May 02, 2022

7 Reasons It’s Time to Up Your Omega-3s

Written By

Frances Gatta

Medically Reviewed By

Vinita Tandon, MD

Medical Director

Fat is back. The once-vilified macronutrient has earned back its place in a healthy diet, and omega-3 fatty acids have a lot to do with that. 

Not only are omega-3s necessary for a healthy, balanced diet, they support the body's optimal functioning. Numerous studies show that omega-3s impact everything from brain function, heart health, and fetal health, to weight management, immune health, and sleep. Evidence even suggests that consuming omega-3-rich foods can extend a person’s lifespan by about five years. And yet, more than 80% of people aren’t getting enough. 

Here’s what you need to know about this essential fat, and why you should up your intake, stat.

What Are Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that play a massive role in helping build and maintain a healthy body and brain, says Lifeforce's Medical Director, Dr. Vinita Tandon. They are an essential fat, meaning we can’t make them on our own, so we need to get them from our diet or supplements. And they’re essential for good reason: omega-3s energize the body, while also reducing the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, cancer, inflammatory conditions, and sudden death. 

The three types of omega-3s are:

  1. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

  2. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

  3. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

You can get EPA and DHA from seafood and fatty fish like salmon, oysters, crab, and tuna. ALA is in plant sources, such as edamame, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, leafy greens, and avocados. 

The body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA, but only in small amounts. Having foods rich in DHA and EPA is the best way to meet your omega-3 needs, says Dr. Tandon. Trouble is, not all of us are fans of fish, or have access to enough omega-3s in our diets. That's where a supplement like Lifeforce Omega can help. 

More Omegas, Please

So how much omega-3 do you need? Dr. Tandon recommends having a variety of fish at least twice a week, or taking a daily supplement like Lifeforce Omega. “Most research suggests taking at least 1 to 2 grams of EPA and DHA daily if you don’t have cardiovascular disease. If someone has high triglycerides (a fat in the body) or a high triglyceride to HDL ratio (which increases the risk of heart diseases), then a higher dose may be recommended,” she says. 

Reaching for the right supplement is also key. According to Dr. Hector Lopez, Lifeforce’s Scientific and Innovation Advisor and world-renowned expert in dietary supplement formulation and safety, Lifeforce Omega supports three times better absorption of omega-3s, while also promoting optimal blood sugar and cholesterol levels, healthy inflammation response, and mitochondrial health. 

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7 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Omega-3s

Still not convinced omega-3s should be a fixture in your daily diet? Here are 7 research-backed reasons it’s time to increase your omega-3 intake.

1. Promotes Immune Health

A strong and healthy immune system will help keep you from calling out sick. It’ll also help you recover when you do. Omega-3s are one of the key nutrients that promote the healthy functioning of your immune system. One 2020 study describes omega-3s as “a safe, effective, and low-cost strategy to help support optimal immune function.”

2. Supports Mental Health 

More good news: Omega-3s have a powerful impact on mental health, including mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. 

A 2013 study found that depressive and anxiety symptoms are associated with low omega-3 levels. Another study on the effects of omega-3 supplementation on inflammation and anxiety in healthy young adults showed that omega-3 supplements may reduce anxiety levels and inflammation in people without anxiety disorders. And a 2018 review suggests that high doses of omega-3s may reduce the severity of anxiety symptoms for those with anxiety disorders. 

What’s more, inadequate omega-3 intake is associated with an increased risk of having other mental disorders like schizophrenia, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism.

A review published in the Nordic journal of psychiatry found that fish oil supplementation is a potential dietary intervention for reducing ADHD symptoms in children. Similarly, another review observed that numerous studies suggest that increasing omega-3 intake may reduce the occurrence of ADHD, aggressive behaviors, and depression in young adults. 

3. Keeps Your Brain Sharp

Concerned about healthy brain development and slowing cognitive decline? Another reason to stock up on omega-3s. According to some studies, consuming omega-3-rich foods may reduce a person’s likelihood of developing age-related mental disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

A review observed that increasing omega-3 intake may protect a person against risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Similarly, a 2019 review observed that omega-3s may prevent mild cognitive impairment and age-related cognitive decline. 

4. Promotes Healthy Bones

Regularly consuming omega-3s may also benefit your bones and joints. A 2020 study found that omega-3 supplements can help maintain healthy and strong bones and reduce the risk of bone disease like osteoporosis in people at risk, including older women.

Additionally, a 2007 study found that omega-3s may reduce joint pain and swelling, morning stiffness, and the need to take pain relief medications. The study noted that omega-3s may treat joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual cramps, and inflammatory bowel disease.

5. Protects Heart Health 

According to Dr. Tandon, “One of the most important benefits of omega-3s is reducing the risk of heart diseases, which lowers the overall risk of mortality and sudden death.”

Research shows that omega-3s are “heart-healthy” unsaturated fats that may promote good heart health and reduce the risk of death from heart disease and heart attack. The researchers found that omega-3s may protect the heart in the following ways:

  • Reduce triglyceride levels

  • Increase HDL levels (good cholesterol)

  • Reduce resting blood pressure

  • Reduce the risk of blood clots

  • Decrease the risk of irregular heart rhythm

  • Increase arterial compliance, a marker of heart health 

  • Reduce inflammatory markers

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6. Supports Fetal Development

The benefits of omega-3s get passed down to baby, too. Omega-3s are essential nutrients that promote a baby’s healthy development in the womb and during its first few years. 

Evidence suggests that DHA constitutes 97% of omega-3s in the brain and 93% of omega-3s in the retina. The review further highlighted that DHA has significant benefits in brain and retina development from the third trimester to 18 months after birth. 

An older study shows that omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy may support cognitive development and improve hand and eye coordination in children. And, another study found that omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy may promote healthy brain development, especially with memory and cognition in the child. 

Experts recommend that pregnant women increase their omega-3 intake to 650 mg a day. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish and other seafood a week to support their baby’s health. Just be sure to stick to fish higher in EPA and DHA and lower in mercury like salmon, shrimp, catfish, sardines, and trout.

7. Promotes Better Sleep 

About one-third of US adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night. Add to that the 50 to 70 million people suffering from sleep disorders, and you get a perfect storm of sleep deficiency, decreased productivity, focus, alertness, and more. Poor sleep is also associated with long-term health consequences like heart diseases, depression, obesity, and diabetes.

Although the benefits of omega-3s for promoting healthy sleep are still being established, studies suggest a link between omega-3 levels and healthy sleep duration. That’s why many experts recommend increasing omega-3 intake to help you optimize your zzz’s. And if you need a little more support when it comes to falling and staying asleep, check out Peak Rest™ here. 

Ready to boost your omega-3s? Learn more about Lifeforce Omega here. 

The article was medically reviewed by: 

  • Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism