significant health and longevity benefits.

What you need to know

  • The links between obesity, inflammation, and cardiometabolic diseases have never been clearer.
  • Fat tissue pours out pro-inflammatory signals at a discouraging rate, contributing to insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease while building still larger fat deposits.
  • Recently, researchers have discovered that omega-7 (palmitoleic acid) has positive health effects.
  • Omega-7 switches on fundamental energy-regulating systems that create a more metabolically youthful milieu, resulting in greater fat and sugar burning and less storage of these molecules.
  • Human research has shown that a small daily dose of omega-7 functions as a lipokine, a signaling molecule capable of shutting down inflammation and promoting normalization of lipid profiles, resulting in a net reduction of cardiovascular and diabetes risk.
  • Omega-7 may soon become a standard part of a supplement regimen aimed at minimizing the risk of early death or disability related to overweight, obesity, or disturbed lipid profiles.

The typical American diet contains plenty of omega-6s, but is woefully deficient in omega-3s and monounsaturated fats. This has led to a consensus to eat more foods rich in omega-3s (fish and some nuts) and monounsaturated fats (from olive oil and some nuts), less saturated fats, and no hydrogenated fats.

Animal studies and research in humans show that this novel fatty acid called omega-7 can help break the cycle of high blood sugar, elevated lipid levels, inflammation, and excess fat gain as well as enhance insulin sensitivity.3,4,5,6,13

In vitro and in vivo, Omega-7 has been shown to cause an increase in fat breakdown and an increase in the enzymes involved in fat burning for energy.7 Additionally, omega-7 treatment reduced new fat synthesis and the activity of lipid producing enzymes in fat cells.8

Research has shown that higher levels of omega-7 and omega-7 consumption are also associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker.3,13

All these findings point to omega-7 as a new chapter in the fight against metabolic disorders that underlie diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. Omega-7 can be a strong complement to the cardiovascular and lipid benefits of omega-3s.

Proper use of omega-7 provides an opportunity to conquer metabolic disturbances that precede the diseases of aging.

Impact of Surplus Fat

In the past two decades, the scientific understanding of body fat has undergone a dramatic change.

Scientists have discovered that body fat is a living organ and that fat tissue produces a vast array of destructive biochemical signaling molecules. Fat cells produce molecules called adipokines, which act on distant tissues to change their metabolic activity and result in higher levels of inflammation.6

Chronic, low-grade inflammation produced by increasing quantities of adipokines in obesity leads to insulin resistance in tissues.9 With insulin resistance, tissues lose the ability to respond to rising blood insulin levels.

Along with obesity, insulin resistance is a key early indicator of the emergence of type II diabetes.10.11

Research in animal models shows omega-7 (palmitoleic acid) has special properties essential to regulation of blood sugar and fat metabolism.2 Its metabolism-regulating properties have earned omega-7 the term lipokine, which are hormone-like molecules secreted by mature fat cells that signal between distant body tissues to ensure optimal energy utilization and storage.9,12

Human Research Suggests Benefits

Interest by the scientific community in omega-7s has been growing, due to findings from multiple epidemiological studies. Human epidemiological research has shown that blood omega-7 levels correlate significantly and positively with insulin sensitivity, even regardless of age, gender, and degree of body fat.6 In other words, subjects in that study with the highest levels of omega-7 had the greatest sensitivity to insulin action, giving them an advantage in disposing of blood sugar safely.

In another study involving 3,736 adults over 65, subjects with higher omega-7 levels had higher levels of HDL cholesterol (up 1.9%), lower triglyceride levels (down 19%), and a lower ratio of total-to-HDL cholesterol (by 4.7%). As an added benefit, high omega-7 levels were associated with lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (by 13.8%), and lower levels of insulin resistance (by 16.7%).13

Perhaps more exciting, those with the highest circulating omega-7 levels were at a 62% lower risk for developing type II diabetes, with those in the second-highest group having a risk reduction of 59% for developing diabetes.13

A clinical study with a low dose of omega-7s has also shown impressive results with this fatty acid. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of individuals with elevated C-reactive protein levels (>3 mg/L), consumption of 210 mg of omega-7 daily for 30 days significantly reduced levels of C-reactive protein (-1.9 mg/L), triglycerides (-36.9 mg/dL), and LDL-cholesterol (-13.5 mg/dL) compared to placebo. There also was an increase in beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol of 4.5 mg/dL compared with the placebo group. This corresponds with reductions of 43%, 17%, and 11% in C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and LDL respectively, and a 10% increase in HDL.3

Animal Studies

The findings from animal studies give us better clues about how omega-7 works in the body.

The initial animal research demonstrated the multiple ways that omega-7 operates at fundamental cellular levels to turn “on” metabolic regulators that favor energy utilization rather than storage as fat and sugar. The result is improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood lipid levels.12,14

Similar basic mechanisms are proposed to contribute to the reduction in inflammatory responses seen in the human studies.

Taken together, the sum of animal and human research suggests that small daily doses of purified omega-7 would be an effective weapon in the fight to prevent, and perhaps even reverse, the inflammatory changes linked to obesity, and ultimately, to a reduction in the cardiovascular and metabolic consequences (heart attacks, strokes, diabetes) of that inflammation.


Dietary fats  

Dietary fats, long considered the enemy in terms of health, are beginning to show a positive side.

It is well recognized that omega-3 polyunsaturated fats from fish oil have distinct health benefits on inflammation and cardiovascular risk. Now, research into a little-known fat called omega-7 suggests potent new positive health effects.

Omega-7 was recently shown to significantly reduce cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged people with mildly elevated C-reactive protein levels. A surprisingly tiny dose, 210 mg per day over 30 days, produced these significant effects.

Basic lab studies reveal the potential of omega-7. It functions as a lipokine, transmitting information about fat tissue to muscle and liver tissues. This in turn regulates the use fats and glucose to maintain healthy blood levels.

Together, these basic science findings coupled with recent human studies suggest that anyone at risk for heart attack, stroke, insulin resistance, or diabetes should consider a daily dose of omega-7 to lower their levels of chronic inflammation and reduce their risk of an early demise.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.



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