Why Should You Supplement With Omega-3s?
Life Extension was among the first organizations to recommend omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil for heart health. In the simplest term: omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats!
The two most biologically important omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are found primarily in fish oil. While these are not essential as the body could build them from ALA – alpha linolenic acid – the production is not efficient.
A typical Western diet is often filled with foods containing high amounts of omega-6 fats (red meat, poultry, eggs, and most processed foods) and usually lacking omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes inflammation.
Thus it can be a good solution to obtain EPA and DHA through supplementation.
Adding More Omega-3 Fats to Your Daily Intake
You will automatically be exposed to a range of health benefits.
This includes support of: (1-4)
- Cardiovascular health: A healthy heart function, lowered blood pressure, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and events
- Brain health: A healthy brain function, protection against cognitive decline, and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Mental health: A healthier mood, relieved melancholy, and decreased symptoms of depression
- Metabolic health: Healthy blood lipids and lowered triglyceride levels (by slowing the rate they form in the liver). High levels of triglycerides in the blood increase the risk of heart disease
- Anti-inflammation: Suppressing chronic inflammation to promote a healthy inflammatory response, which is key for overall joint wellness
The last one on the list, a healthy inflammatory response, may be more important than you might realize.
Scientists believe that inflammation is the common denominator of all age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Lowering levels of chronic, low-grade inflammation in your body is probably the single most important thing you can do to promote optimal health.
The Benefits of Omega-3 Don’t Stop There
Studies show a correlation between higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body and lifespan.
The Framingham Heart Study is one of the longest-running and most influential medical studies in history. Since it began in 1948, it has followed thousands of people for decades and is now on its third generation of subjects.
Much of what modern medicine knows about the risk factors for heart disease has come from following Framingham study subjects.
In the past few years, two medical reports examined data on the Framingham offspring cohort and presented remarkable findings about the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on heart health and longevity.
The first paper, published in 2018, focused on the impact of the omega-3 index blood test on health outcomes. This research found that having the highest omega-3 blood levels, compared to the lowest (people with omega-3 scores greater than 6.8% compared with those less than 4.2%), was associated with: (5)
- 39% lower risk for cardiovascular disease
- 34% lower risk of death from any cause
A more recent analysis, published in 2021, found that the omega-3 index was as good at predicting risk of death during an 11-year follow-up as age, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, and other well-established risk factors.
This study also found that having the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, compared to the lowest, was associated with: (6,7)
- Increases in life expectancy of 4.7 years
How Do You Choose the Best Omega-3 Product?
Food rich with omega-3
Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, lake trout and tuna are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Many of these fish contain traces of mercury, though. Eating large amounts of fish and shellfish can result in high levels of mercury in the body.
Seaweed, algae, valnuts, avocado, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds are likewise good vegetarian sources for omega-3.
What do EPA, DHA and ALA mean?
There are two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids in fish — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The form of omega-3 in plants is called alpha-linolenic (ALA).
Find your omega-3 supplement
For more than 30 years, Life Extension has been at the very forefront of industry-leading Omega-3 supplements since we first pointed out that Omega-3 can promote heart health.
- Following fish oil's purity and sustainability
- Mood: Vitamin D and omega-3 increase serotonin
- The Everyday Essentials
- The Supplement Pyramid
- See All the Blog Posts
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459368/. Accessed September 13, 2021.
- Bernasconi AA, Wiest MM, Lavie CJ, et al. Effect of Omega-3 Dosage on Cardiovascular Outcomes: An Updated Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression of Interventional Trials. Mayo Clin Proc. 2021 Feb;96(2):304-13.
- Titova OE, Sjogren P, Brooks SJ, et al. Dietary intake of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids is linked to gray matter volume and cognitive function in elderly. Age (Dordr). 2013 Aug;35(4):1495-505.
- Smith, Michael MD. "What You Need to Know About Omega-3s." Nourish, WebMD, October 2020, https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-omega-3-health-benefits.
- Harris WS, Tintle NL, Etherton MR, et al. Erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 fatty acid levels are inversely associated with mortality and with incident cardiovascular disease: The Framingham Heart Study. J Clin Lipidol. 2018 May - Jun;12(3):718-27 e6.
- McBurney MI, Tintle NL, Vasan RS, et al. Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Oct 4;114(4):1447-54.