Omega-3 fish oil supplements are some of the most popularly consumed supplements worldwide. Its benefits are numerous for both human beings and animals. If you hate oily fish or just don’t eat it much, consuming Omega-3 fish oil supplements would give you the necessary omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Omega-3 Fish oil supplements are derived from the fish tissue of fatty fishes like anchovies, tuna, mackerel, and herring. Contrary to the popular belief, omega-3 can be obtained from plant-based sources as well. But the health benefits of fish-based omega-3 are far more than those derived from plant-based sources.
What does Omega-3 fish oil do for your body?
If you have been browsing the internet, you must have come across a lot of benefits of omega-3 fish oil. We have curated 5 of the most prominent and proven benefits of omega-3 fish oil.
1. Support eye health
Your eyes need omega-3 fatty acids. If you haven’t been taking these on a regular basis, you are likely to be more prone to eye diseases than others who take it regularly. Further, omega-3 fish oil supplements can reduce the effects of AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration) in older people.
2. Improves Heart Health
Fish oil can improve your heart health in a number of ways. Regular consumption of Omega-3 fish oil supplements can improve the levels of good HDL cholesterol and lower the triglyceride concentration by 15 to 30%. Further, the fish oil supplement is a holy grail for people suffering from high blood pressure. Even when consumed in very small quantities, fish oil supplements reduce high blood pressure in adults.
3. Assist Normal Brain function
The human brain consists of 60% fats, and most of these fats contain omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, omega-3 is known to assist in the normal brain function of human beings. Additionally, some research studies point towards the ability of omega-3 fatty to prevent some onset symptoms of mental disorders.
4. Support Healthy and Glowing skin
Since your skin is the biggest organ in your body, a major part of it contains omega-3 fatty acids. However, as you grow older, skin health can decline drastically. Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can prevent many onset symptoms related to various skin diseases. Further, it can also do some damage repair caused by over-exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
5. Improve Alertness in Children
If your child appears to be hyperactive and can’t concentrate on a particular thing for a long duration, omega-3 fatty acid supplements might help them. Fish oil-based omega-3 supplements promote alertness in children and reduce aggression shown by them during the early ages. Additionally, regular consumption can also help with preventing a number of behavioral disorders as well.
Effects of consuming Omega-3 fatty acids daily
While omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits, they also have some side effects that can undo all those benefits you gain.
1. Cause an increase in the blood sugar levels
Consuming an inordinate amount of omega-3 fish oil supplements can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. When you consume large quantities of omega-3 fatty acids, it triggers the production of glucose in the blood, which causes increased levels of long-term blood sugar levels.
2. Bleeding of different parts of the body
If not consumed as per the doctor’s prescription, omega-3 fatty acids can cause bleeding gums and nosebleeds. The results of a study conducted on 56 people who consumed 640 grams of fish oil daily for four weeks indicate that it decreased the blood clotting in adults. For this reason, doctors advise the patients to not take any kind of fish oil-rich foods before a major surgery.
Also, if you are someone who consumes blood thinners, the regular consumption of fish oil can be harmful.
3. Symptoms of diarrhea
Diarrhea is one of the common side-effects of overconsumption of fish oils. Diarrhea can not only be caused by fish oil-based omega-3 supplements but also plant-based omega-3 supplements. As this is one of the most drastic side-effects caused by omega-3 fatty acids, it's important to consult a doctor before you start popping the supplement pills, especially if you are someone who suffers from bowel-related problems.
How long does it take for Omega-3 to show effects on your body?
Once you take those supplement pills, it takes about 3 to 4 hours for the omega-3 fatty acids to actually hit your bloodstream. Then it takes another 24 hours for the DHA and EPA of Omega-3 fish oil fatty acids to finally saturate the red blood cell membranes. That said, this doesn’t mean that you get to see any difference in the Omega-3 Index score.
The time it takes for omega-3 fatty acids to show their effects on the body varies from person to person. Once you start intaking those supplement pills, the levels of omega-3 in your body will build up dramatically. But it could easily take anywhere between 6 weeks to six months to actually see the effects on your body.
How to increase the Omega-3 levels in your blood?
You can either increase the omega-3 in your blood by supplements or by consuming omega-3 rich foods. If it is in the form of supplements, try not to exceed 3000mg of combined EPA and DHA in a day. Some omega-3-rich food items are:
|Sno.||Food item||Mg of Omega-3 per serving||Plant-Based (PB) or Animal-Based (AB)|
|3||Cod Liver Oil||2,682||AB|
Even though walnut, chia seeds, and flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, consumption of these food items doesn’t improve the health of the eyes, heart, or skin as mentioned above. This is because plant-based omega-3 fatty acids are rich in alpha-linolenic acid or ALA.
Omega-3 fatty acids obtained from animal-based products are rich in EPA+DHA, and these compounds are responsible for the spike in your omega-3 fatty acid index.
So, no matter how many chia seeds or walnuts you consume daily in your smoothie or pudding, you can't expect it to make any difference in your omega-3 index.
What type of Omega-3 fatty acid is best for your body?
Before you decide which type of omega-3 fatty acid is the best choice for your body, you need to know the different forms in which this nutrient is available in the market. Fish oil-based based fatty acids are found in both natural and processed forms. The more the fatty acids get processed, the more difficult it becomes for the body to absorb and process them.
Some of the commonly available forms include:
1. In raw fish
In raw fishes such as mackerel, sardines, and tuna, the fatty acids are present in the form of free fatty acids, triglycerides, and phospholipids. The best way to intake omega-3 fatty acid is to consume it in its purest form. Thus, try to include fatty fishes as much as possible in your diet.
2. Fish oils
In the conventional fish oils, the omega-3 fatty acids can be found in the form of triglycerides. On the other hand, in the processed fish oils, the triglycerides are converted to ethyl esters, which helps the chemists adjust the concentration of DHA and EPA in them.
3. Krill oils
Krill oil is extracted from a shrimp-like animal named Antarctic Krill. The oil contains omega-3 fatty acids in both phospholipid and triglyceride forms. Some studies prove that your body absorbs the phospholipids from Krill oil better than the triglyceride obtained from the fish oils.
Another benefit of consuming krill oil is that its purification process is considerably less tedious than that of fish oils. Antarctic Krill are characterized by their shorter life span, which means that the dirt accumulation in their body is minimal.
4. Reformed Triglyceride form
The ethyl esters that are usually found in the processed fish oils can be converted back into the triglyceride form and this is known as the reformed triglycerides.
All these forms of fish oil have their own benefits, but your body likes it best when the fatty acids come in their natural forms. Also, the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids from the ethyl ester form isn’t as effective when compared to the absorption rate in the natural free fatty acids and triglyceride form.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of the human body; therefore, you need to include them in your diet somehow. If possible, consume the omega-3 rich foods in their raw form. To ensure better absorption of the fatty acids, cook those food sources minimally and then consume them. If you are allergic to fish, fish oil-based supplements would do the trick.
With that said, overconsumption of omega-3 fatty acids can cause a lot of side effects that completely overshadow the benefits. Therefore, it's important to consult a doctor before your start taking your supplements. Further, you must know the current status of mega-3 fatty acid content in your body before you start taking the supplement pills.
Fish oil supplements are safe as long as you stick to the amount prescribed by your dietician. If possible, try to gain the daily amount from whole foods so that you get other vital nutrients as well.