Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for overall health. Since omega-3 are essential fatty acids, which the body doesn’t produce on its own, they must be regularly taken from food and supplements.

These essential fatty acids are well-known for their role in lowering the risk of heart disease. They also benefit the body by helping with foetal development, skin health, vision and weight management.

What are omega-3 fatty acids? 

The essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, cannot be produced by the body on their own and must be obtained through diet. 

The most common source of omega-3s is seafood, particularly oily fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends consuming at least two servings of oily fish every week. 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics mentions other omega-3-rich food sources like nuts, seeds and vegetable oils for individuals who don’t frequently eat seafood. 

Omega-3 supplements are another quick and effective option for those who don’t get adequate omega-3 fatty acids from their diet.

Types of omega-3 fatty acids 

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-linolenic acid is a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid. This indicates that to synthesise it, the body must first convert it into EPA and DHA with longer chains. 

Only around 10% of the ALA we consume is transformed by this mechanism into the long-chain form that the body requires (the percentage is slightly higher for women).

Green, leafy vegetables, flaxseeds, chia seeds, canola, walnuts and soybean oils contain this plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. 

Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA)

ETA has four rather than five bonds and 20 carbons, like EPA. It is abundantly present in green-lipped mussel and roe oil. 

Eicosatetraenoic acid can reduce the body’s production of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (ARA) in addition to being anti-inflammatory like the other omega-3s. ETA redirects the enzyme that usually produces ARA so that it produces EPA instead.

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)

Oily fish, algal oil, and krill oil contain EPA, a 20-carbon fatty acid. This molecule can be created by the body in its original form. The body requires large amounts of EPA and DHA to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

The omega-3 fish oil supplements, krill oil, algal oil and fatty fish contain this 22-carbon compound. When a person consumes more DHA, the body converts some DHA molecules back to EPA to balance the levels.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids 

Certain foods naturally contain omega-3s, while others are enriched with fatty acids. 

One can eat certain foods to get enough omega-3s, including the following,

  • Nuts and seeds (such as chia seeds, flaxseed and walnuts)
  • Seafood, including fish (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines)
  • Plant oils (such as soybean oil, flaxseed oil and canola oil)
  • Fortified foods (such as yoghurt, juices, milk, soy beverages and infant formulas).

Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids 

Reduces inflammation 

Inflammation is the immune system’s response to infections or injury to the body. While inflammation is essential for healing, it can persist for a long time, even in the absence of diseases. 

This is known as chronic inflammation. There is a connection between chronic inflammation and the onset of many chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease

According to studies, increasing omega-3 intake lowers inflammation and reduces the risk of getting some chronic conditions.

Cancer prevention 

People consuming more omega-3-rich foods and nutritional supplements may have a lower risk of developing breast and colorectal cancer. 

However, a significant clinical investigation revealed that taking omega-3 supplements did not lower the risk of colorectal, breast or prostate cancers or the risk of cancer in general. Additional clinical trials are, however, essential.

Improves bone health 

Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen bones and enhance joint health. A pilot trial on calcium-deficient women revealed that the combination of EPA and calcium supplements strengthened bones more than calcium supplements alone. This finding implies that omega-3 fatty acids are good for bone health. 

Studies have also demonstrated how beneficial omega-3 dietary supplements are in reducing arthritis symptoms. Because arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory characteristics that can help reduce pain and stiffness.

Infant health and development 

Eating 1 to 2 servings of fish and other seafood every week during pregnancy and lactation may benefit the health of the unborn child. 

Choosing fish with higher EPA and DHA levels and lower mercury levels is important. Trout, herring, sardines and salmon are a few examples. 

Whether EPA and DHA-containing dietary supplements impact a baby’s health or development during pregnancy or lactation is unknown. However, according to some research, taking these supplements may extend a baby’s gestation period and slightly raise the child’s weight at delivery. DHA appears in breast milk. DHA is also present in most newborn formulae sold commercially.

