Omega – 3 (Fish oil) – Types and Proven Benefits

Recently, omega-3 fatty acids are very popular among athletes. The main reason for this is their role in regulating immunity and their anti-inflammatory effect. Systemic and heavy sports have a negative effect on the immune system, and insufficient intake of omega-3 and excessive use of omega 6 essential fatty acids is a sure bomb with a delay. Omega-3s also have a number of proven health benefits for the human body, making them suitable for use by children, adults and pregnant women.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of nine polyunsaturated fatty acids. The most important for human nutrition are three of them:

  • Alpha linolenic acid (ALA);
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA);
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

What the three fatty acids have in common, which separates them into a group, is the double carbon bond at the ω-3 (omega-3) position in their molecular structure.

Omega-3 are fatty acids that cannot be synthesized in the human body and are obtained from animal and plant sources.

Types and sources of omega-3

Omega-3 as a dietary supplement can be chosen from several main types of fatty acids:

  • triglycerides;
  • re-esterified triglycerides;
  • ethyl esters;
  • phospholipids (krill oil);

Each of these forms contains EPA and DHA. Krill oil has been found to be about 33% better absorbed than triglyceride forms. The least digestible form is ethyl esters. Their bioactivity is 27% lower than that of triglyceride forms. Re-esterified triglycerides increase digestibility by about 24% compared to conventional triglyceride forms. At this stage, all sources of EPA and DHA are considered cereal and are not suitable for vegans. The only vegan source of DHA is from microalgae (phytoplankton).

The plant source of omega is the fatty acid ALA / ALA. The main sources of ALA are hemp and flaxseed oil, but it is also found in chlorella and spirulina. ALA is too poorly digested and has only 10% of the bioactivity of EPA and DHA. Due to its connection with estrogen, ALA is absorbed slightly better in women.

Low levels of EPA and DHA are typical of people who eat vegetarian or vegan diets. This is especially true for DHA. However, it has been found that it leads to deficiency, but not to complete depletion in the body. To this end, nature has created several mechanisms:

  • Through adaptive mechanisms. As the level of DHA in the body decreases, the degree of depletion is regulated;
  • The polyunsaturated fatty acids ingested can be converted to EPA to form DHA.

EPA and DHA are the most bioactive omega-3 fatty acids, with fish oil being the main source. Therefore, DHA levels are low among vegetarians and vegans.

What do we need to know about Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)?

Omega fatty acids, and omega-3 in particular, are called essential because the human body cannot synthesize them from other non-essential substances, and they play important roles in a number of biochemical processes. It has been found that the body synthesizes omega-3 faster (in competition) if the synthesis of omega 6 fatty acids takes place in parallel at the site of synthesis, otherwise it is easier for it to absorb omega-3 from food.

You may have already begun to wonder what the connection is between omega-3 and omega 6. What the two groups of fatty acids have in common is their involvement as basic ingredients in the chemical synthesis of specific molecules called eicosanoids. These molecules have short-term signaling functions for a number of processes in the body.

Thanks to them, the cells communicate with each other. The signal network of ecosanoids covers primarily the immune and nervous systems, as well as communication between cells in tissues with impaired integrity (wounds, inflammation, etc.).

The various omega-3s serve to synthesize ecosanoids with opposite effects to those synthesized by omega 6 ecosanoids. This means that the body must have balanced amounts of the two groups of essential fatty acids, in the most general case in a ratio of at least 1: 1. Omega-3 activates three main types of eicosanoids:

  • Resolvins – signaling molecules that are involved in inflammatory processes. Their name comes from the English word resolve and is associated with their anti-inflammatory effect. Resolvins are responsible for the synergism between fish oil and aspirin. They are formed from animal omega-3s such as EPA and DHA;
  • Proteins – molecules that are formed entirely by DHA. They exhibit mainly neuroprotective properties and may have a protective effect in Alzheimer’s disease;
  • Prostaglandins – molecules with a different structure from other eicosanoids (pentagram). Participate in the activation of PPARγ and inhibit the formation of platelets.


The main function of omega-3 is the activation of eicosanoids, a class of molecules that are derived from various lipids and function as signaling agents.

