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Fatty15 is 3X better than omega-3. Read the science.

What Is the Difference Between Omega-3 and Omega-6?

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in food like nuts and fish that helps with cognitive function, energy levels, and the immune system.
  • Omega-6 is another polyunsaturated fatty acid found in nuts and seeds that’s mainly used for energy.
  • Some forms of odd chain saturated fatty acids can also be helpful, like the C15:0 found in fatty15 that helps in keeping our cells functioning in a healthy way. 

It can be hard these days to keep up with the science around good versus bad fats. Fat is bad, fat is good -- which is it?

Prior to the late 70s, fat was our friend. Our diets consisted of full-fat milk and milk products like cheese and butter. We ate eggs without concern for their fat content.

The problem that arose, however, was an increase in cardiovascular disease. In fact, when President Eisenhower suffered a major heart attack in 1955, he made his health and care public. His presiding physician urged Americans to stop smoking and decrease fat intake. This declaration was based on research by a physician named Ancel Keys.

In 1977, the U.S. government gave nutrition guidelines to the American population: eat less fat, especially saturated fat, to decrease your risk of heart disease. 

Unfortunately, this dietary change did not provide the health fix for which the government was hoping. As we eliminated fat from our diets (and increased our amount of dietary sugar), we began to see an increase in chronic conditions, especially among youth, like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Maybe fat, even saturated fat, wasn’t the bad guy after all. 

In fact, a growing body of science supports that there are fats we need in our diet that were lacking due to the national push for low-fat diets.

What is the Difference Between Omega-3 and Omega-6?

Many of us are aware that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help to keep us healthy. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (specifically, alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid) are considered essential. An essential fatty acid is one that our body needs but cannot make. That means we must get this fatty acid from an outside source. Let’s look at omega-3s and omega-6s individually to determine what makes them both different and essential. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found in large quantities in certain food sources. The sources of omega-3 include fatty fish (like mackerel and sardines), nuts, seed oils (like flaxseed oil and chia seeds), and vegetable oils (like soybean oil, canola oil, and olive oil).

The most common types of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • EPA. Eicosapentaenoic acid can help improve your heart health and can help aid your immune system.
  • DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid is crucial for healthy brain development and cognitive function.
  • ALA. Alpha-linolenic acid is most effective in giving the body energy. It is also an “essential” omega-3 fatty acid. It cannot be produced by the body, so we have to get it from foods containing omega-3.

Daily recommendations for intake of omega-3 fatty acids, often through fish oil supplements, are 1.1 grams for women and 1.6 grams for men.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fatty acids, “PUFAs,” and they are more common in a Western diet than omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are mostly used by the human body for energy and are found in plant oils, seeds, and nuts. 

The four common types of omega-6 fatty acids are:

  • Linoleic acid. This is the other “essential” omega fatty acid, and it only comes from omega-6 rich foods.

  • ARA. Whether arachidonic acid or “ARA” is actually beneficial to us is the subject of much debate. It may or may not be effective in promoting a healthier heart.

  • GLA. This fatty acid may help support bone and joint health.

  • CLA. This fatty acid supports healthy weight maintenance.

Our typical diet is usually heavy on omega-6 fats, and your body only needs between 12 grams for women and 17 grams for men of omega-6 fatty acids per day. 

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can be beneficial for heart health and disease prevention. The real difference between the two fatty acids is how the carbon atoms bond to the end (omega) of the acid molecule. Aside from this structural difference, these two fatty acids are essentially partners for supporting your heart health. It is important to get the right omega-6 to omega-3 ratio for optimal health.

Are There Downsides to Omega-6?

Some studies suggest that consuming too many omega-6 fats could lead to certain health problems.

A 2018 study found an association between a higher dietary intake of omega-6 fats and inflammation that caused tissue damage and disease.

The Arthritis Foundation says that omega-6 fatty acids may trigger the body’s production of pro-inflammatory substances, potentially worsening symptoms in people with arthritis.

However, not all experts agree on whether omega-6 fats are harmful, with some stating that human studies on obesity and omega-6 intake are limited and inconclusive.

Other researchers say that there is no conclusion on whether omega-6 fatty acids cause or prevent inflammation and that there is a need for more clinical trials.

The important piece of information here is to keep a close eye on the ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in your diet. 

Are There Any Side Effects of Omega-3 and Omega-6?

The popularity of omega-3 supplements is sizable, but these fish oil supplements aren’t without their own Achilles heel. 

Only one omega-3 (ALA) and one omega-6 (LA) are actually essential. EPA and DHA are not essential fatty acids, but most supplements contain them.

Excessive consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could lead to:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Thinning of blood, which can lead to blood clotting issues
  • Excessive bleeding if an injury were to occur
  • Increased risk of bruising

In addition, omega-3 is liquid at room temperature, which means it can go rancid, just like corn oil sitting in your pantry. Many bottles of omega-3 have been found to be rancid on store shelves. If the oil is rancid in the bottle, it will be rancid in your cells.

