Omega 3 for Better Joints, Brain, Heart, and Liver

As a long chain PUFA (Polyunsaturated fatty acids,) Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in all vital organs including blood vessels, lungs, heart, immune system, and endocrine system.

The three types of Omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Over the years researchers have identified key benefits of Omega-3, benefits like:

  • Improved Heart and Brain Health
  • Decreased Liver Fat
  • Lower levels of triglycerides and HDL Cholesterol
  • Better Joint Mobility
  • Lower risk of Mental Disorders

Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Health experts recommend eating fatty fish at least 2 days per week, though most people don’t adhere to this recommendation. So Omega 3 supplementation can be beneficial in the following ways:

Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Effective for Mental Disorders

Both EPA and DHA play a significant role in the CNS (central nervous system).

Effective for Mental Disorders

A major component in the neuronal membrane, DHA has the ability to change the function of receptors in the phospholipid of membrane. Further, EPA plays physiological functions that impact the central and the peripheral nervous systems.

Omega 3 preserves brain function by increasing and maintaining brain structures.[1]

Here are the mental disorders that may be prevented or cured with Omega 3 supplementation.

Depression and Anxiety

Characterized by general lethargy, sadness, and loss of interest in life, depression takes a serious toll on the work and personal life and is a leading cause of disability.

Anxiety fuels constant worrying and nervousness, leading to depression in many cases.

Currently, medicines for depression include:

  • SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor)
  • SNRI (Serotonin and Neropheneprine Reuptake Inhibitor)
  • Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

And for Anxiety, medicines include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressant Drugs
  • Gabapentin (off-label)

Of course several side effects of these medications can be so debilitating that many people stop taking the medication altogether.

With their anti-inflammatory properties, Omega 3 PUFAs can be effective in preventing and treating anxiety and depression.

Growing evidence concludes that Omega-3 PUFA supplementation reduces symptoms of depression.[2] Omega 3 reduces inflammation that occurs when someone suffers from depression. In one study, after omega-3 supplementation, 67% of participants no longer met the criteria for depression.[3]

So Omega 3, which is generally well tolerated, can be used to improve the short term course of depression.[4]

However, as an addition for treatment of mild-moderate depression, EPA had greater efficacy than DHA.[5] In fact, EPA was as effective as Fluoxetine, a common depression medication, in ameliorating effects of depression, although the two were more effective when taken together.[6]

Omega 3 supplements can also reduce anxiety even in healthy young adults.[7]

Summary: Omega 3, especially EPA, can reduce symptoms of mild-moderate depression, and DHA can maintain and improve brain structures.

Slows Down Age Related Mental Decline

Omega 3 may be affective against age related mental decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Omega 3 may be a good option not only for preventing age related mental decline but also for slowing the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. [8]

However, DHA seems to be more effective if it is begun early and used alongside antioxidants.[9]

Summary: Early supplementation with DHA and antioxidants can decrease the likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Controls ADHD Symptoms in Children

Characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and a lack of attention, ADHD can hamper a child’s learning ability and lead to anxiety and depression in later stages of life.

Several researchers have concluded that children with ADHD have an altered metabolism of fatty acids and lower levels of Omega 3 relative to their peers.[10], [11]

Omega 3 supplementation may play a significant role in improving literacy, behaviour, and ADHD symptoms.[12], [13], [14]

Summary: Omega 3 can significantly improve ADHD symptoms such as restlessness and aggressiveness and improve academic performance.

Improves Heart Health

Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. Blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, clots and plaques, and high or low blood pressure negatively impact the health of your heart.

Improves Heart Health

Omega 3 improves triglyceride levels

Supplementing with a high dose of EPA can decrease the levels of triglycerides, the form in which most fats are stored in the body.[16], [17]

In one study, with supplementation of Omega 3, fasting triglycerides decreased significantly in comparison to the placebo group.[18]

Because of its ability to improve triglycerides levels, Omega-3 PUFAs supplementation can help diabetes patients.

