Column #263

From all over the world thousands of scientists are studying how and why Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) influence human health. There is considerable agreement that Omega-3 EFAs are not only essential for life, but they also play a very important role in immunity.

I’ve provided many peer-reviewed reports that explain the benefits of Omega-3. Some are more than 20 years old and they underscore just how many years this critical information has been around. But to this day it’s mostly ignored or misunderstood by the masses and even medical doctors. Since it doesn’t seem to catch on, some people may be thinking that the Omega-3 story is just another worn out marketing gimmick and it’s time to move on. They couldn’t be more mistaken.

Essential nutrients never go out of style. Without them animal life does not exist. So, let me introduce a couple of recent studies to prove that the reasons for consuming Omega-3 foods have only increased in number. They are especially relevant now that we are experiencing a COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ll start by commenting on “Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells” by Saray Gutiérrez et. al. This 2019 report summarizes what is known regarding Omega-3 and immunity plus it suggests additional areas of study. Just like in all other sciences, when it comes to Omega-3 more is being learned every day and its importance in the diet is only growing greater.1

Generally speaking, immune systems defend against pathogens such as viruses or bacteria. There are two main categories: innate and adaptive. The innate immune system is the first line of defense and is generally fast but with limited specificity. The adaptive immune system has a higher level of specificity, but its activation is delayed because it must develop a memory against pathogens that are confronted for the first time. Then its speed and efficiency are greatly enhanced during a second encounter.

Coordination and regulation of the different immune cells are of crucial importance. For this to occur a healthy and balanced diet is essential for every part of our organism to function correctly, including the immune system. Some dietary nutrients such as Vitamin D, zinc, and essential fatty acids have powerful immune-regulatory properties.2 3

In Saray Gutiérrez’s report there is a discussion regarding Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation being beneficial in dealing with cases where the immune system misfires. A misfiring immune system can attack parts of the body rather than a pathogen. That’s what is behind the many autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune hepatitis (a liver ailment) and asthma (a  bronchial disorder) both of which is associated with many COVID-19 deaths.

There are three ways of quantifying omega-3 enrichment of the diet: the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio, the Omega-3 index, and the PUFA balance. These measures are used to improve the evaluation of Omega-3 supplementation in humans and animal models.4 5 6

Here’s another interesting 2019 peer-reviewed study: “Nutritional Modulation of Immune Function Analysis of Evidence Mechanisms and Clinical Relevance” by Dayong Wu et. al. Its opening paragraph sets the stage.7

“It is well established that the nutritional deficiency or inadequacy can impair immune functions. Growing evidence suggests that for certain nutrients increased intakes above currently recommended levels may help optimize immune functions including improving defense function and thus resistance to infection, while maintaining tolerance.”

Since Hydroxychloroquine and zinc are being used to treat COVID-19, I think it’s interesting that the authors of this study state that: “This review will examine the data representing the research on prominent intervention agents Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), micronutrients (zinc, vitamins D and E), and functional foods including probiotics and tea components for their immunological effects, working mechanisms, and clinical relevance.”8

In a 2017 report, “Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Ameliorate Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmunity” by Xinyun Bi, et. al., there is this blockbuster conclusion: “The study described here suggested the clinical potential of gene therapy or nutritional supplementation of Omega-3 PUFAs—EPA and DHA in particular—in preventing and reversing the development of autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes.”9

Need I mention that diabetics are particularly vulnerable to severe reactions and even death from COVID-19 infections?

The peer-reviewed reports I’ve introduced here have numerous footnotes. Many of them are available online. What the sheer number of peer-reviewed studies indicate is that when it comes to the importance of Omega-3 EFAs on body function, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. And the proper quantity of Omega-3 EFAs is based on their balance with Omega-6 EFAs. As with many things in life, balance is critical.

Animal bodies obtain essential nutrients by eating, breathing, and absorption. For instance, zinc and vitamin E are found in many foods with meats being one of the best sources. Vitamin D comes from sunlight (outdoor activities and beaches), but is also in meats because its essential for animal life. Omega-3 EFAs have many sources, but many of them (grains, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and grain-fed meats) have highly skewed Omega-6 to Omega-3 balances. Grass-fed and Omega-3 meats, seafood, and green leafy vegetables and other selected vegetables have perfect balances for optimizing human health.10 11

Omega-3 EFA research has been ongoing for more than 40 years with a lot of agreement from many credible scientists. Ignore its many findings at your own peril.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don’t miss these links for additional reading:

1. Effects of Acids Omega-3 Fatty on Immune Cells by Saray Gutiérrez, Sara L Svahn, and Maria E Johansson from The National Center for Biotechnology Information

2. Vitamin D Study Sheds Light on Immune System Effects Source: University of Edinburgh from Science Daily

3. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function by Inga Wessels, Martina Maywald, and Lothar Rink

4. Get Your Own Omega-3 Blood Test and use slanker as a code for a discount

5. Interpreting Omega-3 Blood Tests by Ted Slanker

6. Ted Slanker’s Omega-3 Blood Test

7. Nutritional Modulation of Immune Function Analysis of Evidence Mechanisms and Clinical Relevance by Dayong Wu, Erin D. Lewis, Munyong Pae, and Simin Nikbin Meydani

8. Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and Zinc: Proposed Treatment for Covid-19 Infections from Las Colinas Pharmacy

9. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Ameliorate Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmunity by Xinyun Bi, Xiaoxi Li, Allan Zijian Zhao

10. The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids by A.P. Simopoulos

11. Food Analysis: EFA, Protein to Fat, Net Carbs, Sugar, and Nutrient Load by Ted Slanker