In studies, omega-3 didn’t provide as wide a range of health benefits in a safe and effective manner as another fatty acid did (more on that later). 

Are All Saturated Fats Bad?

You may be surprised to hear that, no, not all saturated fats are bad. Although we’ve been conditioned to believe that all saturated fats are bad for us, researchers have discovered that not all saturated fats are created equally, and some are actually beneficial for us and even essential to maintaining our health. 

This discovery could be the ultimate fat game changer, as a growing body of scientific evidence supports that there’s actually another essential fatty acid our bodies need, in addition to omega-3 and omega-6, that is a saturated fat.†

Even-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids

Even-chain fatty acids are a type of saturated fat found in full-fat dairy products, high-fat meat and meat products like lard, and some plant oils like coconut oil. These are the saturated fats your doctor warned you about. Higher even-chain saturated fatty acids (like C16:0) have been associated with negative health effects. 

People with higher even-chain saturated fatty acid levels have a higher risk of:

  • Inflammation
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

Based on these studies, it may be best to avoid these fats. Excessive amounts of these fats don’t appear to deliver benefits to your body that outweigh the negative impact they can have on your health.

Odd-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids

A growing body of science supports that odd-chain saturated fatty acids, especially C15:0 (also called pentadecanoic acid), are healthy saturated fats.† Unfortunately, when we decided all fat was “bad,” this vital, health-promoting fat got tossed out of our diets right along with unsaturated fat.

Higher C15:0 levels are associated with:*†

  • Balanced immunity
  • Healthy hearts
  • Healthy cholesterol levels
  • Healthy triglyceride levels
  • Healthy metabolism
  • Healthy red blood cells
  • Healthy liver function

Odd-chain saturated fatty acids are mostly found in butter, cheese, and full fat milk. Due to dietary guidelines established in the 1970s that essentially removed whole-fat dairy products from our diets, we haven’t been getting much C15:0 in our diets.

Additionally, the movement to more plant-based milk and meat replacements is driven by a desire for more animal-free products and to veer from cows and cattle because of concerns around methane production. Interestingly, plant-based milk replacements lack C15:0 altogether. 

We didn’t really know how crucial this type of fat was until a veterinarian and her team discovered something surprising while helping to improve the health of two populations of dolphins

That’s right - dolphins. While one population ate a diet that consisted of fish rich in C15:0, the other population didn’t. The population of dolphins eating the C15:0-rich fish developed less age-related conditions compared to the population that ate a diet low in C15:0.†

This led the team to wonder if the presence of C15:0 in the human diet would have the same impact. 

It now appears that it does. 

A growing body of research supports that a diet rich in C15:0 can promote overall health in people, beginning at the cellular level.*† C15:0 can help you age healthfully in a way that gives your cells a fighting chance to stay functioning properly longer.*†

How It Works

C15:0 is considered an essential fatty acid that repairs cells and reverses cellular aging by:

  • Strengthening cell membranes. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes to fortify them, increasing cellular strength by 80%.

  • Clearing damaged cells. Some cells lose function but never die. This leads to inflammation in the body. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps clear out these damaged cells.

  • Regulating inflammatory response. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers proinflammatory cytokines, a key driver in aging.

  • Helping our mitochondria. C15:0 repairs and restores mitochondrial function, increasing our cells’ energy output and decreasing harmful ROS by 45%. In one study, C15:0 was shown to increase ATP levels in cells by 350%.

  • Restoring whole body homeostasis. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps regulate functions like glucose uptake and even calms our immune systems.

  • Activating PPAR receptors. By activating these receptors, C15:0 is able to provide even more health benefits, supporting metabolic health, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, liver health, and even improving mood and deepening sleep. 

With the mission to improve global health by bringing C15:0 back into our diets, fatty15 was developed. 

Fatty15 is a pure, vegan-friendly powder that doesn't smell or taste, requires a much smaller dose than omega-3s, can be poured into your beverage (ie. coffee, tea, etc), and unlike omega-3, doesn't lead to gastrointestinal upset, belching, or the dreaded fish breath.

Fatty15 is the first and only pure powder C15:0 supplement available to help give your body the odd-chain fatty acid it needs without consuming full-fat dairy that contains more of the bad even-chain saturated fats. Fatty15 is a once-a-day capsule with one single ingredient, FA15™, the vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, award-winning, pure powder form of C15:0, to give you exactly what your body needs and nothing it doesn’t.

Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

Buy Now

Science supports that C15:0 is the first essential fatty acid to be discovered since the omegas nearly 90 years ago. Fatty15 contains the pure C15:0 that helps keep our cells healthy and functioning properly. In addition to being mindful of eating a healthy diet, taking fatty15 can give you more control over your health and wellness and help support healthy aging.*† The future of essential fatty acids is here — try fatty15 today.









Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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