The Complete Omega-3 Benefits for Your Body
Writer: Wan SofaSyifa
Reviewed by: Fenny Lim, BSc. (Hons) Nutrition, UKM
Omega-3 has been one of the most renowned dietary supplement ingredients globally for decades. It is by far one of the most evergreen dietary supplement ingredients of all time. What omega-3 benefits are so great that omega-3 supplements remain highly relevant even now?
Let’s dive into it.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that give your body many health benefits. There are a total of 11 different types of omega-3 have been discovered, but only three are considered essential for your body. These three most important omega-3 fatty acids are ALA, EPA, and DHA.
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
ALA is the most common omega-3 that can be found in your diet. It is mostly found in plants. ALA is an important precursor to the other two types of essential omega-3, EPA and DHA. While it is an important precursor, your body cannot convert this omega-3 easily into EPA and DHA.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
EPA is an omega-3 mostly found in seafood such as fatty fish and algae. It is sometimes known as marine omega-3s. EPA plays many roles in your health and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Seafoods such as herring, salmon, eel, and shrimp are known sources of EPA with high concentrations.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
Like EPA, DHA can also be found mainly in seafood. DHA is much harder to find among the three fatty acids in high concentrations. Since DHA is an important fatty acid for growth and development, even during pregnancy, it is often formulated in food products. Children’s, prenatal, and postnatal milk are some of the most common foods enhanced with DHA.
Natural DHA can be found in fatty fish and algae, with trace amounts in grass-fed animal products .
The Benefits of Omega-3
Since it was first discovered, omega-3 has been widely researched. There are many benefits of omega-3 based on research and clinical studies. This essential nutrient is known to help improve many health conditions.
Below are several known and recently discovered benefits of omega-3.
Omega-3 May Help with Heart Health
One of the most well-known benefits of omega-3 is how it may help improve heart health. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is an umbrella term that describes diseases involving the heart and blood vessels, such as heart blockage. It is the number one cause of death globally .
Maintaining your heart health is closely linked with reducing or controlling existing risk factors for CVD. This includes conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Several review papers    have been published that show how omega-3 may help improve heart health even when you have existing CVD risk factors.
Experts agree that omega-3 may help;
- Reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides
- Regulate blood pressure
- Improve blood flow
They also agree that dosage plays an important part in how far omega-3 can help. Higher DHA and EPA dosages are usually better for those with a pre-existing health condition.
While there are positive studies on the effects of omega-3 on existing CVD risk factors, whether or not omega-3 can prevent it depends on other factors such as;
- Your lifestyle
- Your diet
- Your environment
- Your genetic
As stated before, you should never treat omega-3 as a form of treatment and ignore your prescribed medication. It can be a functional nutritional supplement to improve your diet and lifestyle.
Omega-3 May Help with Joint and Muscle Health
Joint pains, when left untreated, can lead to chronic conditions such as arthritis, with the most common type being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to a 2019 study, there was a global increase of 113.25% in people with osteoarthritis from 1990 to 2019 . In 2020 alone, around 654.1 individuals above 40 years old suffered from knee osteoarthritis , and this trend seems to be increasing.
For rheumatoid arthritis, according to] WHO, around 18 million of the global population suffer from this condition, with 70% of them being women .
Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis, a classification of joint-based conditions. It is a degenerative disease that causes joint breaks over time. Osteoarthritis is divided based on the body part that suffers conditions. For example, knee osteoarthritis patients experience the symptoms on their knees.
This condition is the most common disease among the elderly, and symptoms include joint pains, stiffness, and inactivity of the body parts involved*.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes joint pains. This condition occurs when your immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body and causes inflammation in just one or multiple parts of your body. Common symptoms include joint aches or pains, swelling, and a feeling of tenderness.
This condition can happen at any age and is more common in women*.
Omega-3 May Help Manage Depression
Depression is a mental health condition that causes you to feel long periods of sadness and loss of interest. According to the World Health Organization, around 280 million people in the world suffer from depression . Recent studies   show that there is a connection between inflammation and depression.
Omega-3 is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Clinical studies    done in recent years show that there is a connection between omega-3 and depression. Most of these studies agree that omega-3 may help reduce the risk of depression and manage the condition better.
It is important to keep in mind that omega-3 should be looked at as a supporting element to your existing medication or treatments rather than a cure for depression. If you are feeling down or have been diagnosed with depression, it is always best to seek professional help.
Do not hesitate to talk to a healthcare professional before incorporating omega-3 supplements into your treatment plan. They can provide you with the best advice based on your unique needs.
Omega-3 May Help with Eye Health
Did you know that your retinas consume oxygen the most and need large amounts of energy to support their functions? This large energy consumption makes your eyes more likely to experience oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress happens when there are too many free radicals in your body. Free radicals are generated from body metabolism, lifestyle, and environment. Too much oxidative stress is known to damage your cells, proteins, and DNA. It is also linked to chronic inflammation that can damage your tissues and organs.
Multiple diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, have been linked to oxidative stress.
While not an antioxidant, omega-3 has rich anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation. For eye health, a common issue is dry eyes syndrome – a condition where your eyes cannot produce enough liquid (as tears). Symptoms of these include itchy, red eyes and a burning sensation. Omega-3 has the ability to reduce and prevent the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
You also strengthen your eyes by taking omega-3 because DHA, a form of it, makes up around 50 -70% of the fatty acids in your retinas . Remember that if you already need prescription glasses, taking omega-3 cannot restore your eye health, but it may help prevent your condition from worsening when included in your daily eye care routine.
