What does Omega 3 do? What are the benefits and harms of omega 3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that the body cannot produce on its own, so it should be taken from outside as food. It has many basic functions in the human body. Since they cannot be stored, they should be consumed regularly, it is very important for health. It has positive effects on nervous system development, cardiovascular system, and immune system. Oily marine fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring, cod, and vegetable foods such as cabbage, spinach, purslane, soybeans, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds are rich in omega-3.

What is Omega 3?


Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that plays an important role in the human body. Although these fatty acids are necessary for metabolism, they cannot be synthesized in the body and must be taken with food. For this reason, they are called essential fatty acids. There are many fatty acids belonging to the Omega-3 family.

Of these, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are the most important ones. ALA is mostly found in plant foods, while EPA and DHA are found in oily fish, fish oils, and krill oils.

Omega 3 varieties

  • ALA: It is mostly used to obtain energy in the body. Although it is the most common omega-3 taken from food, it must be converted into EPA and then DHA before it can be used in the body. However, this conversion rate is insufficient in humans. Therefore, ALA should never be used as the sole source of omega-3s.
  • EPA: It has many basic functions in the human body. The most important of these is that it is used to create signal molecules called eicosanoids. These molecules reduce inflammation in the body. Also, EPA has been found to be effective against certain mental problems, particularly depression.
  • DHA: It is the most important omega-3 fatty acid in the human body. Some of it comes out of the transformation of the EPA. The brain is an important structural component in the retina of the eye and in many parts of the body. It is very important for the development of the nervous system.
What does Omega 3 do? What are the benefits and harms of omega 3?

What does Omega 3 do?


Omega-3s play an important role as components of the phospholipids that make up the structures of cell membranes. They also provide energy and are used to create eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are signal molecules that resemble the chemical structure of whatever fatty acid they are produced from. It plays an important role in the functions of the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, and endocrine systems.

What are the benefits of omega 3?


1. Depression and anxiety

Omega-3s can help prevent and treat depression and anxiety. It has been observed that people who consume regularly are less prone to depression. Also, using omega-3 supplements can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. EPA is the most effective in combating depression.

2. Eye health

DHA is an important structural component of the retinal layer of the eye. Vision problems may occur when not taken in sufficient amounts. In addition, getting enough omega-3s also reduces the risk of macular degeneration that causes visual impairment and blindness.

3. Pregnancy

DHA is essential for brain development in babies. Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy positively affects the development of the child’s intelligence, communication, and social skills; It also reduces the risk of behavioral problems, developmental delay, ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder), and autism.

4. Baby-Child health

Babies and children need adequate amounts of DHA for healthy brain and eye development. Breast milk contains a significant amount of DHA. However, in cases where breast milk cannot be taken or is insufficient, the formulas used should be omega-3 supplemented. Adequate omega-3 intake reduces the risk of disease.

5. Heart health

One of the properties of omega-3s is their positive effect on the cardiovascular system. It reduces triglycerides, helps lower blood pressure, raises good cholesterol (HDL) levels, and reduces insulin resistance. It also helps prevent harmful blood clots and the formation of plaque that causes stiffness and narrowing of the arteries. Despite all these positive effects, there is no definitive evidence that omega-3s reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

6. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

It has been observed that the omega-3 fatty acids in the blood of children with ADHD are lower than their healthy peers. Omega-3 supplements can reduce ADHD symptoms in children. Attention increases; hyperactivity, impulsivity, and aggression are reduced. It has recently been suggested that fish oil supplements are one of the most promising treatments for ADHD.

7. Inflammation

Normally, inflammation, which is a natural and healthy response to infections and injuries in the body, sometimes turns into a chronic form. This situation has many negative effects on health. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce chronic inflammation with their anti-inflammatory effects.

8. Autoimmune diseases

They are diseases that occur as a result of the immune system attacking healthy cells. Type 1 diabetes, a prime example, occurs when the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. There are many diseases that occur with the same mechanism. Adequate intake, especially in the first year of life, is protective against autoimmune diseases.

9. Mental problems

It has been found that individuals with mental problems have low omega-3 fats in the blood. Omega-3 supplements can reduce mood swings in people with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

10. Alzheimer’s

Omega-3 oils can be effective in preventing age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is suggested that the risk of disease will decrease with high intake. However, more work needs to be done on this.

11. Cancer

Although omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of some types of cancer, the results of the studies are conflicting. Those who consume too much omega-3s have less risk of developing colon cancer. It has also shown that omega-3 fatty acids are effective in slowing or reversing the growth of prostate cancer and breast cancer cells.

12. Asthma

Asthma is a lung disease that can be very dangerous and progresses with the rapid narrowing of the airways in certain situations. Omega consumption in children and young adults has been shown to reduce the risk of asthma.

13. Fatty liver

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has increased considerably with the obesity epidemic. Omega 3s reduce fatty liver in obese people.

14. Bone and joint health

Omega-3s increase the amount of calcium in the bones, making them stronger. This reduces the risk of osteoporosis. It also helps treat arthritis. Patients taking Omega-3s experienced a decrease in joint pain and an increase in grip strength.

16. Menstrual pain

The severity of these pains, which affect the majority of women and make their daily lives difficult, can be reduced with omega-3 intake.

17. Sleep quality

The DHA level also determines the level of melatonin hormone that helps you fall asleep. Omega-3 supplements increase sleep time and quality in both children and adults. Insufficient Omega-3s cause sleep problems in children and sleep apnea in adults.

18. Skin health

Adequate amounts of omega-3s provide healthy skin. Your skin will be soft, moist, and supple. DHA and EPA produce oil, manage and delay aging. It reduces the risk of acne. It prevents the skin from being damaged by the sun.

What does Omega 3 do? What are the benefits and harms of omega 3?