Omega 3 decreases Bad Cholesterol and Increases Good Cholesterol

LDL “Bad” cholesterol forms plaques in the blood vessels, which then get blocked over time. HDL “Good” cholesterol, however, prevents the formation of paques by carrying LDL cholesterol back to the liver.

Omega 3 may raise the HDL levels and decrease LDL levels.[19], [20]

HDL levels can be significantly improved by combining Omega-3 supplements and aerobic exercises. [21]

Omega 3 Keeps Arteries Healthy

Omega 3 prevents the formation of harmful blood clots and plaques, both of which can damage the arteries. In low doses of around 1g/day, Omega 3 can suppress abnormal heart rhythms.[22]

Since Omega 3 increases HDL levels, which carry LDL back to the liver, this PUFA stops the formation of plaques and keeps arteries damage free and smooth.

Omega-3 supplementation improves function of endothelial, which is the innermost wall of arteries.[23] Further, this essential fatty acid protects the blood vessel system from damage, especially after meals.[24]

Summary: Omega 3 reduces triglyceride and LDL levels, increases HDL levels, and stops the formation of plaques, keeping arteries and vessels healthy.

Fights Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation leads to serious conditions such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Psoriasis
Fights Chronic Inflammation

A potent anti-inflammatory agent, Omega-3 PUFAs decrease production of cytokines, eicosanoids, and reactive oxygen.[25]

Omega 3 and Autoimmune Diseases

Supplementation of Omega-3 may prevent or ameliorate symptoms of many autoimmune diseases. With antiinflammatory effects of long chain n-3 PUFAs, Omega 3 supplements can reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes [26], [27]

For multiple sclerosis patients, Omega 3 reduces CNS demyelination.[28]

Omega 3 and Fatty Liver

Because of the growing obesity crisis, incidence rate of NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty liver Disease) has increased substantially. Despite being a fat itself, Omega 3 supplementation may reduce liver fat. [29], [30]

Omega 3 and Asthma

Taking Omega 3 supplements may prevent asthma in children. An inverse association exists between fish consumption in pregnant women and development of asthma during childhood in their children.[31], [32]

Omega 3 and Eye Health

The predominant structural fatty acid in retina and CNS, DHA supplementation, along with EPA, can protect the eyes from conditions such as:

  • Chronic Light Exposure
  • Inflammation
  • Aging
  • Ischemia
  • Oxidative Stress

Taking EPA or EPA with DHA can not only improve eye health but also reduce the risk of anti-age related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness.

Summary: Omega 3 supplementation can reduce inflammation and symptoms of various metabolic syndrome such as central obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, etc.

Eases Joint Pain

Omega 3 supplementation is generally recommended for people suffering from inflammatory type arthritis.

Eases Joint Pain

Omega-3 can decrease the requirement of NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs) in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.[33] DHA may be more effective than EPA at decreasing inflammation and offering relief to people suffering from joint pain. [34]

Summary: Omega 3 decreases the requirements of NSAID in RA patients and offers relief from joint pain.

Decreased Risk of Certain Cancers

Taking Omega 3 supplements regularly can decrease the chances of you developing certain cancers.

Increased consumption of Omega 3 PUFAs can reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 55%.[35], [36]

Decreased Risk of Certain Cancers

It may also lower the risk of prostate cancer in men[37] and breast cancer in women. In a study, it was found that when levels of EPA and DHA together were more than that of arachidonic acid, the risk of breast cancer was lower.[38], [39]

Summary: Take Omega 3 supplements to decrease chances of developing certain cancers such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Improves Brain Health during Early Life and Pregnancy

Accounting for 40% of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain, DHA plays an essential role in brain development of infants.

According to Dr. Steven Abrams, although studies can often be contradictory, it is a good idea to keep Omega 3 supplements in there during pregnancy, and these supplements are certainly safe.

Women of childbearing age on average consume 60mg/day of DHA, though experts recommend the intake to be at least 200mg/day.

