Omega-7 An Overlooked Fatty AcidMay 2016
The discovery of omega-7 provides an opportunity
Scientists at Harvard and the Cleveland Clinic have been investigating a unique fatty acid, omega-7, which has been shown to increase fat breakdown and fat burning for energy.
By Cynthia RonenIn one study, patients taking omega-7 for just 30 days showed a 44% reduction in C-reactive protein (inflammatory) levels. The discovery of omega-7 provides an opportunity to conquer metabolic disturbances that precede the diseases of ageing.
Impact of Surplus FatIn 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 body fat leads to insulin resistance in tissues.6 With insulin resistance, tissues lose the ability to respond to rising blood insulin levels. Along with obesity and an excessively fatty diet, insulin resistance leads to further inflammation, even more insulin resistance, and ultimately the emergence of type II diabetes.7,8 Scientists have discovered that 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 that link distant body tissues to ensure optimal energy utilization and storage.6,9,10 In a recent human study, omega-7 produced precisely the kind of effects one might expect from a natural fat-regulating/sugar-regulating compound.
Cleveland Clinic Study
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Omega-7 Benefits Metabolic Health
- 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.
- A landmark human study now demonstrates 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.
Additional Studies Show BenefitInterest by the scientific community in omega-7 was just beginning to grow at the time of the Cleveland Clinic study. Human epidemiological research had already shown that blood omega-7 levels correlated significantly and positively with insulin sensitivity, even regardless of age, gender, and degree of body fat.3 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, 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%).11 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.11 And, in another study involving 3,630 American men and women,12 researchers found that higher levels of omega-7 were strongly associated with numerous positive health factors. This includes lower LDL and higher HDL cholesterol levels, a lower total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio, and lower levels of the pre-clotting protein fibrinogen. These studies demonstrated that people with higher levels of omega-7 had lower levels of inflammation and a lower risk of diabetes (as in the Cleveland Clinic study).
Animal StudiesOmega-7 was first tested in the animal model and the findings were remarkable. 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. The same basic mechanisms contribute to the reduction in inflammatory responses seen in the human participants in the Cleveland Clinic study. Taken together, the sum of basic, animal, and human research now suggests that small (250 mg a day or lower) doses of purified omega-7 will 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.
- Bernstein AM, Roizen MF, Martinez L. Purified palmitoleic acid for the reduction of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and serum lipids: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo controlled study. J Clin Lipidol. 2014;8(6):612-7.
- Yang ZH, Miyahara H, Hatanaka A. Chronic administration of palmitoleic acid reduces insulin resistance and hepatic lipid accumulation in KK-Ay Mice with genetic type 2 diabetes. Lipids Health Dis. 2011;10:120.
- Stefan N, Kantartzis K, Celebi N, et al. Circulating palmitoleate strongly and independently predicts insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(2):405-7.
- Bolsoni-Lopes A, Festuccia WT, Farias TS, et al. Palmitoleic acid (n-7) increases white adipocyte lipolysis and lipase content in a PPARalpha-dependent manner. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013;305(9):E1093-102.
- Bolsoni-Lopes A, Festuccia WT, Chimin P, et al. Palmitoleic acid (n-7) increases white adipocytes GLUT4 content and glucose uptake in association with AMPK activation. Lipids Health Dis. 2014;13:199.
- Queiroz JC, Alonso-Vale MI, Curi R, et al. Control of adipogenesis by fatty acids. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2009;53(5):582-94.
- Gerich JE. Is insulin resistance the principal cause of type 2 diabetes? Diabetes Obes Metab. 1999;1(5):257-63.
- Groop LC. Insulin resistance: the fundamental trigger of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Obes Metab. 1999;1 Suppl 1:S1-7.
- Cao H, Gerhold K, Mayers JR, et al. Identification of a lipokine, a lipid hormone linking adipose tissue to systemic metabolism. Cell. 2008;134(6):933-44.
- Foryst-Ludwig A, Kreissl MC, Benz V, et al. Adipose tissue lipolysis promotes exercise-induced cardiac hypertrophy involving the lipokine C16:1n7-palmitoleate. J Biol Chem. 2015;290(39):23603-15.
- Mozaffarian D, Cao H, King IB, et al. Trans-palmitoleic acid, metabolic risk factors, and new-onset diabetes in U.S. adults: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(12):790-9.
- Mozaffarian D, Cao H, King IB, et al. Circulating palmitoleic acid and risk of metabolic abnormalities and new-onset diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92(6):1350-8.