Over the past 10 years, many Americans have turned to omega-3 fish oil supplements for their many powerful health benefits for your body and brain. Because your body is unable to produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own, you must obtain them from supplementation or dietary sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important because they play a central role in nearly every aspect of health. They are most commonly known for their positive impact on the risk of heart disease.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide, but communities who eat diets rich in fish have remarkably low instances of these diseases. Omega-3 supplements are associated with:

• Lowering high triglycerides, a major risk factor for heart disease, and raising HDL (“the good”) cholesterol.
• Aiding in preventing plaque build-up responsible for hardening and restriction of the arteries.
• Improving the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and helping to protect you from the related diseases.
• Preventing blood clots.

There are a number of conditions related to brain and mental health that seem to improve when individuals get good omega-3s. Depression and anxiety, the most common mental health concerns we see today, are less likely to be seen in people who regularly get large amounts of omega-3s. Small clinical trials have seen a potential neuroprotective effect of omega-3 fats on people suffering from dementia, age-related mental decline, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

One reason omega-3 fatty acids may be so beneficial to many aspects of health could be that they help decrease system-wide inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of most diseases and is related to the development of nearly every major illness.

Multiple studies have found links between high omega-3 intake and a decreased risk for autoimmune diseases or an improvement in autoimmune disease symptoms.

Osteoporosis is a major factor for older adults, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide and resulting in osteoporotic fractures once every three seconds. Omega-3s are recognized in scientific research as able to increase the amount of calcium you absorb from your gut and improve the strength of your bones and synthesis of bone collagen.

A good source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish, including varieties such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Other omega-3 foods include walnuts, chia seeds, flax and hemp seeds. Ideally, try to consume at least two servings of fish per week. Supplementation is also an option, which can be especially useful for those who don’t regularly consume fish.

Although dosage recommendations can vary, the recommended daily intake is 1,100 milligrams of omega-3s per day for women and 1,600 milligrams daily for men. Taking up to 2,000 milligrams of omega-3 is generally considered safe by the FDA.

As always, if you decide to start using a supplement to boost your omega-3 intake, make sure you do so under the supervision of your physician/naturopath.


By: Tracy Pato, CNHP, CTN
A to Zinc