Omega 3 Oil Supplement Benefits and Dosage
Essential for brain health, omega 3 makes up 40% of your grey matter. Explore the benefits in this comprehensive guide.
Research studies have found that a significant number of adults don't get enough omega 3 fatty acids through their supplements and their diet.
For example, a study by the Global Nutrition and Health Alliance (GNHA) found that while more than half of adults knew that omega 3 fats were important for heart health and brain health, the vast majority of adults had suboptimal levels of omega 3s when tested.
Whether you're seeking to enhance your current omega 3 intake, or you're exploring this topic for the first time, the following guide will outline everything you need to know about omega 3 fatty acids, including:
What omega 3 fatty acids do
Why omega 3 is important for your wellness
How omega 3 benefits your brain health
How to know if you're not getting enough omega 3s
What to eat to boost your dietary intake of omega 3s
What to look for in your omega 3 supplements
What is the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV—formerly RDA) of omega 3?
There hasn't been and NRV established in the UK for omega 3. But, the Australian government suggests the NRV of omega 3 fatty acids, including ALA, EPA, and DHA is 160mg/day for men, 90mg for women. But, it's worth noting that needs change based on factors like age or pregnancy.
In every Smart Supplement dose
125mg of DHA omega 3, and 250mg of omega 3 EPA — shown to be the most beneficial quantities for optimum brain and body health.
Omega 3 functions
What are omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 fats are a type of essential polyunsaturated fat. Your body needs these fats, but your body can't make them on its own (hence the term "essential), which highlights the importance of getting enough omega 3s through your food and your supplements.
Omega 3s are foundational to your brain health and overall health—quite literally—because they help to form the very structure of your cells and are therefore critical for the basic functioning of your body on a cellular level.
What are the types of omega 3 fatty acids?
There are actually three types of omega 3 fatty acids:
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid): You'll find this type of fat in seafood, such as fish oil, as well as algae oil. Your body needs it to create signalling molecules (which help your cells communicate).
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): This form of omega 3 is found in algae, fish and other sources. It's especially important for the cells in your eyes and brain (approximately 40% of your brain's polyunsaturated fats are made up of DHA).
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid): You'll find this form of omega 3 in plant-based foods like nuts and flax, and your body can convert it into EPA and DHA.
Omega 3 benefits
Since omega 3s are so key for your cellular health, the physical perks and brain health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are quite comprehensive.
Benefits of omega 3 on the brain
Your brain's grey matter is closely linked with your overall cognitive abilities. Researchers believe that grey matter is important for functions like:
Seeing, hearing and other senses
Memory and learning
Emotions and emotional regulation
Advanced thinking, including self-control and the ability to make quick decisions
Your brain needs fats for energy. It's actually the most fat-dense organ in your body, and omega 3s (specifically DHA) are the predominant form of fat in your grey matter.
Put simply, you need DHAs for optimal emotional health, cognition, memory, learning and all the other areas highlighted above where you need your grey matter's neurons firing at full speed.
Peer-reviewed medical research has identified a few specific brain health benefits of omega 3s, including:
Reduced depression: People who eat a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, or take an omega 3 supplement, are less likely to experience depression.
Protection from diseases and health conditions that affect your brain and nervous system: For instance, research suggests that taking omega 3s may protect against multiple sclerosis.
Improved brain health as you get older: Numerous studies have found a correlation between higher levels of omega 3s and lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and mental decline in ageing adults.
And it's never too early to start. omega 3 fatty acids have even been shown to improve brain health before children are born.
For instance, children whose mothers took omega 3 supplements or ate a lot of omega 3s when they were pregnant are more likely to have higher intelligence (as measured by IQ tests and problem-solving tests) and are at a lower risk of having behavioural and neurological problems.
Benefits of omega 3 on the body
While many people take omega 3 supplements for brain health, these healthy fats also offer numerous benefits for your general health, wellness, and vitality.
