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Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and some other food sources. Although study results suggest that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids offers health benefits, researchers are less sure about the effectiveness of supplements.

In this article, we look at the potential benefits of taking omega-3 supplements and explain what to look for when making a purchase.

Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that support several functions in the body. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

The NCCIH lists some of the potential benefits of fatty acids, noting that:

  • high doses can help lower levels of triglycerides in the blood
  • these fats can help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Omega-3 supplements can help prevent heart disease, but supplements cannot

They also find that other claims about fatty acids – whether they come from diet or supplements – are either inconclusive or not supported by the results of studies.

Although more research is needed, a 2018 study found that omega-3 supplements had cardiovascular benefits for some people. In people whose diet did not consist of at least 1.5 servings of fish per week, taking supplements reduced the risk of developing heart disease.

Another study known as REDUCE-IT had similar results in terms of cardiovascular events and deaths. The researchers found that taking omega-3 supplements compared to a placebo reduced the risk of high blood triglycerides and cardiac events or death.

However, the participants all had heart disease risk factors, which could mean the results only apply to certain groups of people, not the general population.

According to an article in NYU Langone Online Journal of Medicine, the REDUCE-IT study is an anomaly among other studies that generally show limited evidence that omega-3s reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. While the author calls for further research, he also concedes that taking an omega-3 supplement is likely not a bad idea.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would not object to certain health claims made about omega-3 supplements that reduce the risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. In other words, as long as manufacturers follow FDA guidelines, they can claim their products can reduce these risks.

As with other supplements and vitamins, the FDA does not directly regulate the manufacture of omega-3 supplements. However, they have approved a prescription drug called Lovaza that contains the fatty acid. Doctors can use this drug to lower triglyceride levels in people with hypertriglyceridemia.

The authors of a 2016 study found that there are huge differences between the prescription drug and dietary supplements. These include:

  • how strict the necessary test procedure is
  • the persistence of the effectiveness of
  • the consistency in security

People interested in taking omega-3 supplements should speak to a doctor first. This applies in particular to pregnant or breastfeeding women and to people who take medication or other dietary supplements.

When choosing an omega-3 supplement, a person should consider the following:

  • costs
  • Certifications from external experts for safety and purity standards
  • dosage
  • Form of supplement, such as gummy bears or pill g

There are many omega-3 supplements available for purchase. Below we list four products that people might want to try.

Please note that the author of this article has not tried these products. All product information is purely research-based.

Life Extension Super Omega-3 EPA / DHA Fish Oil, Sesame Lignans & Olive Extract

Life Extension’s softgels contain a formula that contains EPA and DHA, as well as sesame lignans and olive extract. Research suggests that both sesamin (a lignan found in sesame seeds) and olive leaf extract can also help prevent heart disease.

The International Fish Oil Standards have given this product a 5-star certification. It’s also gluten-free and uses non-GMO products.

Life Extension Super Omega-3 EPA / DHA Fish Oil, Sesame Lignan, and Olive Extract Supplements can be purchased here.

LiveWell OmegaWell

LiveWell’s softgels contain 800 milligrams (mg) EPA and 600 mg DHA and come from sustainable fish oil sources. The company also uses third-party testing on its products.

LiveWell OmegaWell nutritional supplements can be purchased here.

Source Naturals Vegan True Non-Fish Omega-3s

Source Naturals’ fish-free dietary supplements are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The company’s facilities are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified and use independent third-party laboratory tests to confirm the quality of their products.

Source Naturals Vegan True Non-Fish Omega-3s are available for purchase here.

Nordic Naturals Omega-3 gums

These gums have a tangerine flavor with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colorings. The company states that it has been tested by a third party and can provide analytical certification for each of its products.

The dosages of DHA and EPA are low, and the company claims that children over the age of 2 can eat them.

You can buy Nordic Naturals omega-3 gums here.

Omega-3 is associated with only minor side effects. According to the NCCIH, some side effects can include:

They also note that while researchers found a link to prostate cancer in some studies, the results are inconclusive.

People taking anti-clotting medications should speak to their doctor about possible complications before starting the supplement.

There are several food sources for omega-3s, including:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • tuna
  • herring
  • Sardines

For people who do not eat or enjoy seafood, omega-3s are also available in plant foods and oils, such as:

  • tofu
  • Walnuts
  • ground flaxseed
  • Flaxseed oil
  • I am oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Soybeans
  • Chia seeds

In addition, a person can look for foods fortified with fatty acids. They can include:

  • yogurt
  • Baby food
  • Soy drinks
  • Eggs
  • juices
  • milk

A person should speak to their doctor before starting any new health supplement, including omega-3.

People taking blood clotting medications should not take the dietary supplement without consulting their doctor, as the combination can lead to complications. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also speak to their doctor first.

Omega-3 supplements can offer some benefits by promoting heart health and lowering blood triglyceride levels. Many of the other claims about their utility require additional research.

A person interested in taking omega-3 supplements should speak to their doctor first. If you do decide to take the dietary supplement, you should choose products that have been third party inspected for safety and purity.

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