Benefits of Taking Omega 3 Supplements 2022

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats, meaning you must get them from the food you eat, as your body can’t make them. They’ve been associated with numerous health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease (Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015), reduced inflammation (Biochem Soc Trans. 2017) and improved mood (Front Physiol. 2018).


Fish oil and flaxseed oil each contain an impressive amount of omega-3 fatty acids. The main types of omega-3s in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (NIH).

On the other hand, flaxseed oil contains the omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) (Trusted Source). Flaxseed oil also contains linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Linoleic acid and arachidonic acid (AA) are the Omega-6 fatty acids that have been found to possess potential cancer protective properties. The human body converts linoleic acid into GLA (Gamma-Linoliec Acid), and the latter get converted into AA.

EPA and DHA are predominantly found in animal foods like fatty fish, while ALA is mostly found in plants.

However, ALA isn’t biologically active and needs to be converted to EPA and DHA to be used for something other than just stored energy like other types of fat (Trusted Source).

While ALA is still an essential fatty acid, EPA and DHA are linked to many more health benefits (Trusted Source). Additionally, the conversion process from ALA to EPA and DHA is quite inefficient in humans (Trusted Source). For example, one study found that only 5% of ALA is converted to EPA and less than 0.5% of ALA is converted to DHA in adults (Trusted Source).

EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation, which causes swelling and pain. Research has indicated that both acids might suppress the body’s immune system. However, a 2016 study suggests that DHA might enhance immune function instead. DHA is more effective at reducing inflammation than EPA, but both have a role.

Omega-3 and COVID-19

That are more than a dozen studies on-going that examine the effect of EPA and/or DHA on the prevention of or lessening of symptoms of COVID-19.

Evidence suggests the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA affect biological pathways that may have direct influence in the outcome of COVID-19.

EPA and DHA have a direct influence in the immunological response to viral infections and can modulate immune response and function.

Animal-based omega-3 fats, especially DHA, also help prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel) by decreasing platelet aggregation. Hypercoagulation is another complication of severe COVID-19 infection that can have lethal consequences.

Omega-3 also lowers your risk of lung dysfunction, protects against lung damage and secondary bacterial infections, and improves mitochondrial function.

Research shows that by lowering triglycerides, the risk of developing a cytokine storm is diminished. Omega-3 supplementation is known to lower triglycerides, but krill oil does so more effectively than fish oil.

The British Rhinological Society's Guidelines for the Management of New Onset Loss of Sense of Smell During the COVID-19 Pandemic advises that that fish oil supplementation (2,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids/day) may be beneficial when used in addition to standard treatment (olfactory training, oral steroids and steroid rinses) (Hopkins, Clin Otolaryngol 2020). This position is not based on a clinical trial of fish oil in COVID-19 patients but on limited animal and human research suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for loss of smell due to olfactory nerve damage.

Omega-3 and Heart Health

Omega-3s - particularly EPA and DHA - are important for overall health, including heart health. Most people do not get enough EPA and CHA omega-3s, and new research suggests you may need even more than you think.
According to the research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in September 2020, EPA and DHA supplementation is associated with a reduced risk of:
  • Fatal Heart Attack - 35%
  • Heart Attack (myocardial infarction)- 13%
  • Risk of death form Coronary Heart Disease - 9%
Your goal should be to take at least 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Dietary / Food supplements, prescription omega-3s and eating fish regularly will help you meet this goal.

Omega-3 and Knee Pain

EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation, which causes swelling and pain. Research has indicated that both acids might suppress the body’s immune system. However, a 2016 study suggests that DHA might enhance immune function instead. DHA is more effective at reducing inflammation than EPA, but both have a role.

All of these effects makes fish oil potentially beneficial for people with arthritis.

For the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil to work against arthritis, it’s necessary to consume a fairly large quantity of it each day. Fish oil — or cod liver oil — enclosed in capsules makes this fairly easy.

On the other hand, because cod liver oil contains very high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D, taking too much can be toxic. For the purpose of treating arthritis, fish oil is the safer choice.


Omega-3 and Diabetes

Omega-3 fats are important for many reasons. While their brain and cardiovascular benefits are well-established, a lesser known benefit has to do with autoimmune diabetes. According to research, published in December 2020, adults who test positive for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65) antibodies — a marker for Type 1 diabetes3 — can significantly reduce their risk of adult-onset diabetes by eating omega-3 rich fatty fish.

The study looked at data from 11,247 cases of adult-onset diabetes and 14,288 diabetes-free controls that participated in the Epic-InterAct case-cohort study conducted in eight European countries. As explained by the authors:

“Baseline plasma samples were analyzed for GAD65 antibodies and phospholipid n-3 PUFAs. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for incident diabetes in relation to GAD65 antibody status and tertiles of plasma phospholipid n-3 PUFA or fish intake were estimated using Prentice-weighted Cox regression …

The hazard of diabetes in antibody-positive individuals with low intake of total and fatty fish, respectively, was significantly elevated (HR 2.52 and 2.48) compared with people who were GAD65 antibody negative and had high fish intake, with evidence of additive (AP 0.44 and 0.48) and multiplicative interactions.

Individuals with high GAD65 antibody levels (≥167.5 units/mL) and low total plasma phospholipid n-3 PUFAs had a more than fourfold higher hazard of diabetes …”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Life Span

The Framingham study group is one of the longest-running longitudinal health data sets in existence. Since 1971, the residents of this small Massachusetts town have given us everything from heart health data to their knee annual MRI images. That’s where the data for this new Omega-3 research originates.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, used data from a long-term study group, the Framingham Offspring Cohort, which has been monitoring residents of this Massachusetts town, in the United States, since 1971.

The research looked at 2,200 people who were monitored for 11 years for their blood fatty acid levels. The researchers found that omega-3 levels in red blood cells are very good mortality risk predictors. That means that higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood from regularly eating oily fish, increased life expectancy by almost five years.

 

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