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Omega 3 Acids: Benefits, Risks, Sources, And More


“Health is wealth” is a saying everyone is familiar with. There is no way you can sustain your wealth without health.

Since taking care of your well-being is in your hands, you must know what is right and what is wrong for you. If you come across the term “fats”, that immediately sounds unhealthy.

This is where the mistakes begin. Even though some types of fats are not good for health, some essential fats are needed for survival. They are healthy and are equally vital in nutrition.

One of them is omega-3 fatty acids. If you are looking for some information about them, follow the article till the end.

What Are Omega 3 Acids?

Omega 3 Acids are chemical compounds. They are polyunsaturated fats. They have two or more double bonds present in the long chain of carbon atoms.

Hence they are PUFAs ( polyunsaturated fatty acids). To break it down into simple terms, they are fats essential for human survival.

They are an inseparable part of nutrition. One should always maintain a balanced intake of omega-3.

They[1] are healthy for the heart, brain, skin, and even the immune system. You name it. Our cell membranes have a significant proportion of these omega-3 fatty acids.

Not only do they form them, but also aid in signaling between the cells through receptors. They have 3 broad subdivisions, namely, ALA, EPA, and DHA.

  • ALA

    ALA is the abbreviation used for alpha-linolenic acid. This is the basic and the only plant-based one out of the three. It is an indispensable part of growth and development.

    It is generally known to be a precursor of EPA and DHA. But, it doesn’t work this way for humans. It is just stored to be used as energy like other fats. Only a small amount get converted into EPA and DHA.

    Some studies[2] have shown that it may reduce the risk of heart diseases and attacks. Nuts and seeds can be considered the finest sources of ALA.


  • EPA

    Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA is another important omega-3 fatty acid. It is usually obtained from fish. It may reduce inflammation.

    It is used by our body to produce certain signaling molecules. These[3] further assist in psychological functions.


  • DHA

    Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is also majorly provided[3] by fish and fish oils.

    They form more than 60% of the retina in the eye. It also is a vital structural component of your skin.

Benefits Of Omega 3 Acids

Consuming omega-3 amino acids is important for cell membranes and signaling between cells with the help of receptors. But its benefits are not limited to this function.

It extends its utility to almost every body part. Let’s take a closer look at some of the omega-3 benefits.

  1. Aids Cognitive Functions And May Reduce the Risk of Brain-Related Diseases

    Omega-3s are often related to improving brain health. Several reasons are given to back this up.

    First of all, omega-3 fatty acids improve[4] blood flow to the brain. This helps in better cognitive function. They may also slow down the effects of age-related mental decline.

    People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD may also benefit[5] from the right amount of omega-3s.

    Not only this, their consumption has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.


  2. Could Support Healthy Pregnancy

    Pregnant ladies can largely benefit from omega-3 fatty acids. DHA contributes[6] to the major amount of omega-3s present in the brain.

    It also is about 60% of the total fatty acids in the retina. Therefore, in the growing phases, it is very helpful for better eyesight and brain function of the baby.

    This is also good for the health of pregnant ladies.


  3. Beneficial For Heart

    Since omega- 3 fatty acids have the potential to improve[7] blood flow, they may help reduce the pressure on the heart.

    They may also slow down the formation of blood clots. Omega-3s may also lower bad cholesterol levels. Additionally, it may lower high blood pressure.

    It may help in the prevention of plaque formation which may otherwise harden the arteries.


  4. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer

    Cancer has been one of the cruelest diseases taking lives without mercy. Trying to find a solution for it, millions of researches have been conducted over time.

    From some of these, omega-3 fatty acids emerged as the potential[8] savior but only for specific types of cancer.

    They may reduce the risk of colon cancer but more research is required to confirm this.

    Some suggest that it may also lower the chances of having prostate cancer in males and breast cancer in females.


  5. Utility For The Skin

    We already discussed the role of omega-3 fatty acids in the formation of cell membranes. These membranes are an important[9] part of the skin.

    Omega-3 fatty may give a smooth and hydrated look to the skin. This is because they supply the much-needed moisture, which helps avoid wrinkles.

    They may also prevent acne and the damage caused to skin by exposure to the sun. These reasons do justice to their commercial use in skincare products.


  6. Reduces Inflammation

    Inflammation is the body’s counter move for pathogens and injuries. It is very helpful for recovery. However, in some cases, this doesn’t disappear as easily as it should.

    This is when it turns into chronic inflammation. It may act as a hindrance to the normal functioning of the body.

    The study[10] suggests omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation.


  7. May Improve Sleep

    Sleep is also an essential element to determine the health status of an individual. If you are sleep deprived, you are likely to be at risk of numerous health issues.

    The good news is DHA is associated[11] with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

    This aids in relaxation and you may increase your cozy sleep hours with the help of omega-3s.


  8. Easing Symptoms Of Arthritis

    Omega-3 fatty acids can be useful when it comes to easing the symptoms of arthritis. They are known to reduce inflammation and support balanced immunity.

    This may help prevent tender joints and joint pain. Studies have shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit[12] largely from it.


  9. Relieve Menstrual Cramps

    A huge proportion of females suffer from terrible menstrual cramps. Omega-3 fatty acids may give some relief[13] by easing up these cramps.

    They increase blood flow. They also reduce inflammation which may result in milder pain.


  10. May Help Fight Type-1 Diabetes

    Type-1 can be identified as an autoimmune disease. Here very little to no insulin is produced.

    Omega-3 fatty acids help lower the risk[14] because it helps regulate the balance of the immune system but more studies are needed to confirm these benefits.

Foods Rich In Omega 3 Acids

Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are

  1. Fatty Fish

    There is no way fish don’t top the list. They are the best-known source of dietary intake of omega-3s.

    Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna are the best[1] among all for this purpose.


  2. Chia Seeds

    Non-fish lovers and vegetarians often think that they cannot get enough omega-3 fatty acids.

    Breaking the myth, chia seeds have earned a reputable spot in the health sector due to their all-round ability and benefits.

    They are a good source[15] of omega-3 fatty acids which additionally provide fiber, proteins, and vitamins.


  3. Walnuts

    Nuts can be your easy-to-carry and “pocket-friendly” source of omega-3 fatty acids. 7-10 walnuts provide up to 2500 omega-3s.


  4. Oils

    Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3, especially cod fish liver oil. But it should be used as a supplement and not for cooking.

    If you are cooking any meals, it could be one of the worst cooking oils. This is because fish oil, when heated, may undergo an essential nature change.

    This heating could potentially be harmful when consumed. More on it here[19]. Also do not take too much of it because you may overdoes with vitamin A.

    Cooking oils rich in omega-3s are- canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed oil[16], walnut oil, and mustard oil.


  5. Spinach

    Everything from smoothies to delicious soups can be made from spinach.

    It is packed with nutrition and has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Along with this, it is a rich source of vitamins.


  6. Cauliflower

    It is an underrated source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is a largely used vegetable in Asian countries but very few people know that it is rich in omega-3s.

    A cup of cooked cauliflower provides 208 mg of ALA omega-3 fatty acids.


  7. Soybean

    Soybean is a well-known source[17] of vegetable protein. It also has an abundance of vitamin K and potassium.

    However, it has a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically ALA. It has about 500 mg per ½ cup.

Recommended Dosage Of Omega 3 Acids

The maximum limit a person can consume in a day is 3 g. However, the minimum dosage of EPA and DHA in a day is 250mg. The normal range varies from 250-500 mg for both of them combined.

In the case of ALA, males require 1600 mg whereas females require 1100 mg a day. In the case of pregnancy, it rises to 1300 mg per day.

Though this government paper[1] suggests the dosage of Omega 3 fatty acids yet referring to your health expert before consuming any product is necessary.

You must discuss your medical history and health concerns with them in order to know the right and safe dosage according to your requirements.

Potential Risks Of Omega 3 Acids

Though omega-3 fatty acids are vital for a balanced diet and healthy life, they should be consumed in moderate amounts only.

Excess consumption[18] can lead to increased weight as these are fats.

Other Side Effects Include

  • prolonged bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • heartburn
  • bad breath
  • smelly sweat
  • headache
  • bad taste


Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats. They are required by the body for healthy functioning.

Since they cannot be produced by the body, you have to include them in your diet. They are essential for the formation of the cell membrane and cellular signaling.

Moreover, they are beneficial for the heart, skin, brain and immunity. Excess consumption can call for unwanted problems like nausea, diarrhea, weight gain and headache.