Omega-3 May Help with Brain Health
Besides the eyes, DHA also contributes an average of 18% of fatty acids in an adult’s brain matter, while EPA is at around 0.05 – 0.01%. Taking omega-3 can help you maintain your brain health and help keep your mind sharp.
Omega-3, such as EPA and DHA, are especially good for your child’s brain development as early as the third trimester of pregnancy. This is one of the reasons why prenatal, postnatal, and children’s milk are fortified with them .
For the elderly, consistent omega-3 intake may help prevent cognitive brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Even so, it is important to note that if you are experiencing early symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as forgetfulness, or are diagnosed with the condition, omega-3 should not function as a treatment.
Omega-3 is nutritional support, and you should always seek professional help with any health concerns.
Omega-3 May Help with Skin Health
Aside from being a strong anti-inflammatory ingredient, omega-3 is important to maintain healthy cell integrity. Combined, this makes omega-3 a good supplement for your skin. Several studies    have been done to see whether omega-3 can help with skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
While there are positive results, such as less severity, faster healing, and fading scars, researchers agree that more studies must be done with more controlled conditions. There is also a review that explores how omega-3 can also protect your skin from harmful UVs .
Most medical practitioners agree that consistent intake of omega-3 at the right dosage is key to seeing its benefits on your skin.
Omega-3 in the Market
Omega-3 is one of the easiest nutrients to find on the market. It can come as fortified food or as dietary supplements.
Omega-3 in Fortified Foods
In food, omega-3, EPA, and DHA are often fortified in;
- Soy milk
- Baby formulas
- Plant oils
By fortifying food with omega-3, you get additional nutrients alongside it when you eat. But bear in mind that the amount of omega-3 in these foods is normally small and not even at the lowest daily recommended dosage. Fortified foods are meant to be combined with other omega-3-rich food sources like fish.
If your daily diet naturally lacks seafood or only consists of fortified food in small amounts, consider going for omega-3 dietary supplements instead. Omega-3 supplements normally come as fish oil supplements. These are concentrated extracts of fish oil encapsulated in softgel capsules.
Fish oil omega-3 supplements are normally made from fatty fish such as tuna, cod, salmon, or small fishes like anchovies. More often than not, they are made from a combination of different fishes because what matters is not the type of fish but the amount of EPA and DHA in the extract.
Our Signature Omega-3 Supplements Range
For us, since we understand that what matters is the omega-3 content instead of the type of fish, we have formulated several different products from different sources. These products come in different omega-3 concentrations from varied sources. We also ensure that each formulation has an optimum dosage based on your health needs.
CellLabs® SK2 Omega - Complete Omega-3 Supplement
Our most premium omega-3 product is our CellLabs® SK2 Omega. CellLabs® SK2 Omega is sourced from seal oil and krill oil. What is unique about these sources is that seal oil has a complete omega-3 profile, including the DPA (docosapentaenoic acid). DPA is rarely found in other non-mammalian sources, and it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
CellLabs® SK2 Omega is more effective than ordinary fish oil supplements thanks to its high biocompatibility. With the structure of omega-3s in seal oil and krill oil, these essential fatty acids can directly enter human cells, which results in higher efficacy levels. In addition, krill oil is naturally rich in astaxanthin antioxidants, which help to preserve the oils from oxidation.
Together, CellLabs® SK2 Omega is our most potent omega-3 supplement yet, and we highly recommend this to you if you are already diagnosed with a chronic health condition such as coronary artery disease, joint pain, and low libido.
StemLabs® Omega-3 Supplements
Other than CellLabs® SK2 Omega, we also formulated three other products that would suit individuals just starting to take supplements in their daily routine.
First, we have StemLabs® Omega-3 Fish Oil 1,000mg. StemLabs® Omega-3 Fish Oil 1,000mg is our most basic omega-3 supplement. It comes with 1,000mg of fish oil with a concentration of 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA. This is the best omega-3 supplement for healthy individuals looking to maintain their health.
Second, we have StemLabs® Omega-3 Fish Oil Double Strength. StemLabs® Omega-3 Fish Oil Double Strength has a higher omega-3 concentration, 300mg EPA, and 200mg DPA. This option is better for those experiencing joint pains, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
Third, we have StemLabs® Sacha Inchi Oil. StemLabs® Sacha Inchi Oil is unique because it is plant-based, and its omega-3 comes in the form of ALA. Our StemLabs® Sacha Inchi Oil has a concentration of ALA at 203mg. Because of its source, it also has a small concentration of omega-6 (195mg) and omega-9 (27.1mg).
StemLabs® Sacha Inchi Oil works best as an alternative for those who have seafood allergies, cannot tolerate fish, and are looking for a plant-based alternative.
Which of Our Omega-3 Supplements Should You Take?
That depends on your personal health needs and any dietary restrictions. For example, if your religion prohibits seals, go for our fish oil alternatives. If your health requires a higher dosage of omega-3, you can either go for StemLabs® Omega-3 Fish Oil Double Strength or CellLabs® SK2 Omega.
If you are healthy and looking to get started, then you can go for StemLabs® Omega-3 Fish Oil 1,000mg (or StemLabs® Sacha Inchi Oil). It is always important to consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns about which omega-3 supplements to take.