When pregnant women take long-chain n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy and lactation, their children become better at problem solving and have a higher IQ.[40], [41]

Further, a higher ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 can lead to more inflammation, resulting in exaggerated CNS response and conditions such as ADHD, ASD (autism spectrum disorder), and CP(cerebral palsy) later in life. Taking DHA and NAC therapy (N-acetylcysteine) together can reduce the incidence of these disorders by 75%. [42]

Summary: Taking very-long chain n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy and lactation helps with later mental development of the child. Women of childbearing age should take more than 200mg/d of DHA.

Drug Interactions and Side Effects of Omega 3 Supplements

Side Effects of taking Omega 3 Supplements are rare but may include:

  • Burping
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Change in the sense of taste
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Nausea


If you’re on any of these medications, then consult your healthcare providers before taking omega 3 fatty acids:

  • Warfarin or other anticoagulants
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, in Dutoprol)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Dipyridamole (persantine)
  • Beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin, in Tenoretic)
  • Cilostazol (Pletal)
  • Ticlopidine
  • Labetalol (Trandate)
  • Nadolol (Corgard, in Corzide)
  • Propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL, in Inderide)
  • Diuretics (‘water pills’)
  • Prasugrel (Effient)
  • Estrogen replacement therapy
  • Estrogen-containing contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, rings, and injections)

Caution: Always take health supplements after consulting with your healthcare providers, especially if you take regular medications.

Omega 3 Food Sources

Omega 3 Food Sources

Omega 3 Supplements

Omega 3 Supplements

While ALA is found mainly in plant based sources, EPA and DHA are available from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, cod, and herring.

Omega 3 supplements come in many forms such as:

  • Fish oil
  • Krill Oil
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Algal oil (vegan source)

Recommended Daily Intake of Omega 3

While the reference daily intake of Omega 3 is 250-500mg, we’ve provided the reference daily intake according to different criteria below:

While the reference daily intake of Omega 3 is 250-500mg, we’ve provided the reference daily intake according to different criteria below:

  • RDI of Omega 3 for healthy men: 1,100mg
  • RDI of Omega 3 for women: 1,600mg
  • RDI of Omega 3 for pregnant women: 300mg (EPA + DHA) with 200 mg of it as DHA

Choose the Right Omega 3 Supplement

Multiple choices increase the complexity of selecting the right supplement. However, you’ll find the criteria for choosing the right omega 3 supplement provided below:

  • Strength: It’s not just about the amount of fish oil in a pill. Check the amount of EPA and DHA per serving.
  • Safety: Only purchase supplements from those who provide evidence of safety. Also, ensure that your supplements are free of environmental pollutants such as:

o Furans
o Heavy Metals (lead, mercury, and arsenic)
o PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
o Dioxins

  • Taste and Coating: an enteric coated omega-3 supplement prevents the unpleasant fish oil taste, heartburn, and fishy breath. The contents of the pill are only released after reaching the stomach.

o Tip: Take the pill with food to avoid side effects.

  • Cost and Size: Compare the amount of EPA and DHA per pill.

Conclusion

According to NIH, fish oil is the most consumed supplement in the United States. Taking Omega 3 supplements can improve joint and heart health and reduce the risk of several serious illnesses such as heart disease, mental disorders, and cancer. However, before you purchase a supplement, take note of the amount of EPA and DHA in it. Also, take the supplement regularly.

FAQs

Q.Can Omega 3 help with fat loss and weight decrease?

Ans. Omega 3 reduces triglyceride levels, the form in which most fats are stored in the body. This way, it can help with fat loss.

Q. Why is Omega 3 bad for you?

Ans. Omega 3 isn’t bad for you until you are on medications that interact with it. Discuss with your doctor before taking this supplement.

Q. What is a good omega 3 to take?

Ans. Taking Omega 3 fish oil is the best option, as it provides EPA and DHA in greater amounts.

Q. Is it good to take Omega 3 everyday?

Ans. If you wish to see results from supplements, then taking them everyday is highly recommended.

Q. Does Omega 3 Make you Fat?

Ans. Like any other macronutrient, Omega-3 contains calories. if you consume more calories than you burn in a day, then your weight will increase. However, the amount of calories in Omega-3 supplements is low.

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