Sources of omega-3 such as fish, nuts, avocado and others.

Which Type of Omega-3 Supplement Should You Take? (Must Read!)

So, you’ve already decided to take an Omega-3 supplement to boost your health and wellness. You go to the supplement section of your local grocery store or pharmacy, and you're met with aisle upon aisle of colorful, eye-catching bottles with fine prints.

How can you decide which type of Omega-3 supplement is best for you? 

Choose fish oil supplements that combine docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the two main forms of omega-3 fatty acids that we get from fish, shellfish, and some algae and that are most beneficial to your health.

This post will discuss the various types, benefits, and what to look for when buying omega-3 supplements. If you don't eat fish or are just looking for the best possible health and wellness, taking an omega-3 supplement will be essential. 

What are the different types of omega-3?

One kind of polyunsaturated fat is omega-3s. Your body cannot produce them, and these fatty acids are essential for good health. You must obtain them from your diet.

Instead of being stored and used as energy, they help with numerous physiological processes, such as inflammation, heart health, and brain function.

Here are the three types: 

1. Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is your diet's most prevalent omega-3 fatty acid. It is a necessary precursor to either EPA or DHA and is primarily present in plant-based diets.

Humans, however, do not have an effective conversion process. The amount of ALA that transforms into EPA and DHA is low. Like other fats, ALA is stored or used as energy when not converted to EPA or DHA.

A diet high in ALA is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease in some observational studies.

The studies have found that a diet high in ALA is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease. Other plant-based foods, such as kale, spinach, purslane, soybeans, walnuts, and seeds, including chia, flax, and hemp, contain alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). 

Additionally, some animal fats contain it. A few seed oils, including canola and flaxseed (seed oil), are also high in ALA.

2. Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA

Your body uses eicosanoids, signaling molecules with various physiological functions and anti-inflammatory properties, using eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Low-level, chronic inflammation is the root cause of many common illnesses.

Numerous studies suggest that fish oil, rich in EPA and DHA, may lessen depression-related symptoms. Evidence shows that EPA is more beneficial than DHA in this context.

Another study found that EPA lessens the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women.

Most EPA and DHA are found in seafood, especially fatty fish and algae. 

Sturgeon, prawns, salmon, eels, and herring have the highest EPA concentrations. Dairy and meat products from grass-fed animals also contain some EPA.

3. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is a crucial structural element of the skin and retinas. In fact, adding DHA to baby formula helps the eyesight of newborns.  

DHA plays a critical role in brain development in children and adults. Deficits in DHA during early life are linked to issues later in life, including learning difficulties, ADHD, and hostile aggression.

Alzheimer's disease development and compromised brain function are also associated with a decline in DHA in later life.

DHA may be helpful when it comes to healing several ailments, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and certain malignancies. Additionally, it may improve heart health by lowering blood triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

As noted, fatty fish and algae are two types of seafood containing significant DHA levels. Animal products fed on grass also contain some DHA.

Additionally, there are several kinds of omega-3 supplements, each with a unique production and processing method. The manner in which the body processes omega-3 fatty acids is particularly significant, as it might modify its capacity to assimilate and utilize each unique variety.

The principal types of omega-3 fatty acids consist of:

  • Fish: Triglycerides, phospholipids, and free fatty acids are the forms of omega-3 fatty acids that are present in whole fish.
  • Fish oil: The omega-3 fatty acids are in triglyceride form in most over-the-counter fish oil supplements.
  • Processed fish oil: Fish oil supplements are occasionally processed to aid in purification. This produces a form of fish oil known as ethyl esters, which is not present in nature.
  • Reformed triglycerides: Triglycerides, sometimes called ethyl esters, are created when processed fish oil is heated and processed further.

While any of these forms can provide omega-3 advantages, the body might more readily absorb some forms. 

For example, a study published in the National Library of Medicine found that supplementing with EPA and DHA as triglycerides was more beneficial than supplementing with EPA and DHA as ethyl esters when boosting omega-3 status.

Which type of omega-3 is best?

The omega-3s DHA and EPA are the best. They are mostly present in seafood, such as fatty fish and algae, meat, dairy, and eggs that are pastured or enhanced with omega-3 fatty acids.

Notably, EPA and DHA can also form from ALA in certain high-fat plant foods, such as flax seeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds.

You should consider taking supplements if you don't eat some of these items.

What are the health benefits of omega-3?

A woman enjoying a bowl of omega-3 rich food, promoting health benefits through diet.