In general, omega-3s have the following functions:
  • participate in the structure / composition of cell and nuclear membranes of cells;
  • regulate and guarantee many functions of the immune system together with omega 6;
  • have an irreplaceable role in the regulation of inflammatory processes and recovery;
  • serve as donors of signaling molecules and thus participate in the processes of communication between the cells of the nervous system.

Omega-3s have several whole molecules in the body. These are GRP120 (free fatty acid receptor), AMPK (adenosine monophosphate kinase) and PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor).


Proven and potential properties of omega-3 and fish oil

Proven impacts:

  • EPA and DHA reduce blood triglycerides by between 15 and 30%;
  • Fish oil successfully counteracts mild depression. The effect is comparable to the drug fluoxetine. The effect on bipolar disorder is similar. Significant benefits are found, but only in mild and advanced conditions;
  • Improves mood, general well-being, suppresses anxiety and regulates aggression;
  • Improves blood flow to the brain;
  • Over 300 mg of DHA per day successfully regulates the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD);
  • Lowers blood pressure, but only in people with high blood pressure;

  • Increases “good” cholesterol in people with health problems;

  • Mixed effect on “bad” cholesterol. It can lower it in healthy people, but also increase it in people with heart problems by 5-10%;

  • Suppresses the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus between 30 and 50%;

  • Lowers cortisol;

  • Increases the reaction and improves the function of blood vessels;

  • Significantly improves the weight of newborns when taken by the mother during pregnancy. Reduces the risk of death in newborns;

  • Increases and regulates lipid peroxidation. It usually increases it in the presence of a stress factor, such as running a marathon;

  • Provides protection from the sun’s rays. Reduces DNA damage and the immune system’s response. High doses of EPA protect skin color and reduce sunburn .;
  • High doses of DHA (900 mg) help maintain mental state in the elderly;
  • Increases ketone bodies in the body when combined with a proper diet;
Assumptions and unproven claims:

  • Increases levels of growth hormone, including stimulating muscle growth;
  • Possible reduction of platelets in the blood;
  • Possible suppression of tumor necrosis factor alpha activity;
  • It affects insulin sensitivity, but it is not clear to what extent. The results are mixed;
  • Potential increase in HbA1c levels;
  • One study confirmed a reduction in muscle fatigue. More research is needed;
  • Pain suppression in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, anti-inflammatory action. Data for mixed. It may have an anti-inflammatory effect, mainly due to its immunosuppressive properties;
  • Preventive effect in cancerous neoplasms, more precisely prevent the occurrence of cancer of the breast, colon and prostate; Potential homocysteine ​​lowering effect;
  • Potential effect on lowering liver fat;
  • Possible improvements in memory and response time;
  • Effects on blood sugar and insulin. It has not been proven at this stage;
  • Weak effect on C-reactive protein. There is no statistical value;
  • No direct effect on weight and fat burning has been found;






Proven properties
Potential / Unproven Rejected properties

Triglycerides Platelets
in the blood Metabolism
Mild depression Growth hormone Bone mineral density
Mild states of bipolar disorder HbA1c Testosterone
Anxiety and aggression Insulin sensitivity Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)
Mood and well-being Tumor necrosis factor alpha Muscle damage
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Muscle Fatigue Liver Enzymes
Blood supply to the brain Rheumatoid arthritis Leptin Leptin
Blood pressure in the presence of high levels Anti-cancer effect in breast, colon and prostate cancer Muscle mass
Lowers LDL in healthy people Homocysteine ​​ Proinflammatory cytokines
Increases HDL in sick people Liver fat Heart rate
Systemic lupus erythematosus Memory Fatigue
Cortisol response time DHEA
Blood vessel function Blood sugar Adiponectin
Photoprotection Insulin  
Lipid peroxidation C-reactive protein  
Reduces the risk of death and increases weight in newborns Burning fat  
Mental state in the elderly    
Formation of ketone bodies    

Side effects and contraindications

The risks of omega-3 consumption are of two types:

  • exceeding the recommended amounts of omega-3, which leads to an imbalance of omega-3: omega 6 EMF;
  • insufficient intake of omega 6;


  • Consumption of higher than normal doses of omega-3 can lead to increased bleeding in case of injury or even temporary inability to clot. Consumption of anticoagulants, such as aspirin, may increase the risk;

  • Statistics show cases in which overuse of omega-3 for a long time is the most likely cause of the so-called. Hemorrhagic stroke (stroke type);

  • Suppresses the immune response, as a result of which the consumer becomes more susceptible to infections and bacteria;

  • Increases the levels of bad cholesterol in people with certain genetic predispositions.


