Medically reviewed on May 17, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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A nutritious diet is made up of countless essential nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids—one of which is omega-3.
What is omega-3 good for? Besides supporting a variety of critical cell functions in the body, omega-3 fatty acids can offer other potential health benefits, like improved heart health, fertility support, and more.
In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about omega-3 fatty acids, including their general purpose, additional health benefits, and different nutritional sources (learn more about Everlywell omega-3 fish oil supplements).
Omega-3s are a group of three fatty acids used for a variety of human bodily functions.
Let’s explore each acid in the omega-3 group :
All three fatty acids in the omega-3 group play a critical role in cellular health in the human body, particularly in eye, brain, and sperm cells. As one of many components in cell membranes, omega-3s perform the following key tasks :
So how much omega-3 should one take on a daily basis? While medical experts haven’t created official recommendations for total omega-3 intake each day, they recommend ALA daily values specifically. These recommendations are based upon age, sex, and pregnancy status.
Experts recommend the following daily values :
If you’re not getting enough omega-3s, you may experience scaly, itchy skin or a dry rash. However, omega-3 deficiency is uncommon in the US.
It’s also important to note that the FDA doesn’t recommend consuming more than 5 grams of any omega-3 acid per day. If you do take too much, you may experience mild symptoms, like bad breath, heartburn, or headache.
Without omega-3s, your cells couldn’t perform crucial tasks to sustain life. But what is omega-3 good for besides performing basic functions?
Let’s explore a few examples of how healthy omega-3 consumption can also potentially improve other health outcomes.
Since omega-3s are crucial for the production of hormones that regulate arterial contraction and blood clotting, researchers have spent ample time studying the general impacts of omega-3s on human heart health.
Recent studies suggest that treatment with EPA and DHA could reduce or prevent the following cardiovascular issues :
Recent research also suggests that omega-3s can reduce the risks associated with revascularization—various treatments used to improve circulation in obstructed arteries, such as stent placement and bypass surgeries .
Before adding more omega-3s to your daily nutrient regimen, consult a healthcare provider for expert guidance specific to your personal health status.
It’s crucial that pregnant people consume healthy levels of omega-3s during the early stages of fetal development. For this reason, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that pregnant people eat at least 8 (but no more than 12) ounces of low-mercury seafood each week .
A 2016 study determined that omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy resulted in two positive outcomes:
While supplementation didn’t decrease the likelihood of low birth weight or premature birth, even small, positive changes to gestation nutrition can lead to improved post-natal outcomes.
Interestingly, one study in Denmark found that the infants of pregnant people with low EPA and DHA levels pre-supplementation were less likely to develop mild respiratory issues, like persistent wheezing and asthma in early childhood, post-supplementation . While researchers need to conduct further studies to confirm these findings, the information could indicate even further potential benefits of maintaining healthy omega-3 levels during pregnancy.
Healthy omega-3 levels pre-pregnancy may also improve fertility outcomes . Recent research suggests that omega-3 supplementation to FDA-recommended levels may improve both sperm and egg performance when trying to conceive.
Since omega-3s jump-start hormone production, regulate clotting and blood flow, and help reduce cellular inflammation that can decrease cell function, healthy omega-3 levels may promote improved uterine health and an increased likelihood of implantation .
Among other vitamins and nutrients, omega-3s contributed to increased sperm count in over 28 studies . An additional study suggests that omega-3 supplementation can improve antioxidant activity in semen and increase sperm motility—one of many sperm characteristics that can impact successful fertilization .
Maintaining recommended omega-3 levels may positively impact brain health and function, especially as you age. Multiple studies have explored the link between omega-3s and adult brain health, publishing a variety of conclusions:
There are a few major reasons why omega-3s could provide positive skin health benefits based on their primary function in the body :
The National Institutes of Health recommend two major sources of omega-3s—food and supplements .
Food products that include significant amounts of omega-3s are:
Food products often fortified with additional omega-3s include:
Omega-3 supplements are useful for people who don’t eat enough of the food above to achieve optimal levels. A typical, 1,000mg dose of fish oil—the most common omega-3 supplement—contains 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA.
Another benefit of omega-3 supplements is reduced mercury exposure risks. While some seafood products can contain mercury in relatively high concentrations, these compounds are usually removed during the supplement purification process.
Maintaining healthy omega-3 fatty acid levels can help the body complete vital cellular functions, and research continues to reveal other possible health benefits.
Omega-3 fish oil supplements from Everlywell are third-party tested softgels that are an excellent way to help ensure you get enough omega-3. Everlywell also offers a subscription option so that you can skip the grocery store and still maintain a steady supply (you save 10%!).
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