What diseases does Omega 3 protect from?


Adequate amounts of omega fatty acids have a protective effect against many diseases. First of all, they are effective in preventing many neurological and mental health problems with their effect on the development of the nervous system. Among them:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Vision problems
  • ADHD,
  • Autism
  • Behavioral problems
  • Age-related dementia,
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

With their effect on the immune system, they reduce the possibility of developing autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It is also protective in terms of rheumatic diseases with its anti-inflammatory effect.

With their metabolic effects, they can prevent problems such as insulin resistance, high blood fats, fatty liver, and osteoporosis. In addition, omega-3 consumption has a protective function in terms of some types of cancer such as colon cancer.

Omega-3 is found in which foods?


Foods containing ALA:

  • Cabbage, spinach, purslane
  • Soybean
  • Avocado
  • Walnut
  • Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds
  • Linseed oil and canola oil

Foods containing EPA and DHA:

  • Fatty fish and shellfish such as herring, salmon, eel, shrimp, and sturgeon
  • Meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
What does Omega 3 do? What are the benefits and harms of omega 3?

How should Omega 3 be consumed?


It is the ideal way to get omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for health, from all foods with a balanced diet. However, if it cannot be taken as food, it can also be taken as a supplement. For people with low omega-3 levels, this is an inexpensive and effective way. It is recommended that the supplements be taken with a meal containing fat. Because oil increases omega-3 absorption.

Who should definitely consume Omega 3?

Since omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized in the body, they must be taken in sufficient quantities by everyone. However, omega-3 intake is particularly important in situations where the requirement is increased or is vital. These conditions include pregnancy, infancy and childhood periods, and old age.

Omega-3 taken during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood are indispensable for the healthy neurological and spiritual development of the child. Paying attention to omega-3 consumption in old age is protective against age-related dementia, Alzheimer’s, and age-related vision loss.

How often can Omega 3 be taken?

Eating fatty fish twice a week and consuming plant foods rich in omega is sufficient for the necessary omega-3 intake. However, omega-3 supplements are recommended when oily fish is not consumed. The recommended daily dose may differ depending on age and health status. Consult a healthcare professional before using supplements.

Omega 3 types and supplements


Although there are hundreds of types of omega supplements, not all of them may provide the same benefit. The process can affect the shape of fatty acids. It is important to make the right choice when buying supplements, as some forms absorb better than others and some processes during their preparation can affect the content:

  • Natural fish oil: It is the supplement closest to real fish. It contains vitamins A and D as well as EPA, DHA, and other facts that help their absorption.
  • Processed Fish Oil: Since they are inexpensive and in capsule form, they make up the majority of the fish oil market. They are purified from harmful substances such as mercury and sometimes concentrated to increase EPA and DHA levels. However, their absorption is low. Some can be reprocessed to increase absorption. However, this also causes an increase in cost.
  • Krill oil: Extracted from Antarctic krill, a small shrimp-like animal. Since it naturally contains a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, it is highly resistant to oxidation. In addition, since krill are very small and short-lived, they do not accumulate many harmful substances throughout their lives. Therefore, their oil does not need to be purified and they are generally well absorbed.
  • Green Lipped Mussel Oil: Contains ETA as well as EPA and DHA. ETA may be more effective at reducing inflammation than other omega fatty acids. It is considered an environmentally friendly option.
  • Mammalian Oil: Produced from seal oil. In addition to EPA and DHA, it also contains a rare omega-3 fatty acid called DPA.
  • ALA Oil: ALA oils are produced from vegetable sources and contain both omega-3 and omega-6. They do not contain EPA and DHA, which are active in the human body.
  • Algae oil: Seaweed, especially microalgae, is another source of EPA and DHA. In fact, EPA and DHA in fish are caused by algae. Small fish eat algae, big fish eat these small fish and the food chain moves up. Algae oil contains more omega-3s than fish oil. It is a very good source of omega-3s for vegetarians and vegans. The fact that algae are environmentally friendly and sustainable can help meet the growing world’s population’s need for omega fatty acids. In addition, algae oil is a good option as it does not contain harmful substances such as heavy metals.

What are the side effects and harms of Omega 3?


Omega-3 supplements have mild side effects. These include the fishy taste in the mouth, the fishy breath of the breath, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, headache, and the smell of sweat. Excessive intake of fish oil can increase the risk of bleeding.

How to choose omega 3 supplements?


  • Omega-3 type: Make sure it contains enough EPA and DHA.
  • Omega-3 amount: Pay attention to the amount of EPA and DHA it contains instead of the total amount of fat. The amount of EPA and DHA in a supplement that is said to be 1000 mg of fish oil per capsule is usually 320 mg.
  • Form of omega-3: For better absorption, choose those in the form of FFA (free fatty acids), TG, RTG (triglycerides and regenerated triglycerides), and PL (phospholipids) instead of EE (ethyl esters).
  • Purity and originality: Choose products that comply with the GOED standard for purity or products with “third party tested” text. This shows that they are likely safe and actually contain what they say.
  • Freshness: Omega-3s can break down just like fish. In this case, their effect is diminished or even harmful. Always check the date and see if it contains an antioxidant. Antioxidant-free supplements may deteriorate more quickly when they come into contact with air. Commonly consumed omega capsules have no flavor and are often used with an enteric coating on them. This can mask the foul fish oil odor. Therefore, it is a good way to understand the spoilage to open and smell one of them from time to time.
  • Sustainability: Try to buy fish oil supplements approved by the MSC, the Environmental Protection Fund, or a similar organization. Short-lived small fish should be preferred in terms of sustainability. See: >>> Omega

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Resources and References:

1- Omega Fatty Acids, 2- Omega Supplements,  3- Omega Supplements

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