Consumption of fish oil can also lead to some typical side effects, such as nausea, stomach irritation, upset or bad taste of fish in the mouth. They usually occur at high doses. There is a theory that high doses of fish oil in the elderly can increase DNA damage, which is directly related to lipid oxidation. So far, however, most of the scientific basis does not confirm these claims.

The main risk in consuming omega-3 products does not come from the omega-3s themselves, but from the quality of the fish oil. It is a known fact that fish oil can be a source of mercury, dioxins and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). These substances can get into the oil through the source fish. Mercury is especially dangerous for the fetus of a pregnant woman because it can cross the placenta. Mercury is easy to digest in the human body and can last up to 75-90 days.

According to tests, the cleanest fish in terms of pollution are those that live in cold water and are not predators (mackerel, cod, sardines). The wing is also of high purity.


  • Reduces glycemic control in diabetics;

  • They should not be taken without a prescription from people with heart failure or chronic angina.

Omega-3s do not show significant side effects per se. The greatest risk is associated with the consumption of contaminated fish oil.

Method of administration and optimal doses

Concomitant consumption of antioxidants and omega-3 mutually reduces the effectiveness of supplements. Leave a few hours interval between different supplements. The Stayfitlonger – Team recommends taking omega-3 with food. Breakfast or dinner is a good time to eat. The entire daily dose can be consumed at once. According to most sources, the permissible daily dose for omega-3 (EPA + DHA) is about 3 grams (3000 mg.), And the acceptable daily dose is 1.6 g for men and 1.1 g for women. (Food and Drug Administration, USA;).

According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily dose is 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. For a more pronounced anti-inflammatory effect, a daily dose of 6 grams is recommended. Pregnant women should get at least 200 mg of DHA a day. Because omega-3s are a fraction of the fats Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and EPA and DHA have times higher physiological potency than ALA, we must also focus on their ratio in the given formula. It is considered that the ratio between ALA: (DHA + EPA) = 9: 1, i.e. the total amount of DKH and EPA should be about 10% of the total amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids.


It is good to take omega-3 and fish oil with food and other fatty acids, such as omega 6. It is advisable to avoid strong antioxidants around their intake.


In which supplements can we find Omega-3?

Omega-3 can most often be obtained from different types of oil. The most popular sources according to the bioactivity of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Krill oil;
  • Cod liver oil;
  • Fish oil (anchovies, mackerel);
  • Linseed oil.

The most affordable source is fish oil from more common fish such as anchovies, tuna, sardines and mackerel. The standard ratio of EPA to DHA is 180 mg to 120 mg per gram of oil (30% omega-3). There are also concentrated formulas such as Pure Nutrition Fish Oil (60%) and NOW Foods Ultra Omega-3 (75%). Flaxseed oil is a plant source of omega-3, but ALA has extremely low bioactivity. That is why the team of BB-Team Magazine recommends the use of fish oil as the main source of omega-3 fatty acids.

There are also combined formulas that combine omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. In most cases, plant sources are used for all three types of fatty acids. Last but not least, omega-3s can be found in some complex formulas. Pure Nutrition Power Pak contains 1000 mg of fish oil per dose, and Universal Animal Flex includes flaxseed oil in its formula.


The most popular and affordable source of omega-3 is fish oil from popular fish such as mackerel, anchovies, sardines. Krill oil is considered to be the highest class product.


With what to combine omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 is a basic food supplement for general health and can be combined with other similar food supplements and especially with those that are most deficient. Among the most popular combinations are omega-3 with vitamin D, zinc and magnesium. Due to the antioxidant properties of zinc, a distance between the intake of the two types of substances is recommended.

For anti-inflammatory effect, fish oil can be combined with curcumin and boswellia. To improve carbohydrate metabolism, the combination with taurine (synergistic effect), creatine, vitamin D and zinc is appropriate. Omega-3s show synergistic properties with astaxanthin in a healthy plan. In this regard, krill oil, which contains both substances, has an advantage.

The Stayfitlonger-Team recommends taking omega-3 and fish oil with other essential micronutrients. Vitamin D is our first choice!

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