11 Health Benefits of Adequate Omega 3 Intake

    11 Health Benefits of Adequate Omega 3 Intake

    We often hear about omega-3 supplements and even see a variety of brands sold online. But what’s the reason behind its popularity?

    Omega-3 is one of the good fats that reduce the risk of depression, cardiovascular disease, dementia and arthritis. However, the body cannot produce omega-3 on its own. That’s why we need to get our fill through diet and nutrition.

    What Is Omega-3?

    Omega-3 is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid made up of 3 elements, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in a linear structure. It is considered an essential element in the formation of many body structures, such as nerve cells and several biologically active compounds. There are many types of omega 3 fatty acids, but the three most common are Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Alpha lipoic acid (ALA).

    Health Benefits of Omega-3

    1. It Helps Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases

    Heart attack and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the world. Decades ago, researchers observed that people who ate a lot of fish had lower rates of cardiovascular disease than the general population. Later, the scientists discovered it was due to the effects of omega-3 from fish.

    Experts believe omega-3 helps in the following aspects:

    • Triglycerides: Fish oil helps reduce triglyceride levels in the body.
    • Blood Pressure: The omega-3 in fish oil might help lower blood pressure.
    • Cholesterol: Omega-3 fatty acids help increase HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
    • Blood Clotting: It can keep blood platelets from clumping. This helps prevent the formation of blood clots that are harmful to the heart.
    • Atherosclerotic Plaques: Fish oil helps the arteries function normally and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
    • Inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the production of certain heart-damaging substances released during the fight against inflammation.

    2. It Might Help Reduce Liver Fat

    Fatty liver disease is a common condition. It increases the risk of obesity, and is a major cause of chronic liver disease. According to experts, adequate levels of omega-3 reduce the amount of fat in the liver and improve inflammation in subjects with non-alcohol related diseases.

    3. It Might Help Improve Sleep Quality

    Studies show that lack of sleep leads to many diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Did you know that omega-3 deficiency causes insomnia in children and sleep apnea in adults?

    Reports say getting sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can prolong sleep as well as increase sleep quality in both children and adults.

    4. It Might Boost Skin Health

    DHA is one of the important components of the skin. It is responsible for building cell membranes and plays an important role in skin nourishment. DHA also controls skin moisture and sebum, slows down the signs of aging, and prevents hyperkeratosis of hair follicles, which result in small red bumps.

    The good news is, omega-3 helps in the production of DHA.

    5. It Might Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Regular consumption of omega-3 fish oil can relieve muscle stiffness and joint pain. Additionally, it enhances the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

    6. It May Help With Mental Health Conditions

    Did you know that there are fewer cases of depression in countries where many people have high dietary intake of omega-3? Experts believe fish oil prevents depression and helps reduce depressive symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.

    Many studies also show that getting enough omega-3 can reduce mood swings and relapse in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In addition, taking fish oil also helps reduce violent behaviors.

    7. It Supports Brain Development and Vision

    DHA makes up a quarter of the brain’s fat component. DHA is an important nutrient that helps with vision and nerve development in babies. That’s why you can see milk advertisements boasting about their products containing DHA.

    Adequate DHA in the body reduces the risk of macular degeneration, one of the main causes of blindness and permanent eye damage.

    8. It Might Help with ADHD

    Some studies show that fish oil can reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. At the same time, the supplement may improve mental abilities, such as thinking, memory, acquisition, etc. in some children. However, experts agree we need further studies and highlight that fish oil should not be a substitute to mainstream ADHD drugs.

    9. It May Help Treat Alzheimer Disease

    Some studies suggest that fish oil help protect the brain from Alzheimer disease and dementia. Also, fish oil also has a positive effect in gradually improving memory loss caused by aging.

    10. It Helps Fight Autoimmune Diseases

    An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakes healthy cells in the body for foreign invaders and begins to attack them. Type 1 diabetes is a prime example of an autoimmune disease: it causes the immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

    Many studies show that getting an adequate amount of omega-3 during the first year of life is essential in reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

    Likewise, fish oil may also help treat lupus (a dangerous systemic scarlet fever), rheumatism, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease (chronic inflammatory bowel disease) and psoriasis.

    11. It Can Help with Cancer Prevention

    Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Fish oil has long been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Some studies show that people who take a lot of fish oil can reduce their risk of bowel cancer by up to 55%.

    Furthermore, many other investigations show that taking fish oil can also reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

    Best Sources of Omega-3

    Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in many different foods. The types found in fish are called DHA and EPA. These are the two most beneficial for health. Another form, called ALA, is found in vegetable oils, flaxseeds, walnuts, and dark green vegetables like spinach. The body can also convert small amounts of ALA into EPA and DHA.

    The best food source of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, is fish. Some types of fish contain more of this substance than others, including salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, tuna. As recommended by the American Heart Association, we should eat fish at least twice a week.

    The association also recommends taking 1 gram of EPA along with DHA per day for people with heart disease. Eating fatty fish is best, but you can also take fish oil capsules.

    omega 3

    Reminders When Supplementing With Omega-3

    Although beneficial for health, too little or too much omega-3 is not good. So, you need to pay special attention to dosing.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), we should eat fish at least twice a week to ensure the body has enough DHA. Most organizations recommend a minimum of 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA per day for healthy adults. For pregnant women, they recommend 500 mg per day throughout the pregnancy. Still, this amount can increase towards the end of the pregnancy because this is the time when the fetus needs omega-3 for brain and nerve formation.

    Some people with specific health conditions will have different intake requirements than the average person. Patients with coronary artery disease should take 1000 mg of omega 3 per day. The dose in patients with high triglycerides is between 2000 and 4000 mg of EPA and DHA per day.

    Should You Take Omega-3 Pills?

    The best way to know whether or not you need fish oil supplements is to consult your doctor.

    Based on your diet and health condition, they will assess whether you’re in need of more omega-3s. Never use any supplement to treat your health concern, and never substitute it for your current medications.

    Another reason why it’s important to consult your doctor first is because some people may not tolerate fish oil well. For instance, people with gastrointestinal issues may experience bloating. Meanwhile, pregnant women should steer clear of fish oil supplements containing heavy metals.

    Once your doctor determines you will benefit from supplementation, then he or she will also help you choose the best kind of fish oil supplement.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Who Needs Omega-3s? https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-fish-oil/art-20364810, Accessed December 19, 2021

    Omega-3 in fish: How eating fish helps your heart, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/omega-3/art-20045614, Accessed December 19, 2021

    What You Need to Know About Omega-3s, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/omega-3-fats-and-your-heart, Accessed December 19, 2021

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution, https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/omega-3-rich-foods-good-for-your-heart, Accessed December 19, 2021

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/, Accessed December 19, 2021

    Fish Oil, https://www.drugs.com/fish_oil.html, Accessed December 19, 2021

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    Written by Hello Bacsi Updated Apr 18
    Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen