Critics have claimed that sea buckthorn oil is not a good source of Omega 7 because of its palmitic acid content. We are going to show why the argument itself is incorrect and why sea buckthorn is a safe source for Omega 7.
Critics have gone as far to say that sea buckthorn oil could cause inflammation due to its palmitic acid content.
What is Palmitic Acid?
PA is the most common saturated fatty acid accounting for 20–30% of total fatty acids in the human body. Our bodies contain a lot of palmitic acid, and it’s found in vegetable oils and animal fat.
Human breast milk has high amounts of palmitic acid, olive oil has it, and dairy products do too. It’s found in MANY places where other fatty acids exist. Sea buckthorn oil also contains palmitic acid, along with a host of other fatty acids.
Why the Negative Press on Palmitic Acid?
Research on palmitic acid showed that high amounts could cause inflammation in the human body.
Companies specializing in Omega 7 supplements made from fish oil took this bit of information and ran with it- claiming that isolated omega 7 (from fish) was the safest source and that sea buckthorn wasn’t just a bad source of omega 7- it could even be bad for health.
But they left out some VERY important details which has led to a lot of confusion about palmitic acid and sea buckthorn oil.
The TRUTH about Palmitic Acid
While studies show that concentrated amounts of palmitic acid may lead to inflammation in the body, they do not show what happens when palmitic acid is consumed in food or supplement form under everyday circumstances.
The palmitic that is naturally found in sea buckthorn, human breast milk, or olive oil is nothing like the concentrated, high amounts of palmitic acid that is used in lab testing.
If you were to get an isolated, concentrated amount of palmitic acid into your body somehow, sure, it could probably do some damage as reflected in the research.
Even so, research also shows that PA may accumulate in the body over time- which again- could cause issues.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Palmitic Acid Build up Not Effected by Diet Alone
Under normal circumstances, someone who eats palmitic acid in olive oil, dairy products, or sea buckthorn oil will not have negative effects simply because palmitic acid is being consumed.
In fact research shows that “changes in the intake of palmitic do not significantly influence its tissue concentration(Innis and Dyer, 1997; Song et al., 2017)”.
Researchers now believe that the health problems associated with palmitic acid and saturated fats occur because of other factors related to diet and physical activity.
Healthy Habits have Greater Effect on Palmitic Acid Levels
High carbohydrate intake, unbalanced intake of omega 6, and a sedentary lifestyle seem to cause a buildup of palmitic acid in the body.
Without these key factors, the body literally converts palmitic acid into Omega 7 or Oleic acid Omega 9.
In this scenario, there is no chance for palmitic acid to buildup- because, in the words of the researchers,
“PA accumulation is prevented by enhanced delta 9 desaturation to omega 7 (16:1n−7, POA) and/or elongation to stearic acid (SA) and further delta 9 desaturation to oleic acid (18:1, OA)”
What Really Causes Palmitic Acid Problems
To summarize what we’ve just learned:
1) Palmitic acid does not cause negative effects simply because it’s being consumed.
2) The human body processes palmitic acid into other fatty acids.
3)Health problems associated with palmitic acid are most likely caused by an unbalanced diet that’s high in processed carbohydrates, high in saturated fat, and a sedentary lifestyle because under those circumstances, the body isn’t able to do its normal job of processing palmitic acid as usual.
Omega 7 and Metabolic Health- Is Sea Buckthorn Worth the “Risk”?
One of the reasons that the debate over the safety of palmitic acid is so important when it comes to sea buckthorn oil, is that sea buckthorn berry oil is the best source for omega 7 on the planet.
Sea buckthorn berry oil has more omega 7 than any other plant source and far more than the small amounts found in fish. The oils that come from sea buckthorn are so rich in nutrition that they have many health and wellness applications- but one of the top benefits of sea buckthorn is indeed omega 7 itself.
Omega 7 Benefits
Metabolic health, especially as it’s related to heart health is one of the key areas that researchers now think may benefit from omega 7 supplementation.
