Benefits of Omega-3 Supplementation

How Omega 3 Fatty Acids benefit you
There are many fatty acids that the body produces, but two of them are not produced there and need to be added via diet. These two are known as Linoic Acid, which is an Omega 6 fatty acid, and alpha-linoic acid which is an Omega 3 fatty acid.

We naturally consume large amounts of Omega-6s through red meat, eggs, and dairy but our consumption of Omega 3s is not anywhere near as high. This leads to an imbalanced ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3s in the body, which can lead to all sorts of health issues [1]. This article will look at the many benefits of taking Omega-3s.


Benefits of Omega-3 Supplementation

1. Omega-3 Supplementation Can Help Treat Depressive Symptoms and lower Anxiety

A study by Supplette et al (2011) found that Omega-3 supplementation was effective in treating depression, or more accurately depressive symptoms. However, this was only the case when levels of EPA were above 60% in the fish oil used [2].

In a study on medical students, Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2011) found that Omega-3 supplementation can lower anxiety by up to 20% [3]. The mechanism behind this is very interesting, though quite complicated.

Barry Sears Ph.D. describes it well in an article for Psychology Today [4], he explains that cellular inflammation can affect the brain by disrupting signalling between nerves. This can lead to anxiety, and depression. Whilst Omega-6s (which we have high levels of in our diet) can increase inflammation, EPA (one of the Omega-3 fatty acids) can lower inflammation. Which will lower the risk of anxiety or depression.

He goes on to say that the lowering of Omega-3s in the diet, and increasing of Omega-6s (eating more meat, and less fish) could be behind the increased amount of depression and anxiety in society today [5].

If you would like to learn more about natural ways to reduce anxiety, view this list of beta-blockers for anxiety here.


2. Omega-3 Supplementation may help Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and Inflammation

Omega-3 has been found to decrease the perceived pain, and some of the other effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. For example increased range of motion (ROM) was observed in supplement takers the day after exercise [6]. This could possibly be due to Omega-3s ability to lower inflammation [7].

It should be noted that whilst there is evidence that Omega-3s have a positive effect on DOMS, many studies have failed to find this relationship and as a result the effects aren’t certain.


3. Omega-3 Supplementation can lower Blood Pressure

A study by Campbell et al (2013) found that omega-3 supplementation helped lower blood pressure in people who already had high blood pressure. However, they also found that omega-3 supplementation had no effect on the blood pressure of regular people [8]. So if high blood pressure is an issue, then taking fish oil or Omega-3 capsules can benefit you, but if not they will not lower your blood pressure.


4. Omega-3 Supplementation may Increase HDL-C

HDL-C is what is known as the good cholesterol, it stands for High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol. HDL-C has a number of useful functions, its main benefit though is that it removes LDL Cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein or ‘bad’ cholesterol) and even recycles it. A few studies have found that Omega-3 supplementation can increase HDL-C, though they also reported increased LDL-C so make of that what you will [9].


5. Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Triglycerides

Triglycerides are created in the liver, and also found in meat, oil, and dairy products. They are essentially a form of fat found in your blood. When you consume a high-fat meal, your body will convert some of the fat into immediate energy, and the rest will be converted into Triglycerides, these are stored in fat cells.

When you require energy later on, the Triglycerides are released in a process known as Lipolysis. So long as you are consuming less calories than you burn there won’t be a problem. But if you are consuming more dietary fat than you are using your Triglyceride levels will be too high. High Triglyceride levels can lead to Atherosclerosis (the hardening of artery walls) and an increased chance of cardiovascular disease.

Luckily, there appears to be strong evidence that Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (particularly DHA) can lower Triglycerides. A study by Cazzola et al (2007) found that lower doses of EPA lowered Triglyceride levels [10].


Recommended Daily Allowance

According to Examine.com the recommended dose for both EPA and DHA together is around 1g per day, but if you were looking to reduce soreness you could take up to 6g per day [11]. But as Omega-3 can increase cholesterol they should be taken carefully.

Editors Note: Thus far the best way for you to get the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, is for you to obtain these through a healthy diet of eating fish and omega-containing produce. However, to get the higher DHA concentration, supplementation can help. Feel free to look at our 10 omega 3 supplements that we have ranked and reviewed.

Conclusion

The benefits of taking Omega-3 supplements are obvious, though increasing your oily fish intake and lowering your red meat intake would benefit you more. This is due to the improved ratios of Omega-6 and Omega-3 in the blood. If you find it hard to do this though, Omega-3 supplementation would be great. Try to avoid taking the Omega-3 and 6 combination tablets though (unless you don’t eat meat or dairy).

 

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