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Omega-3 Fatty Acids — briefly detalis

Omega-3 Fatty Acids — briefly detalis

It is known that omega 3 fatty acids are incredibly healthy for our body. They are essential, so we must get them from our diet or omega 3 supplements as our body can't produce them.

This is a briefly guide to omega-3 fatty acids.

What are omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fats. As polyunsaturated fatty acids, their chemical structure contain many double bonds.

Main types of omega-3 fats

There are many fatty acids that belong to the omega-3 group but the most important ones are EPA, DHA, and ALA.

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

EPA is primarily found in fatty fish, seafood, and fish oil.

EPA forms signaling molecules called eicosanoids which they can reduce inflammation. EPA is used also against certain mental conditions, especially depression.

  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

DHA is primarily found in fatty fish, seafood, fish oils, and algae.

Mainly, DHA is a structural component in cell membranes especially in nerve cells in our brain and eyes. 40% of polyunsaturated fats in our brain are DHA.

DHA is vital during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it helps in baby nervous system development.

  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

ALA is found in certain high-fat plant foods, particularly flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

ALA is used for energy but it doesn't have many health functions.

However, it’s an essential fatty acid because our body can convert it into EPA and DHA.

However, this conversion is inefficient in humans as only about 5% of ALA gets converted into EPA, and as little as 0.5% into DHA according some estimates.

So, don't depend on ALA alone as omega 3 source.

Omega-3 fatty acids health benefits

Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most studied nutrients.

They can help in:

  1. Blood triglycerides. Omega-3 supplements can significantly reduce blood triglycerides
  2. Cancer. Eating omega-3 rich foods has been related to a low risk of prostate, colon, and breast cancers
  3. Fatty liver. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help lose excess fat from our liver
  4. Depression and anxiety. Omega-3 supplements can make depression and anxiety symptoms less.
  5. Inflammation and pain. Omega-3s can reduce inflammation and pain like menstrual pain.
  6. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Omega-3 supplements can effectively improve various symptoms in children with ADHD.
  7. Asthma. They may help prevent asthma in children and young adults.
  8. Baby development. DHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding can improve your baby’s intelligence and eye health.
  9. Dementia. Higher omega 3 intake reduce Alzheimer’s disease and dementia risk.

Omega-3 fatty acids don't prevent heart attacks or stroke as the largest review studies found no benefit but they improve several risk factors for heart disease.

How much omega-3 to take for optimal health?

World Health Organization (WHO) recommend a minimum of 250–500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults.

The American Heart Association also recommends eating fatty fish at least two times per week to ensure enough omega-3 intake for heart diseases prevention.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, it’s recommended to add an additional 200 mg of DHA plus the recommended intake.

For adults, the recommended intake is 1.6 and 1.1 grams per day for men and women, respectively according the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Omega 6 intake may partially control how much omega 3 you need as reducing omega-6 may reduce your needs for omega 3.

Should you take an omega-3 supplement?

If you don’t eat enough fatty fish or seafood, you should take omega 3 supplements which includes fish, krill, and algal oils. For vegetarians and vegans, taking a DHA supplement made from algae is recommended.

Safety and side effects of omega 3

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), up to 2,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day from supplements is safe.

In high doses, omega-3s may thin blood blood so talk to your doctor if you have a bleeding disorders or you take blood thinning medicines.

Cod liver oil contains high amounts from vitamin A, which can be harmful in high doses.

Best Foods sources of omega 3

  • Salmon contains 4,023 mg per serving (EPA and DHA)
  • Cod liver oil contains 2,664 mg per serving (EPA and DHA)
  • Sardines contain 2,205 mg per serving (EPA and DHA)
  • Anchovies contain 951 mg per serving (EPA and DHA)
  • Flax seeds contain 2,338 mg per serving (ALA)
  • Chia seeds contain 4,915 mg per serving (ALA)
  • Walnuts contain 2,542 mg per serving (ALA)

Some common asked questions about omega 3

1. What is the best form of fish oil?

Triglycerides and free fatty acid forms of omega 3 are the best form because of better absorption but you should know that omega-3 fatty acids in most fish oils are in the ethyl ester form.

2. If we eat more omega 3 foods, What happens?

Our body can treat them as other fats and used them simply as a source of calories

3. Is cooking with omega-3 oils possible?

Polyunsaturated fats like omega 3 oils are easily damaged in high heat, so it is not recommended to cook with omega 3 oils.

For this reason, it is recommended to keep omega 3 oils in a dark, cool place and not to buy them in bulk, as they can spoil quickly.


Omega-3 fatty acids can provide us with many health benefits, so if you don't eat fatty fish or seafood twice weekly at least, you should take omega 3 supplements to improve your physical and mental health.

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