Omega-3 : What are the sources and benefits

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr. Abdul Khalique, MD Written by - Dr. Shilpa R


What is omega -3?

Omega-3 fatty acids, often known as omega-3 oils, are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that play critical roles in the body’s functioning. They are abundant in nature and significantly impact human physiology and diet. Omega-3s are essential for life, but the human body cannot generate enough. Therefore, people must obtain crucial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids through food. The activities it performs within the body, dietary needs, supplies, interactions, and inadequacies are all covered in this article.

Omega-3 fatty acids, often known as omega-3 oils, are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that play critical roles in the body's functioning.

Facts to know about omega-3

  • George and Mildred Burr identified the importance of fatty acids to health in 1929.
  • Humans can only obtain the necessary omega-3 fatty acid ALA through diet because they cannot synthesize it.
  • When ALA is present, our bodies can use it to create EPA and DHA.


Different types of omega-3

There are three distinct kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, which may consist of:1Types | Researched based study from

  • ALA or Alpha-linolenic acid is found predominantly in vegetable oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola. The human body mainly utilizes ALA from food for energy, with minimal conversion to EPA and DHA.1Types | Researched based study from
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – discovered in algae and seafood, mainly fish.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – predominantly seen in algae and fishes.


What are the benefits of Omega 3 Fatty acid?

Omega-3s work in the body in several ways

  • Omega 3 is needed for the proper cellular function in the body.
  • They play a crucial role in producing and supporting cellular connections in our cell membranes.
  • They act as a precursor in synthesizing hormones that regulate blood clotting, blood vessel wall relaxation and contraction, and inflammation.
  • Gives the body energy and promotes the health of numerous bodily systems.
  • While essential to all of our cells, the cells in our brains and eyes contain a lot of omega-3s.
  • Additionally, omega-3s offer calories, which give our bodies energy.2Biological role| Researched based study from
  • Heart health – they lower blood pressure and triglycerides in the blood and increase HDL or good cholesterol, thus decreasing the chance of atherosclerosis, stroke, and other heart diseases.5Significance| Researched based study from
  • Baby’s health and development – omega-3 intake during pregnancy may help fetal growth, especially the brain and eyes, and boosts the baby’s weight and length of stay in the womb. Eating fish and other seafood with low mercury levels, such as salmon, sardines, and herring, is essential.6Significance| Researched based study from
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – using omega-3 supplements in addition to regular RA drugs and other treatments may help manage RA.7Significance| Researched based study from
  • Cancer prevention – Omega-3 may assist in preventing cancer, including breast cancer.8Significance| Researched based study from
  • Cognitive functions – increases brain blood flow and enhances learning, memory, cognitive health, and brain function.9Significance| Researched based study from And may help with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive problems.
  • Dry eye – Omega-3 fatty acids aid in reducing eye irritation and also seem to enhance the production of the oily component of tears, thus decreasing the symptoms of dry eyes.10Significance| Researched based study from
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – Older folks lose vision primarily due to AMD. The development of aberrant blood vessels that arise in macular degeneration caused by age and other retinal illnesses may be slowed down by omega-3 fatty acids.10Significance| Researched based study from
  • Additionally beneficial for depression, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal night sweats, maternal depression, type 2 diabetes, and asthma.11Significance| Researched based study from


What are the different sources of Omega 3 ?

What are the different sources of omega-3?

The following food sources and dietary supplements both include omega-3 fatty acids:3Sources| Researched based study from

Food sources

  • People can boost their omega-3 consumption by eating more particular types of seafood, seeds, and nuts.
  • Seafood, particularly cold-water fatty fish like sardines, herring, tuna, and salmon.
  • Seeds and nuts such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
  • Oils from a plant source, such as flaxseed, canola, and soybean oils.
  • Fortified foods include some milk varieties, yogurt, newborn formula, soy drinks, and eggs.3Sources| Researched based study from

A supplement

The following are examples of omega-3 nutritional supplements in a variety of quantities and forms:3Sources| Researched based study from

  • The fish oil.
  • Oil from krill.
  • Oil from cod liver.

Sourced from vegetarians

  • Oil made from flax seeds.
  • Algal oil.


Dietary requirement

Based on a person’s gender and age, they may need different amounts of omega-3 each day. AI is the typical daily recommended intakes in grams (g).4Dosage| Researched based study from

For infants till one year (the AIs refer to total omega-3s for newborns )

  • Birth to 6 months – 0.5 g/day
  • 7 to 12 months – 0.5 g/day

The AIs are limited to only ALA for those one and older since ALA is the only type of omega-3 necessary.

For kids

  • 1 to 3 years – 0.7 g/day
  • 4 to 8 years – 0.9 g/day

9 to 13 years

  • Men – 1.2 g/day
  • Women – 1.0 g/day

14 to 18 years

  • Men – 1.6 g/day
  • Women – 1.1 g/day
  • Pregnant women – 1.4 g/day
  • Lactating mothers – 1.3 g/day

19 to 50 years

  • Men – 1.6 g/day
  • Women – 1.1 g/day
  • Pregnant women – 1.4 g/day
  • Lactating mothers – 1.3 g/day4Dosage| Researched based study from

51 years and above

  • Men – 1.6 g/day
  • Women – 1.1 g/day


Identify the symptoms of deficiency

Symptoms of an omega-3 shortage include

  • Scaly, dry skin.
  • An increase in acne.
  • An irritated, itchy, and red rash.
  • Dry hair.
  • Hair thinning caused by hair loss.
  • Stiffness and joint pain.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Depression.

Those at risk for deficiencies

  • Fat restriction in the diet.
  • Malabsorption.
  • Patients under PUFA-free parenteral feeding.
  • Breastfeeding and pregnant women.

Side effects

Side effects of omega-3

If there are any negative consequences, they are often minor and include the following

  • A lousy taste in the mouth.
  • A bad breath.
  • Heartburn.
  • Itching.11Side effects| Researched based study from
  • Vomiting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Headache.
  • Smelly sweat.

The risk of an overdose could be the following

  • Might make bleeding more likely.
  • Mixed research results regarding how omega-3 fatty acids might influence prostate cancer risk.


Who should take precaution while taking omega-3?

In the following patients, caution and routine monitoring are advised

  • Those on anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications since omega-3 fatty acids can lower platelet activity.
  • Individuals who have seafood allergies.
  • People who are hypersensitive to a specific formulation of OM3FAs.11Precautions| Researched based study from


Interaction with other medicines

Before taking medicine, discussing any potential interactions between omega-3 dietary supplements and the medications a person takes with a healthcare professional is advised.

  • For instance, taking high doses of omega-3s, warfarin, other anticoagulants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may result in bleeding issues.12Interactions| Researched based study from



People should consume a majority of nutrients through food and drink. Foods provide nutrients that are good for the body, including minerals, vitamins, fiber from the diet, and other substances. When it is impossible to achieve nutrient requirements, especially during particular life phases like pregnancy, enriched foods, and nutritional supplements may be helpful in some circumstances. Furthermore, people should always treat supplements as pharmaceuticals and consult a doctor before using any.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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