Since Omega-3 first appeared on the market in the early eighties, it has proved to be beneficial for just about every part of the body. A Google search of “health benefits of omega-3” yielded 1,8 million entries in just 0,7 seconds!
WebMD, one of the world’s largest healthcare websites has this to say about it: “Omega-3s are nutrients you get from food (or supplements) that help build and maintain a healthy body. They’re key to the structure of every cell wall you have. They’re also an energy source and help keep your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system working the way they should.”
It has been shown to be beneficial for asthma, ADHD, baby’s development, brain health, cognitive function, depression, eyes, heart health, immune system, joints, mood, muscles, reducing inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, senility and more.
In fact, omega-3 is beneficial for every stage of life, from conception to old age. In this article we’ll look at some of the benefits studies have revealed for each of these life stages.
A study just published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has this to say: “Women’s consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-3-rich foods may improve the probability of conception by decreasing the risk of pregnancy loss. In addition, men’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids may influence semen quality.” 1
Another study showed that among women undergoing fertility treatment, omega-3 supplementation increased the chances of embryo survival after IVF treatment.2
A major review of studies3 showed many benefits of supplementing with omega-3 during pregnancy.
Infants whose mothers took omega-3 during pregnancy
- had improved immune function.
- were less likely to suffer from allergies and respiratory illness, like asthma. This benefit lasted for up to the first 5 years of the child’s life.
- had a lower risk, and less severity, of atopic dermatitis during the first year.
The authors of the review concluded that “Taken together, these findings suggest that LCPUFAs (i.e. Omega 3) play a role in immune development that is of clinical significance, particularly with regard to allergic sensitisation and allergic manifestations including wheeze and asthma.” They also noted that babies fed with formula containing omega-3 had immune function similar to breast fed (the best way) babies, while those who got formula without omega-3 did not. Those fed formula with omega-3 also showed reduced risk of allergies and respiratory disease.
In a 2011 study, published in Pediatrics,4researchers found that children born to mothers who supplemented with omega-3 during pregnancy recovered quicker from colds, coughs and other childhood illnesses. To quote the researchers: “In a large double-blind randomized controlled trial we found that 400 mg/ day DHA from 18 to 22 weeks’ gestation through parturition reduced the occurrence of colds in offspring at 1 month of age and influenced illness duration at 1, 3, and 6 months.”
“Human intelligence has a physical basis in the huge size of our brains — some seven times larger than would be expected for a mammal with our body size. Since there is never a free lunch, those big brains need lots of extra building materials — most importantly, they need omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. Omega-6 fats, however, undermine the effects of DHA and seem to be bad for brains.” The researchers compared levels of omega-3 and 6 from breast milk in over two dozen countries with how well children in those countries performed intellectually. What they found is that the more omega-3 there was, the brighter the kids were, while the inverse applied to omega-6.
For the moms, omega-3 helps prevent perinatal depression6. Studies have shown that a deficiency of omega-3 during pregnancy increases the risk of depression after birth.
A 2019 study from Belgium found that women with an omega-3 index below 5% were 5 times more likely to have a depressive episode than mothers with omega-3 indexes above 5%.7
There is also evidence that omega-3 can help reduce the symptoms of the depression.
This is a time of rapid growth and omega-3 plays a critical role. It’s important for the development of the eyes, nerves and brain. It is also important for cognitive development.
A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition8showed that babies whose mothers had sufficient omega-3 during pregnancy had better visual acuity (sharpness) at 60 days than those whose mothers were deficient in omega-3. This is also the conclusion of a meta analysis of studies published in Pediatrics.9
Studies have shown that babies whose mothers had high levels of omega-3 during pregnancy and breast feeding had better skeletal muscle development.10 This translated into long term health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes.
Omega-3 has been shown to influence children’s ability to concentrate and comprehend. A British study11showed that “Those receiving the omega supplement more than doubled their gain in reading age, and more than tripled their gain in spelling age in a three month period”.
Omega-3 has been shown to reduce asthma in young children12
Omega-3 can reduce allergies in children like eczema13
Omega-3 is especially effective in reducing the problems relating to ADHD in children. See the list of studies in the next section on adolescents.
