Omega-7 – The Amazing Essential Fatty Acid
When you hear about omega fatty acids, omega-3 probably comes to mind. But there are a range of other omega fatty acids which are just as necessary. And one especially, omega-7, is the focus of this Terry Talks Nutrition®.
Omega-7 from Sea Buckthorn Berry
Omega-7 is found in just a few foods, including fish and nuts. However, one of the richest sources of this rare fatty acid is the berry of the sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) plant.
In fact, the pearl-shaped berry is commonly referred to as a “nutrient bomb” and contains more than 200 bioactive compounds including natural vitamins, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and plant sterols.
It is important to know that omega-7 is found only in the pulp of the sea buckthorn berry. Oil from the seed alone has no omega-7. And that is why I recommend using both seed oil and pulp extract for the full benefits of the plant. Environmentally-friendly, solvent free, supercritical CO2 technology is the best extraction method for sea buckthorn, as it yields a potent extract without using toxic solvents.
Now contrast this with the “purified omega-7” fatty acids from extremely processed, refined, and unstable fish oil. Not only are you getting a much more pro-inflammatory, pro-oxidative supplement with these fish oil products, you’re getting less omega-7 per dose than you would in a complete sea buckthorn oil product.
Protects the Heart and Cardiovascular System
The effect of sea buckthorn oil on cardiovascular health has been widely studied. The results demonstrate the ability of sea buckthorn oil to improve blood lipid profiles and reduce risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Sea buckthorn oil from berry and seed increases the level of good cholesterol, reduces the harmful effects of bad cholesterol and acts on platelet aggregation to prevent the formation of harmful blood clots. Sea buckthorn oil also inhibits the inflammation associated with cardiovascular diseases.
Aside from improving cholesterol profiles, sea buckthorn improves microcirculation – the tiny capillaries and blood vessels that especially affect the eyes, brain, and skin.
Microcirculation disorders are a key issue in a wide range of health problems, including inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Reduced microcirculation is also an important factor in the cause of skin problems such as couperose and cellulite. Couperose is brought about by a disorder of facial circulation, or to be precise, the enlargement of small blood vessels. The enlarged blood vessels are visible through skin as a redness and thin reddish or bluish lines. You’ll see couperose in cases of thin, dry and delicate skin with capillaries located close to the skin surface. It is more frequently found in women, and oxidative stress is often the major cause.
Scientific studies using a combination of supercritical CO2-extracted sea buckthorn berry and seed oil have shown potential to improve microcirculation. That’s not only due to the omega-7 and other omega fatty acids, but also because of the amazing variety of nutrients found in the complete berry and seed extract, including vitamin E, vitamin C, and many others.
Makes Skin Look Younger
The aging process considerably alters both the structure and the mechanical properties of skin. Aged skin is less extendable and less elastic than younger skin. Fine lines and wrinkles are characteristic signs of age, and especially photo-aged skin. Wrinkle formation is due to the decrease of elasticity, photo-aging and free radical attack on the skin. But skin aging doesn’t necessarily have to do with how old you are. It can be accelerated by poor nutrition, lack of sleep, excessive sun exposure, environmental toxins, stress, or a combination of any or all of them.
Sea buckthorn oil protects skin from oxidative damage and restores skin moisture and elasticity. It is also an excellent source of essential nutrients for regulating moisture and sensitivity of skin.
In a clinical study, healthy women with an average age of 61 years took sea buckthorn oil (known as SBA24®) or a placebo for three months. Those using sea buckthorn saw a 49% improvement in skin moisture (33% in just one month!) and a 9.2% improvement in wrinkle depth – that is, skin wrinkles were less severe. So, the extra hydration that sea buckthorn brings actually works to “smooth out” the skin. This same study also showed a 26% improvement in skin elasticity. Essentially, sea buckthorn oil slows down the aging process of the skin. It is also the perfect natural solution for anyone dealing with atopic eczema or dermatitis, and promotes wound healing, too.
Heals and Soothes Stomach and Intestinal Tract
Sea buckthorn oil has healing properties for the mucous membranes throughout the body, including in the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This makes it extremely valuable for anyone dealing with ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Ulcers can be caused by H. pylori bacteria or by using prescription and over-the-counter pain medication, including aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or “NSAIDs”.
Sea buckthorn oil helps accelerate the healing of damaged tissue. In experimental tests, sea buckthorn oil provided equal – or better – protection against ulcers than the prescription drug cimetidine (a brand name is Tagamet®), which is used to lower stomach acid production. In further tests, the oil from this berry and seed extract also helped heal existing gastric ulcers faster.
Stops Sjögren’s Syndrome
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and dryness in the mouth, tear glands, lining of the bronchial airways, and vagina. Sjögren’s syndrome can also be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma. Not surprisingly, it is more common in families with members experiencing autoimmune illnesses.
About 90% of patients with Sjögren’s syndrome are female. The vaginal dryness associated with the condition causes pain during intercourse, as well as recurrent vaginal infections. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study, patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome used either sea buckthorn oil (SBA24®) or a placebo for three months. Those in the sea buckthorn group showed greater improvement in vaginal mucosa and overall symptom relief, including burning, itching, pain, secretion, and dryness – including dry eyes and mouth.
Sea buckthorn oil from the berry and seed has traditionally been used topically on the skin for burns, scalds, wounds, and dermatitis. A clinically studied berry and seed oil extract has been shown to improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and reduce inflammation when it was applied to the skin. Taken internally, it also showed some analgesic (pain-relieving) effects.
Relieves Dry Eyes
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study included one hundred men and women aged 20 to 75 who were experiencing dry eye symptoms. Not surprisingly, half of them used contact lenses. Contact lenses can be a major contributing factor to dry eyes and fatigue.
For three months, half of the participants used a supercritical CO2 sea buckthorn extract (SBA24®), in morning and evening doses. Participants kept a logbook of symptoms throughout the study. Clinical tests, including eye exams and fatty acid analysis of the tear film, were also conducted.
The redness and burning sensations in the sea buckthorn group were lower versus the placebo group, and in similar studies, those using sea buckthorn also had a much better fatty acid composition of their tear film than those in the placebo groups.
So why does sea buckthorn work so well for dry eyes? The researchers believe that the reduction of moisture creates inflammation, which tends to dry out the eyes – and keep them dry. Other research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the inflammation, and that omega-3 and omega-6 have a combined effect of increasing tear secretion while reducing inflammation. Fatty acids – and a healthy fatty acid balance – also help build the composition of tear film produced by the meibomian glands at the edges of the eyelids. The lipid (or fat) content of that film is what helps prevent water and moisture loss from the eyes, so it’s an important factor in dry eye syndrome and other conditions of eye dryness. In fact, there is a reported difference in the fatty acid composition in the tears of people with healthy eyes versus those suffering from dry eyes.
The Best Sea Buckthorn
When you look for a sea buckthorn extract, make sure it is rich in many nutrients, including omega-7, but also omega 3, 6, and 9. Plus, a complete sea buckthorn oil extract from both the berry and seeds should include beneficial phytosterols, tocopherols and carotenoids, just like the material used in the clinical studies. I believe environmentally-friendly, solvent-free supercritical CO2 extraction technology is the best extraction method for sea buckthorn. That way, you know you’re getting the same type of sea buckthorn oil that has been clinically tested.
Based on scientific studies, to get optimal benefits, make sure you are taking 500-2,000 mg of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) Oil that has been extracted using supercritical CO² extraction technology and contains both berry and seed oils.