Omega 3 offers the following potent wellness benefits for your body and mind:

Alleviates anxiety and sadness

Research suggests that regular omega-3 fatty acid consumption lowers the risk of depression

Additionally, research on those suffering from anxiety and depression indicates that omega-3 supplementation may lessen symptoms.

EPA seems to be the most helpful of the three types of omega-3 for depression.

Read also: What Supplements Help With Anxiety? (10 Evidence Based Picks).

Improves eye health

One of the main structural elements of your retina is omega-3 fatty acid (DHA). If you don't consume enough DHA, you could develop visual issues.

Interestingly, macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of irreversible eye damage and blindness worldwide, and you can prevent it by consuming adequate omega-3 fatty acids.

Improves mental well-being

Omega-3 fatty acids can also benefit your brain. A 2018 study, which included data from 23,688 participants, showed that older adults who ate four or more servings of fish per week had reduced memory loss compared to those with a brain four years younger. 

It is also essential for infants to consume omega-3 fatty acids to grow and develop their brains.

Reduces heart disease risk factors

The two biggest causes of death worldwide are heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers noticed many years ago that societies that consumed fish had meager rates of these illnesses. Later, they connected the consumption of omega-3 to this.

Since then, there have been many links between omega-3 fatty acids and heart health benefits.

Decreases arthritic pain

Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and may help lessen arthritic pain. A 2006 study published in Surgical Neurology included 250 patients with back or neck pain who took omega-3 EFAs, which are present in fish oil supplements, for 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams per day. 

More than half stopped taking other painkillers. Sixty percent of the trial participants reported reduced joint and overall pain.

Prevents cancer

One of the main causes of death in the US is cancer, and omega-3 fatty acids have been known for years to lower the risk of developing several types of cancers.

In fact, some older research has linked the highest omega-3 dietary intake to a 55% reduction in the incidence of colon cancer. 

What are the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency?

According to a study published in Current Developments in Nutrition in 2022, many adults in the United States may lack EPA and DHA, two of the three main omega-3 fatty acids. 

A body lacking in omega-3 fats is considered omega-3 deficient, and it could put you at risk for detrimental health repercussions. 

Here are some symptoms that indicate whether you may be deficient:

Skin irritation and dryness

Your skin is one of the first areas of your body to show signs of omega-3 fat deficiency. For example, some people may have sensitive, dry skin or even an extraordinary increase in acne as a sign of omega-3 insufficiency.

Omega-3 fats strengthen the integrity of the skin's protective layers by retaining moisture and shielding the skin from irritants that might cause dryness and irritation.

For three months, women in a small trial received a daily dose of 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) of ALA-rich flaxseed oil. Compared to the women who took a placebo, the women who took it had skin that was over 40% more hydrated and less rough.

In certain cases, having more acne than usual could be a symptom of an omega-3 deficit. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids mitigate inflammation, which is a contributing factor to acne.

You can use them as a stand-alone or combined with traditional treatments. Alternatively, consider the 5-in-1 Why Not Natural Blood Sugar & Inflammation capsules for a mix of potent anti-inflammatory substances.

Additionally, some research found that omega-3 supplements may help lessen skin irritation and acne outbreaks. Others suggest that supplements containing EPA and DHA may lessen skin sensitivity to UV light.

Exhaustion and difficulty falling asleep

Since so many factors can affect sleep, it might be difficult to identify the exact origin of the issue, but a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids is most likely the culprit. Raising your levels can greatly enhance the quantity and quality of your sleep. 

Getting better sleep also offers numerous other health advantages.

Overproduction of earwax

Increasing their omega-3 levels may benefit people sick of having sludge in their ears. However, this is a peculiar complaint. Excessive ear wax accumulation is annoying and can cause hearing loss. 

Eating adequate omega-3 fatty acids can help preserve hearing. One study found that people who included enough fatty acid supplements in their self-care regimen had a 14% lower chance of hearing loss.

Depression

Omega-3 fats are recognized to have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties and are an integral part of the brain.

They might possibly aid in the treatment of brain illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases like bipolar disorder, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Numerous research indicates a link between an increased risk of depression and a low omega-3 level.

According to a review of 26 trials, including 2,160 people, consuming omega-3 supplements helped reduce symptoms of depression.

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of some mental health diseases, even though several factors contribute to the development of mental health disorders. Consult your doctor to find out if you have depression and what kind of treatment is best.

Dry eyes

Omega-3 fats are important for maintaining the moisture content of the eyes and may even stimulate the production of tears.