Adolescence is defined as the time between the onset of puberty and maturity, generally ages 10 to 19. It’s an time of great change emotionally and physically.
Just how important omega-3 is for adolescents can be seen by the results of a study that looked at brain development in adolescents.14 The researchers concluded that “long chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for normative development of key aspects of brain function and structure and thus behaviour.“
Several controlled trials of omega-3, combined with micronutrients, show sizeable reductions in aggressive, antisocial, and violent behaviour in youth and young adult prisoners.
Depression has become a major problem among adolescents, especially since the advent of COVID. According to the WHO:15
- one in seven 10-19 year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group.
- depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders are among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.
- suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds.
Recent studies have shown that omega-3 can help. One study, published in May 2021,16 showed that 17 year old adolescents with high levels of omega-3 were 56% less likely to suffer from depression seven years later.
Another study showed that high levels of omega-3 were associated with earlier sleep timing and longer weekend sleep duration in Mexican adolescents.17Lack of sleep and disrupted sleep patterns are associated with increased depression.
A 2019 study18 had this to say “Analysis ……… revealed fewer adverse events overall with omega-3 compared with placebo with the largest differences between conditions (all favoring omega-3) on confusion, anxiety, depression, irritability, and tiredness/fatigue.”
ADHD. Omega-3 has been shown to shown to be very effective in helping ADHD. There are numerous studies showing that omega-3 can make a difference in attention span, comprehension and overall behaviour. Here are just a few:
A 2015 study19 had this to say “dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduces symptoms of ADHD, both for individuals with ADHD and typically developing children.“
British researchers20 noted “the findings reveal for the first time that lower omega-3 fatty acids are associated with impaired emotion processing in ADHD children.”
A 2019 study21 revealed that “there is evidence that n-3 PUFAs supplementation monotherapy improves clinical symptoms and cognitive performances in children and adolescents with ADHD”.
For more info on ADHD go to https://www.realhealth4life.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/HEALTH-WATCH-ADHD.pdf
Omega-3 also aids concentration, making it a good supplement to give children studying for tests and exams. Again there are a number of studies demonstrating this:
A study published in Human Psycopharmacology22 found that “we concluded that following the EPA-rich supplementation, participants’ brains worked ‘less hard’ and achieved a better cognitive performance than prior to supplementation.”
Another study23 deduced that “EPA supplementation improved global cognitive function”
Possibly the most interesting study is one from the University of Pittsburgh,24 that showed that omega-3 supplementation actually increased memory. The lead professor said “Before seeing this data, I would have said it was impossible to move young healthy individuals above their cognitive best. We found that members of this population can enhance their working memory performance even further, despite their already being at the top of their cognitive game.”
Lastly, with special regards to adolescents, who often have notoriously bad eating habits, omega-3 has been shown to counter the negative effects of a diet high in junk foods.25
As there are literally thousands of studies showing the benefits of omega-3 for adults, from 20’s to old age. I’m simply going to list a few of these studies by means of a single sentence.
- New study proves omega-3 prevents inflammation linked to heart & other diseases26
- Taking omega-3 daily had a 15% reduction in death from coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke incidence, a 20% reduction in death from any health-related cause, and a 45% reduction in sudden death from a heart attack.27
- Increasing omega-3 levels may reduce prostate cancer growth28
- Omega-3s inhibit breast cancer growth29
- DHA, in omega-3, improves chemo effectiveness for brain cancer treatment30
- A diet high in omega-3 can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 53 percent31
- Omega-3 improves sports performance32
- Omega-3 prevents muscle loss due to inactivity after injury33
- Omega-3 counters oxidative damage to muscles resulting from strenuous exercise.34
- Study shows that omega-3 helps depression in elderly & improves quality of life35
- Omega-3 may help slow the onset of Alzheimers36
- Omega-3 helps rheumatoid arthritis37
- Omega-3 helps reduce inflammation, lowering joint pain38
- Omega-3 can reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration39
Omega-3 has also been shown to play a positive role in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches and more.
Given the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of omega-3, it makes good sense to consider it a ‘must have’ supplement for you and your family. Be sure to choose a certified pure, complete factor omega-3 supplement.