Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This is a reader-friendly overview of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. For more details, see our health professional fact sheet on Omega-3 Fatty Acids .

What are omega-3 fatty acids and what do they do?

omega-3 fatty acid fatso acids are found in foods, such as fish and linseed, and in dietary supplements, such as fish vegetable oil .
The three main omega-3 fatty acid fatso acids are alpha-linolenic acerb ( ALA ), eicosapentaenoic acid ( EPA ), and docosahexaenoic acid ( DHA ). ALA is found chiefly in implant oils such as linseed, soy, and canola oil oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood .
ALA is an essential fatso acid, meaning that your body can ’ thyroxine make it, so you must get it from the foods and beverages you consume. Your torso can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA, but only in identical small amounts. therefore, getting EPA and DHA from foods ( and dietary supplements if you take them ) is the merely practical room to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids in your body.

omega-3 fatty acid are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA levels are specially eminent in retina ( eye ), brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s besides provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your center, lineage vessels, lungs, immune arrangement, and endocrine organization ( the network of hormone -producing glands ) .

How much omega-3s do I need?

Experts have not established recommend amounts for omega-3 fatty acid fatso acids, except for ALA. Average daily recommended amounts for ALA are listed below in grams ( guanine ). The sum you need depends on your historic period and sex .

Life Stage
Recommended Amount of ALA

Birth to 12 months*
0.5 g

Children 1–3 years
0.7 g

Children 4–8 years
0.9 g

Boys 9–13 years
1.2 g

Girls 9–13 years
1.0 g

Teen boys 14–18 years
1.6 g

Teen girls 14–18 years
1.1 g

1.6 g

1.1 g

Pregnant teens and women
1.4 g

Breastfeeding teens and women
1.3 g

*As full omega-3 fatty acid. All early values are for ALA alone .

What foods provide omega-3s?

omega-3 fatty acid are found naturally in some foods and are added to some fortified foods. You can get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acid by eating a variety of foods, including the follow :

  • Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
  • Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
  • Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
  • Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)

What kinds of omega-3 dietary supplements are available?

omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplements include fish oil, krill vegetable oil, pod liver-colored anoint, and algal oil ( a vegetarian source that comes from alga ). They provide a wide range of doses and forms of omega-3 fatty acid .

Am I getting enough omega-3s?

Most people in the United States get enough ALA from the foods they eat. They besides get small amounts of EPA and DHA. Recommended amounts of EPA and DHA have not been established .

What happens if I don’t get enough omega-3s?

A lack of omega-3 fatty acid can cause approximate, scaly bark and a crimson, swell, antsy rash. omega-3 fatty acid lack is very rare in the United States .

What are some effects of omega-3s on health?

Scientists are studying omega-3 fatty acid to understand how they affect health. People who eat fish and early seafood have a lower risk of several chronic diseases. But it is not clear whether these health benefits come from plainly eating these foods or from the omega-3 fatty acid in these foods. here are some examples of what the research has shown .
Cardiovascular disease

Many studies show that eating fatso fish and other types of seafood as part of a goodly consume blueprint helps keep your heart healthy and helps protect you from some heart problems. Getting more EPA and DHA from foods or dietary supplements lowers triglyceride levels, for case .
The American Heart Association ( AHA ) recommends eating one to two servings of seafood per week to reduce your risk of some heart problems, specially if you consume the seafood in place of less healthy foods. For people with center disease, the AHA recommends consuming about 1 g per day EPA plus DHA, preferably from oily fish, but supplements are an choice under the guidance of a healthcare provider. The AHA does not recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements for people who do not have a eminent risk of cardiovascular disease.

Infant health and development

During pregnancy and breastfeed, eating 8 to 12 ounces per week of fish and early seafood may improve your baby ’ s health. however, it is significant to choose pisces that are higher in EPA and DHA and lower in mercury. Examples are salmon, herring, sardines, and trout. It is not clear whether taking dietary supplements containing EPA and DHA during pregnancy or breastfeed affects a baby ’ s health or development. however, some studies show that taking these supplements may slenderly increase a child ’ randomness weight at birth and the length of time the baby is in the uterus, both of which may be beneficial. Breast milk contains DHA. Most commercial baby formulas besides contain DHA .
Cancer prevention

Some studies suggest that people who get more omega-3 fatty acid from foods and dietary supplements may have a lower risk of front cancer and possibly colorectal cancer. But a bombastic clinical trial found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements did not reduce the overall gamble of cancer, or the risk of breast, prostate gland, or colorectal cancers. other clinical trials in advance will help clarify whether omega-3 fatty acid affect cancer risk .
Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive function

Some—but not all—research shows that people who consume more omega-3 fatty acid from food such as pisces may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer ‘s disease, dementia, and other problems with cognitive affair. More discipline of the effects of omega-3 fatty acid on the mind is needed .
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a major cause of vision passing among older adults. Studies suggest that people who get higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acid from the foods they eat may have a lower risk of developing AMD. But once person has AMD, taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements does not keep the disease from getting worse or slow down vision loss .
Dry eye disease

Dry eye disease occurs when tears don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate provide enough moisture, causing eye discomfort and vision problems. Some studies show that getting more omega-3 fatty acid from foods or supplements—mainly EPA and DHA—helps relieve symptoms of dry eye disease. But a large, recent study found that the symptoms of people with dry center disease who took fish oil supplements of 2,000 mg EPA plus 1,000 mg DHA daily for 1 year did not improve any more than those who took a placebo ( a dummy pill ). More research on the effects of omega-3 fatty acid on dry eye disease is needed .
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

RA causes chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, and personnel casualty of function in the joints. Some clinical trials have shown that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help manage RA when taken together with standard RA medications and other treatments. For example, people with RA who take omega-3 fatty acid supplements may need less pain-relief medication, but it is not clear if the supplements reduce joint annoyance, swelling, or good morning stiffness .
Other conditions

Researchers are studying whether taking omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplements may help lessen some of the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity perturb, childhood allergies, and cystic fibrosis. But more research is needed to amply understand the likely benefits of omega-3 fatty acid for these and early conditions .

Can omega-3s be harmful?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 5 g/day of EPA and DHA combined from dietary supplements. Any side effects from taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements are normally mild. They include an unpleasant taste in the mouth, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, abdomen discomfort, diarrhea, headache, and fetid perspiration .

Do omega-3s interact with medications or other dietary supplements?

omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplements may interact with the medications you take. For example, high doses of omega-3 fatty acid may cause bleeding problems when taken with warfarin ( Coumadin® ) or other anticoagulant medicines.

talk with your healthcare supplier about potential interactions between omega-3 fatty acid supplements and your medications .

Omega-3s and healthful eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food and beverages, according to the union government ’ s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other components that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements are utilitarian when it is not possible to meet needs for one or more nutrients ( for example, during specific liveliness stages such as pregnancy ). For more information about building a healthy dietary practice, see the Dietary Guidelines for Americans external link disclaimer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ’ second MyPlate. external link disclaimer

Where can I find out more about omega-3s?


This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements ( ODS ) provides data that should not take the place of checkup advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers ( doctor, registered dietician, pharmacist, etc. ) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this issue of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional club, does not represent an endorsement by ODS of that product, service, or adept advice .

source :
Category : Healthy