Boosting your cardiovascular health may be one of the most popular reasons people turn to omega 3 supplements. Omega 3s have wide-ranging heart health benefits, including:
Reducing your levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol
Boosting your levels of "good" HDL cholesterol Improving and maintaining a healthy blood pressure
Protecting against the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which is a significant risk factor for heart attacks and strokes
But that's not all. High omega 3 intake may also help to:
Reduce inflammation: Chronic inflammation is linked with increased risks of a wide range of diseases and health problems, including diabetes, arthritis and bowel disease. Omega 3s work as potent anti-inflammatories, helping your body to better manage inflammation.
Improve your weight: Healthy omega 3 levels is linked with improved metabolism and a healthier weight.
Deficiency symptoms of omega 3
Technically, many people aren't truly deficient in omega 3s. That's because most organizations and government agencies recommend a minimum of only 250 to 500 mg of omega 3 fatty acids per day.
However, many people have insufficient levels of omega 3s. This specific terminology is key for one reason: It's all about maintaining the right balance between your omega 3 intake and your omega 6 intake.
Omega 6 essential fats are another form of polyunsaturated fat that your body needs.
Research suggests that our ratio between omega 6 intake and omega 3 intake should hover around 1:1 (e.g., our diet should consist of equal amounts of omega 6 fats and omega 3 fats).
Unfortunately, due to a Western diet that's heavy on grains, oils and processed foods, our consumption of omega 6 fats has gone up by nearly 300% in the past few decades and is now at an all-time high. In fact, some studies estimate that most people have an omega-6 to omega 3 ratio of 17:1.
Put simply, we need more omega 3 fats in our diet for optimal brain health and disease prevention.
Signs of an omega 3 deficiency
The only true way to ascertain your omega 3 levels is through a blood test. However, signs of an omega 3 deficiency or insufficiency may include:
Irritated skin and/or dry skin
Dry eyes or vision problems
Mood swings or experiencing increased levels of anxiety, depression or stress
Difficulty sleeping and/or poor sleep quality
Difficulty focusing on tasks or projects, or experiencing muddled thinking
Increased symptoms of inflammation, such as joint aches and pains
Food sources of omega 3s
The following foods can help boost your intake of omega 3 essential fats:
Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and herring
Shellfish, such as crab and oysters
Seeds like chia seeds and flax seeds (note: these are sources of ALA, which your body then converts into EPA and DHA)
Ways to supplement omega 3s
If you want to improve your omega 3 levels, you can take DHA and EPA supplements. These often come in the form of:
Fish oil (both natural fish oil, as well as processed fish oil)
Oil from shellfish, such as mussels
Mammalian oil (a technical term referring to EPA extracted from seal blubber)
Algae oil is actually the "original" form of DHAs and EPAs. Marine algae is very rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and fish are high in EPAs and DHAs simply because they eat a lot of algae.
What other vitamins and minerals should I take with omega 3?
There is limited to no evidence showing that taking other supplements can increase or decrease the bioavailability of omega 3s (i.e., how well your body can absorb the essential fats).
Commonly asked questions on omega 3 supplements
1. Is fish oil the best source of omega 3s?
Despite their popularity, no: Fish oil is not the best source of omega 3s.
In fact, fish get their high omega 3 levels from eating marine algae. Taking a supplement made with algae oil provides you with the original, pure form of EPAs and DHAs as nature intended. Plus, it avoids some aspects of fish oil that some people may find problematic:
Fish oil may be high in heavy metals, such as mercury, that's commonly found in big fish
Fish oil may not be suitable for some diets, such as a vegetarian or a vegan diet
Fish oil may contribute to environmental concerns, such as bycatch problems and overfishing
Fish oil can go rancid quickly, especially if the supplements are not packaged properly or are exposed to light and air
2. What happens if you take more omega 3s than you need?
Your body treats omega 3s like any other fat that you eat. There is currently no research showing a risk of "overdosing" on omega 3 supplements.
3. Who should take an omega 3 supplement?
Some specific demographics may be more at risk of having very low levels of omega 3s, such as those who avoid all seafood and shellfish. However, everyone can benefit from increasing their omega 3 intake, especially when it comes to optimal brain health and physical wellness.