This is why many medical professionals recommend omega-3 supplements to treat dry eye symptoms, which frequently manifest as eye irritation and even visual abnormalities.

Another noteworthy study investigated the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in 64 patients with dry eye syndrome. One group of patients took two capsules per day, 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA. The other group members received a placebo.

After 30 days, those who had received omega-3 supplements reported increased tear production, reduced symptoms of dry eyes, and decreased tear evaporation.

An increase in dry eyes could indicate that you're not getting enough omega-3 fats in your diet.

Nevertheless, a variety of medical disorders may exacerbate the symptoms of dry eyes. You must consult your healthcare professional if you have dry eyes or any other symptoms related to your eyes.

Joint stiffness and pain

Certain characteristics of omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and maintain joint health. Reduced levels of omega-3 may be indicated by increased joint stiffness and pain, which supplements may help relieve. 

Increasing your intake of omega-three can assist in halting the processes that lead to joint tissue deterioration and the inflammatory reaction that produces pain. 

According to certain research, consuming omega-3 supplements improves grip strength and lessens joint pain. Studies suggest that PUFAs may benefit osteoarthritis, although further human trials are required.

Hair changes

Omega-3 fats support the hair’s health in the same way as the skin's hydration barrier. Alterations in hair density, integrity, and texture may indicate a low omega-3 level.

In one six-month trial, 120 female volunteers took a daily supplement including omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and omega-6 fats. Compared to the control group, those who had taken the supplement at the end of the trial had more hair density and less hair loss.

Taking fish oil supplements may be beneficial if you notice a thinning hairline, increasing hair loss, or dry, brittle hair.

Inability to focus and pay attention

Inadequate amounts of important fatty acids can cause anxiety and irritation, in addition to memory and focus problems. Children and adults who appear to lose their temper easily and without cause could suffer from an omega-3 deficiency.

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WhyNotNatural Dietary Supplement: B12 Methylcobalamin, organic cherry flavor.

Cardiovascular problems

Triglycerides are a separate risk factor for cardiovascular disease that EPA and DHA can lower. According to the National Institutes of Health, taking foods high in omega-3s may reduce the chance of developing cardiac problems. 

Enhances menstrual health

Raising their omega-3 intake may help women with heavy, protracted clotting periods.

How much omega-3 does my body need?

The recommended dosage for fish oil can change significantly based on why you are taking it.

Prioritize consuming your omega-3s through diet. Above all, healthy adults without a history of heart disease should consume two servings of fatty fish per week. 

A healthy adult should take 400–500 mg of mixed EPA and DHA fish oil daily in supplement form.

Individuals who have excessive triglyceride levels may be able to take 2 to 4 grams of combined EPA and DHA daily, but they should first speak with their physician. Those with coronary heart disease may take 1,000 mg of this combination daily. 

Most people benefit from taking a fish oil supplement with a prescription while taking large doses.

When expecting or nursing, you should increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids as follows:

  • 0.3 grams of DHA and EPA, with at least 0.2 grams coming from DHA
  • 1.4 grams of ALA when expecting
  • 1.3 grams of ALA when nursing

The Food and Drug Administration For the sake of fetal growth and development, it is advisable that women who are pregnant or nursing consume 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish per week.

Both male and female newborns should take 0.5 g of total omega-3s up until the age of one. Human milk includes ALA, DHA, and EPA for breastfed newborns.

Higher dosages support fatty liver, lower inflammation, and lower triglycerides. Patients with acute traumatic brain injury have taken doses as high as 8 to 12 grams with good outcomes.

However, consuming more than three grams of fish oil supplementation daily may be hazardous for most people. 

Before including any dietary supplements in your regimen, see your physician and a licensed dietitian nutritionist to find the appropriate dosage for your needs.

What happens if I take omega-3 daily?

Taking omega-3 supplements daily can provide various benefits, including improved heart health, cognitive function, and reduced inflammation. 

However, it's essential to follow the recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking medications.

How long does it take for omega-3 to start working?

The time it takes for omega-3 supplements to start showing positive results can vary depending on the individual and the specific health condition they are addressing. 

For some benefits, such as improved heart health and reduced inflammation, effects may be noticeable within a few weeks to a few months. 

However, significant improvements in cognitive function and brain health may take several months.

What happens if my omega-3 level is high?

One significant concern associated with omega-3 supplementation is the potential for fish oil to thin blood, which could prolong bleeding time in the event of an injury. 

