3 minute read

Omega-3: all you need to know

By Joe Young | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides
omega 3 all you need to know

You’ve probably heard of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. People from that part of the world live longer, age better, and have fewer instances of cardiovascular disease. It’s no mystery why - the answer lies in simple science. A diet rich in healthy fats such as fish is good for your longevity. 

One of the key components is omega-3. When it’s hard to get the recommended amount of two portions of fish a week, you could try a supplement. 

First things first...

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids, found in certain types of fish, nuts, and seeds, which play a key role in your health. Your body can’t produce them on its own, so it’s vital to source them from your diet or by taking a supplement. They’re part of the building blocks of essential nutrition. 

There are 3 types of omega-3s, ALA, DHA, & EPA. EPA and DHA are the active forms of omega-3, only found in oily fish. They’re particularly important for reducing inflammation in the body and for the healthy functioning of the heart. They can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as depression.

What are the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 benefits are plentiful, particularly for your heart. They help reduce triglyceride levels, a fat that enters your bloodstream after a meal which can increase the risk of heart disease or a stroke. They may also help raise good cholesterol and lower blood pressure. 

Who should take an omega-3 supplement?

If you don’t get enough fish or other sources of omega-3 in your diet, you should take a supplement. Countries where oily fish forms a significant part of their diet, like the Mediterranean, Greenland, and Japan, tend to live longer than those in the West. They have lower incidences of cardiovascular diseases.

It’s a simple and effective way of improving your mental and physical health. However, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any omega-3 supplements. They can help you determine the right dose for your individual needs.

Are there any side effects? 

Other than glowing like a Spanish sunset, there are a few very mild side effects, such as an unpleasant taste, halitosis, sweating, a headache, and gastrointestinal distress like heartburn, nausea, and diarrhoea. 

Fish oil has been deemed GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA and consumption of fresh fish oil poses few health risks, even in high doses. 

The numan take 

Your body can’t do everything by itself. Sometimes you have to put in the work. And if you don’t consume enough omega-3 in your diet, a supplement is a great way to get your daily fix of healthy fats.