The heart health benefits associated omega 7 are primarily from its inflammation fighting properties.
Omega 7 on its own is thought to support healthy cholesterol levels, help keep inflammation in control throughout the body and heart and may even regulate the product of fat in the body.
Healthy Heart and Blood Glucose Benefits
Omega 7 is also thought to support healthy blood sugar levels and the body’s ability to use glucose from the blood for energy.
The way that omega 7 supports the body in these different areas- inflammation, healthy blood sugar, and healthy blood cholesterol, are what makes researchers believe that it can be helpful for metabolic health or even to fight metabolic syndrome.
Fish vs Sea Buckthorn Oil
To create an omega 7 fish supplement, a large quantity of fish must be highly processed (usually using harsh processing methods) then isolated (another harsh chemical process).
All of the work (and waste) of this process is to produce a supplement that has a good level of omega 7- but nothing else. In most cases, the ONLY benefit you get from this kind of supplement is omega 7.
While omega 7 on its own is great, omega 7 that comes from natural sources like sea buckthorn berry oil has far more benefits than fish oil supplements.
Extra Benefits from Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil
When it comes to all the aforementioned benefits of omega 7 for metabolic health, sea buckthorn oil is the superior source because it can support the body with its complex network of antioxidants and fatty acids.
Sea buckthorn oil has a full range of fatty acids including omega 7 that support the body’s healthy inflammation response. Sea buckthorn oil even contains superoxide dismutase which is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet.
Sea buckthorn oils are excellent for supporting the body as it’s related to metabolic health but also have many more benefits.
Not only is sea buckthorn oil the better source for omega 7 because of its other health supporting and inflammation regulating benefits, it’s a much cleaner and sustainable source than fish oil.
A Healthy Choice, even with Palmitic Acid
High quality sea buckthorn oil supplements are the best way to get all of the benefits of Omega 7. Pure sea buckthorn oil products don’t need to be processed as harshly, and they retain a lot more nutritional benefits that your body can use.
Omega 7 from plant-based source is endlessly renewable, with the plants themselves even being beneficial to soil.
It’s hard to compare omega 7 from fish oil to omega 7 from sea buckthorn, because the fish oil source is so lacking when it comes to nutrition.
Not only does fish oil have a bad track record when it comes to sustainability, the oil itself tends to go bad very fast on the shelf. The high level of rancidity in fish oil is from the harsh processing that we discussed.
The isolated omega doesn’t have all the other fatty acids and antioxidants that normally keep it fresh. When you get a bad taste in your mouth after taking fish oil, it’s probably because it’s rancid.
Sea Buckthorn is Safe
Sea buckthorn berry oil is one of the few plant sources of omega 7 and it also offers omega 3, 6 & 9 in perfectly balanced amounts.
When we make supplements from sea buckthorn oil, we don’t need to remove the palmitic acid because it’s just one part of the complex fatty acids, antioxidants and other bioactive nutrients naturally occurring in the oil.
There is still more work to be done in order to understand how polysaturated fats work in our bodies, and certainly more research to be done on sea buckthorn oil too.
Still, it makes sense that an unbalanced diet and sedentary lifestyle could lead to health problems.
Palmitic acid in and of itself is not something you should be afraid of- so don’t worry! Instead, focus on staying active and eating a diet consisting of whole foods and balanced fatty acids.
Carta, G., Murru, E., Banni, S., & Manca, C. (2017). Palmitic Acid: Physiological Role, Metabolism and Nutritional Implications. Frontiers in Physiology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00902
Agostoni, C., Moreno, L., & Shamir, R. (2015). Palmitic Acid and Health: Introduction. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 56(12), 1941-1942. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2015.1017435
Solà Marsiñach, M., & Cuenca, A. (2019). The impact of sea buckthorn oil fatty acids on human health. Lipids in Health and Disease, 18(1). doi: 10.1186/s12944-019-1065-9
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