Therefore, they should be consumed in the required amounts. You should talk to your dietician before consumption for better results.

+18 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Updated: June 2, 2022 Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  2. Nicolas Blondeau, Robert H. Lipsky, Miled Bourourou, et al. Alpha-Linolenic Acid: An Omega-3 Fatty Acid with Neuroprotective Properties—Ready for Use in the Stroke Clinic? Biomed Res Int. 2015; 2015: 519830. Published online 2015 Feb 19. doi: 10.1155/2015/519830
  3. Danielle Swanson, Robert Block, and Shaker A. Mousa Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan; 3(1): 1–7. Published online 2012 Jan 5. doi: 10.3945/an.111.000893
  4. James J. DiNicolantonio and James H. O’Keefe The Importance of Marine Omega-3s for Brain Development and the Prevention and Treatment of Behavior, Mood, and Other Brain Disorders Nutrients. 2020 Aug; 12(8): 2333. Published online 2020 Aug 4. doi: 10.3390/nu12082333
  5. E. Derbyshire Do Omega-3/6 Fatty Acids Have a Therapeutic Role in Children and Young People with ADHD? J Lipids. 2017; 2017: 6285218. Published online 2017 Aug 30. doi: 10.1155/2017/6285218
  6. Jaclyn M Coletta, Stacey J Bell, and Ashley S Roman Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Fall; 3(4): 163–171.
  7. A P Jain, K K Aggarwal, P-Y Zhang Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015;19(3):441-5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25720716/
  8. Elizabeth D Kantor, Johanna W. Lampe, Ulrike Peters, et al. Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and risk of colorectal cancer Nutr Cancer. 2014 May-Jun; 66(4): 716–727. Published online 2013 Sep 20. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2013.804101
  9. Tse-Hung Huang, Pei-Wen Wang, Shih-Chun Yang, et al. Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications of Fish Oil’s Fatty Acids on the Skin Mar Drugs. 2018 Aug; 16(8): 256. Published online 2018 Jul 30. doi: 10.3390/md16080256
  10. Artemis P Simopoulos Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Dec;21(6):495-505. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2002.10719248. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12480795/
  11. Michael J. Patan, David O. Kennedy, Cathrine Husberg, et al. Differential Effects of DHA- and EPA-Rich Oils on Sleep in Healthy Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial Nutrients. 2021 Jan; 13(1): 248. Published online 2021 Jan 16. doi: 10.3390/nu13010248
  12. Ifigenia Kostoglou-Athanassiou, Lambros Athanassiou, and Panagiotis Athanassiou The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Rheumatoid Arthritis Mediterr J Rheumatol. 2020 Jun; 31(2): 190–194. Published online 2020 Jun 30. doi: 10.31138/mjr.31.2.190
  13. Azadeh Nadjarzadeh, Razieh Dehghani Firouzabadi, Niloofar Vaziri, et al. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial Iran J Reprod Med. 2013 Aug; 11(8): 665–672.
  14. Shaylika Chauhan, Hanish Kodali, Jawad Noor,et al. Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Lipid Profile in Diabetic Dyslipidaemia: Single Blind, Randomised Clinical Trial J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Mar; 11(3): OC13–OC16. Published online 2017 Mar 1. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2017/20628.9449
  15. Rahman Ullah, M. Nadeem, A. Khalique, et al Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Apr; 53(4): 1750–1758. Published online 2015 Oct 1. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0
  16. Ankit Goyal, Vivek Sharma, Neelam Upadhyay, et al. Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food J Food Sci Technol. 2014 Sep; 51(9): 1633–1653. Published online 2014 Jan 10. doi: 10.1007/s13197-013-1247-9
  17. Poonamjot Deol, Johannes Fahrmann, Jun Yang, et al. Omega-6 and omega-3 oxylipins are implicated in soybean oil-induced obesity in mice Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 12488. Published online 2017 Oct 2. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12624-9
  18. Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth Last Updated: May 2018 Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/omega3-supplements-in-depth
  19. Benjamin B. Albert, David Cameron-Smith, Paul L. Hofman and Wayne S. Cutfield. Oxidation of Marine Omega-3 Supplements and Human Health. Biomed Res Int. 2013; 2013: 464921.
    Published online 2013 Apr 30. doi: 10.1155/2013/464921

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