When people consider optimizing their levels of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, it may be fair to say that most of them do not think about marmots instead of multivitamins. However, recent research has shown that the small, groundhog-like mammal may hold at least one key to the ways that the body processes fatty acids.
A study published in the journal PLoS ONE announced that researchers had found a peculiar mechanism in marmot’s cell walls. The creature, which hibernates each winter, was found to dramatically increase the omega-6 levels in the outer layers of its cells just before going to ground for the winter.
This effect was independent of any change in diet, which scientists said indicates that omega-6 concentrations in the human body may depend on more than diet, too. The team also noted that after hibernation, marmots’ cells lose their high omega-6 count just as fast, which added to the strength of the theory.
The team concluded that further research should be done into the mechanisms by which humans absorb polyunsaturated fats.
For humans, omega-6 fatty acids tend to have negative health effects in large concentrations, while omega-3s have benefits. Taking a dietary supplement may keep the balance of fatty acids tipped toward omega-3s.