How we use omega 3 in Heights Smart Supplement
At Heights, we've formulated the Smart Supplement with EPAs and DHAs sourced from algae oil. We've also ensured that:
The EPA and DHA quantities are perfectly balanced for your brain health and cognition
The omega 3s are pure, quality-tested, and environmentally sustainable
Everything is manufactured in small batches so you can rest assured that your omega 3s are potent and haven't gone rancid like many traditional fish oil supplements
It meets many common dietary and lifestyle practices: It's gluten-free, 100% plant-based, allergen-free and contains no GMOs, contaminants, fillers or colourants
Here's a handful of relevant scientific studies on omega 3.
Innis, S. M. (2008). Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain research, 1237, 35-43.
Guesnet, P., & Alessandri, J. M. (2011). Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the developing central nervous system (CNS)–implications for dietary recommendations. Biochimie, 93(1), 7-12.
Yurko-Mauro, K., Alexander, D. D., & Van Elswyk, M. E. (2015). Docosahexaenoic acid and adult memory: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 10(3), e0120391.Yassine, H. N., Braskie, M. N., Mack, W. J., Castor, K. J., Fonteh, A. N., Schneider, L. S., ... & Chui, H. C. (2017). Association of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation with Alzheimer disease stage in apolipoprotein E ε4 carriers: a review. JAMA neurology, 74(3), 339-347.
Yassine, H. N., Braskie, M. N., Mack, W. J., Castor, K. J., Fonteh, A. N., Schneider, L. S., ... & Chui, H. C. (2017). Association of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation with Alzheimer disease stage in apolipoprotein E ε4 carriers: a review. JAMA neurology, 74(3), 339-347.
Dyall, S. C. (2015). Long-chain omega 3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 7, 52.
Kuratko, C. N., Barrett, E. C., Nelson, E. B., & Salem, N. (2013). The relationship of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) with learning and behavior in healthy children: a review. Nutrients, 5(7), 2777-2810.
Schaefer, E. J., Bongard, V., Beiser, A. S., Lamon-Fava, S., Robins, S. J., Au, R., ... & Wolf, P. A. (2006). Plasma phosphatidylcholine docosahexaenoic acid content and risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease: the Framingham Heart Study. Archives of neurology, 63(11), 1545-1550.
Yanai, H. (2017). Effects of N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on dementia. Journal of clinical medicine research, 9(1), 1.
McNamara, R. K. (2016). Role of omega 3 fatty acids in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of depression: current status and future directions. Journal of nutrition & intermediary metabolism, 5, 96-106
Mazereeuw, G., Lanctot, K. L., Chau, S. A., Swardfager, W., & Herrmann, N. (2012). Effects of omega 3 fatty acids on cognitive performance: a meta-analysis. Neurobiology of ageing, 33(7), 1482-e17.
Yurko-Mauro, K., McCarthy, D., Rom, D., Nelson, E. B., Ryan, A. S., Blackwell, A., ... & Midas Investigators. (2010). Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 6(6), 456-464.
Lee, L. K., Shahar, S., Chin, A. V., & Yusoff, N. A. M. (2013). Docosahexaenoic acid-concentrated fish oil supplementation in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI): a 12-month randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology, 225(3), 605-612.
Oulhaj, A., Jernerén, F., Refsum, H., Smith, A. D., & de Jager, C. A. (2016). omega 3 fatty acid status enhances the prevention of cognitive decline by B vitamins in mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 50(2), 547-557.
Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., Yassini-Ardakani, M., Karamati, M., & Shariati-Bafghi, S. E. (2013). Eicosapentaenoic acid versus docosahexaenoic acid in mild-to-moderate depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 23(7), 636-644.
Jazayeri, S., Tehrani-Doost, M., Keshavarz, S. A., Hosseini, M., Djazayery, A., Amini, H., ... & Peet, M. (2008). Comparison of therapeutic effects of omega 3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid and fluoxetine, separately and in combination, in major depressive disorder. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 42(3), 192-198.