As a result, if you currently take blood thinners, you should consult a healthcare professional before taking these supplements. 

You should also avoid fish oils one week before surgery to avoid severe bleeding.

Certain brands could leave a person's tongue tasting fishy. Freeze the fish oil before consuming it if you encounter this side effect since it could lessen the symptoms. 

Supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may also interfere with the drugs you take. For instance, taking large amounts of omega-3s along with warfarin (Coumadin) or other anticoagulant medications may result in bleeding issues.

Discuss potential interactions between prescriptions and omega-3 supplements with your doctor.

Other, usually minor side effects include heartburn, diarrhea, and nausea. If you have any adverse effects, consult your physician to determine whether better solutions are available.

Lastly, you should not take fish oil if you are allergic or intolerant.

Can I take omega-3 supplements without consulting a doctor?

While omega-3 supplements are widely available and generally safe, consulting with a healthcare professional is always recommended before starting any new supplement regimen. 

This is especially important if you have any medical conditions, are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are taking medications that may interact with omega-3s.

Who should avoid taking omega-3?

Any person with certain medical conditions or taking specific medications may need to avoid or limit their omega-3 intake. These include:

  • People with a bleeding problem or taking blood-thinning medications since omega-3s may increase bleeding risk.
  • Omega 3 supplements may cause allergic reactions in individuals with fish or shellfish allergies.
  • People with diabetes or taking diabetes medications, since omega-3s may affect blood sugar levels.

What foods are rich in omega-3?

Omega-3s and Omega-3 supplements - The best sources of omega-3s are fatty fish, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fortified foods, and krill oil.

While supplements can be a convenient way to increase omega-3 intake, it's always best to obtain these nutrients from whole foods whenever possible. Some of the best dietary sources of omega-3s include:

  • Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are excellent sources of EPA and DHA.
  • Nuts and seeds: WALA is rich in walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds 
  • Plant oils: Algal, flaxseed, and canola oils contain varying amounts of ALA.
  • Fortified foods: Some foods, like eggs, milk, and juices, are fortified with omega-3s.
  • Krill oil: This is produced from Atlantic krill, a small, shrimp-like crustacean

What should I look for when buying omega-3 supplements?

So, which omega-3 supplement is the best available? Here are a few things to consider when selecting the best fish oil supplements to ensure you get the most value for your money:

Form

Choose an omega-3 supplement with phospholipids, free fatty acids, or triglycerides to maximize absorption. Avoid ethyl esters-based supplements; while they are less expensive and simpler to produce, they are not nearly as effective as the triglycerides naturally present in whole foods.

Type

The body uses DHA and EPA as active forms of omega-3 fatty acids, and most supplements include a decent balance of the two to provide a host of health benefits. 

Conversely, ALA is included in many plant-based supplements (such as vegan omega-3s) and doesn’t transform into DHA or EPA.

Dosage

Deciphering the dosage of your omega-3 supplement can be a challenge. Many products with a high milligram total of omega-3s have far lower EPA and DHA content.

Freshness

Like other meals, fish oil capsules can grow rancid over time, reducing possible health benefits. Apart from examining the expiration date, the simplest and most reliable method to ascertain freshness is to crack open the capsule and detect any rancidity in the taste and aroma.

Purity

Getting fish oil from companies that have earned certification from outside organizations like Eurofins or the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) is advisable. 

These organizations can guarantee that you receive a high-quality product devoid of impurities, toxins, heavy metals, and oxidation since they have stringent purity criteria.

Reviews

When searching for the finest omega-3 supplement brand, always buy from a reliable supplier with a solid track record of providing high-quality supplements and many available customer reviews.

Takeaway: Prioritize your Omega-3 intake for optimal health

While all omega-3 fatty acids are essential, the ones that contain EPA and DHA are generally considered the best choice for most individuals. By prioritizing your omega-3 intake through supplements and omega-3-rich foods, you can reap the numerous benefits these incredible nutrients offer for your overall health and well-being.

While supplements can be a convenient option, always consult with your doctor before taking any, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications. 

Are you trying to find the best place to get supplements? Why Not Natural is the go-to place. 

We offer pure nutrients that work the way your body craves. All of our vitamins are bioavailable and entirely natural. They are free of allergies, artificial additives, fillers, and preservatives. They've also undergone independent testing for potency and purity.

Do you want to achieve a healthy, well-balanced diet? Order Why Not Natural dietary supplements today to receive the vital elements missing from your diet.
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