Fights depression and anxiety 

Regularly consuming adequate omega-3 fatty acids has a lower risk of developing depression. Many studies have shown that, even in double-blinded, randomised, controlled trials, people who exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety frequently experience improvements after including an omega-3 supplement in their daily routines. 

Omega-3 supplements have been shown to be helpful in treating the symptoms of depression in at least one research comparing them to a popular depression drug.

Improves heart health 

One of the most lauded benefits of omega-3s is their ability to reduce risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of mortality in the world. According to studies, these diseases are less common in individuals who consume a diet high in fish.

Boosts eye health 

The retina, the eye’s innermost layer of tissue, primarily comprises DHA. DHA may assist in preventing macular degeneration in adult eyes. 

Blurred vision can develop over time as a result of macular degeneration, which is a vision change. Omega-3 dietary intake and eye health are positively correlated, which may indicate that omega-3s have preventive effects against the pathophysiology of eye disorders.

Lowers triglycerides

The American Heart Association acknowledges that individuals with high triglycerides, a significant risk factor for heart disease, usually require the maximum amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Taking omega-3 supplements has been linked to reducing triglyceride levels in patients with or without co-morbidities.

Protects against autoimmune disease 

Our immune system defends us against diseases by targeting foreign cells. It occasionally mistakes the normal cells for cancerous ones and starts to kill them. Some autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 Diabetes, are caused by hereditary factors, although the specific cause is unknown. 

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids in early childhood may prevent a person from developing autoimmune disorders like Diabetes.

Healthy skin

Omega-3 fatty acids can help the skin maintain its youthful appearance from the inside out. The skin benefits from DHA and EPA because they control oil production and prevent natural ageing.

According to several research, omega-3 fatty acids protect against inflammatory skin diseases like acne by reducing their risk.

Dosage of omega-3 fatty acids 

EPA and DHA do not have any official dosage recommendations. The body must get ALA from food sources as it cannot produce it on its own. According to current recommendations, men should consume 1.6 grammes of ALA omega-3 per day, while women should consume 1.1 grammes.

Several health groups have published their own recommendations for consuming omega-3s. The most common daily amounts of combined EPA and DHA are between 250 and 500 mg. However, studies have shown that taking greater doses of up to 5,000 mg daily is safe, with little chance of experiencing negative side effects.

Omega-3 fatty acids Deficiency 

Most individuals don’t consume enough of these fats, making omega-3 deficiency widespread. Western diets are high in omega-6s, but too much of these fats can lead to numerous inflammation-related issues. Omega-6 to omega-3 foods should be consumed in an ideal ratio of nearly equal to 2:1.

Omega-3 deficiency can cause,

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Cognitive decline
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • High cholesterol and heart disease risk
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Depression and other mental disorders
  • Poor brain development.


Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) fall under this category.

They are referred to as essential fatty acids since our bodies are unable to produce them, and we must obtain them from food. Some foods can be good sources of omega-3. 

Seafood like mackerel, salmon, and herring are rich in omega-3. Some excellent meat-free options include walnuts, soybeans, chia and flax seeds.


Is it good to take omega-3 every day? 

The consumption of omega-3s has no set upper limit. The FDA has recommended that consumers take no more than 3 g of combined DHA and EPA per day.

Does omega-3 help hair? 

Omega-3 nourishes the skin’s follicles with vital nutrients and proteins. It reduces hair follicle irritation, which can be a major cause of hair loss. They also boost scalp blood flow, which could stimulate hair growth.

What are the side effects of omega-3 fatty acids? 

Omega-3 supplements often have mild side effects. These include digestive symptoms including heartburn, nausea and diarrhoea, as well as unpleasant taste, poor breath, sweat and odour. More long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in the blood have been associated with increased risks of prostate cancer.

Who should not consume omega 3? 

Patients using blood thinners like warfarin should avoid taking fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acid supplements as a result of the increased risk of fatal haemorrhage.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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