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17 science-based benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

17 wissenschaftlich basierte Vorzüge von Omega-3 Fettsäuren

Omega-3 fatty acids are amazingly important. They have many health benefits for the body and brain. In fact, few nutrients have been scientifically studied as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are 17 health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that are scientifically supported.

1. omega-3 fatty acids can fight depression and anxiety

Depression is the most common mental disorder worldwide. Symptoms include sadness, lethargy and a general loss of interest in life.

Anxiety and anxiety disorders are also common disorders characterized by constant worry and nervousness.

Interestingly, studies suggest that people who regularly consume omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to experience depression (1, 2).

Furthermore, it has been observed that when people suffering from depression or anxiety disorders start taking omega-3 fatty acids, there is a reduction in their symptoms (3, 4).

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA. Of these three, EPA appears to be the most effective when it comes to fighting depression (5). One study even concluded that EPA is as effective as a widely used antidepressant in treating depression (6).

2 Omega-3 fatty acids can improve eye health

DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is a structural component of the retina of the eye. If you don't consume enough DHA, you may experience vision problems (7, 8).

Interestingly, an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with a reduced risk of macular degeneration - one of the leading causes of eye damage and blindness worldwide (9, 10).

3 Omega-3 fatty acids can improve brain health during pregnancy and infancy

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for brain growth and development in infants. DHA makes up 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain and 60% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the retina. Thus, it is no surprise that infants who receive DHA formula have better vision than infants who do not receive such formula (11).

Adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is associated with numerous benefits for the child, including the following (12, 13, 14):

  • Higher intelligence
  • Better communication and social skills
  • Fewer behavioral problems
  • A reduced risk of delayed development
  • A reduced risk of ADHD, autism and related disorders

4. omega-3 fatty acids can reduce risk factors for heart disease

Heart attacks and strokes are the leading cause of death worldwide. Decades ago, scientists observed that fish-eating populations had very low rates of these diseases. This was linked to their omega-3 consumption (15, 16).

Since then, omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with numerous heart health benefits (17). These benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Triglycerides: omega-3 fatty acids can cause a massive reduction in triglyceride levels in the range of 15 to 30% (18, 19).
  • Blood pressure: Omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (20)
  • "Good" HDL cholesterol levels: Omega-3 fatty acids can increase levels of "good" HDL cholesterol (21).
  • Blood clots: Omega-3 fatty acids can prevent blood platelets from clumping together. This can help prevent dangerous blood clots (22).
  • Plaques: By keeping arteries smooth and free of damage, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the formation of plaques, which can constrict and harden blood vessels (23).
  • Inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the production of substances released by your body during inflammatory responses (24).

In some people, omega-3 fatty acids can also lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. However, the research results are mixed. Some studies have also observed increases in LDL levels (25, 26).

Despite these positive effects on risk factors for heart disease, there is still no scientific evidence that omega-3 supplements can prevent heart attacks or strokes. Many studies have failed to find any benefits in this regard (27).

5 Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce ADHD symptoms in children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by lack of attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Several studies show that children with ADHD have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids than healthy children. In addition, numerous studies have observed that omega-3 supplements can reduce ADHD symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids help to improve attention and task performance. They also reduce hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness and aggression (28, 29, 30).

Recent studies have also observed that fish oil supplements are one of the most promising treatments for ADHD (31).

6 Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions. These include obesity around the midsection, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high triglyceride levels, and low levels of good HDL cholesterol.

Metabolic syndrome is a major public health problem as it increases the risk of other diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce insulin resistance, inflammation and risk factors for heart disease in people with metabolic syndrome (32).

7 Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation

Inflammation is a normal response to infection and damage in the body. For this reason, it is crucial for health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists over a long period of time without infection or injury. This is also known as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can contribute to almost every chronic disease in the Western world, including heart disease and cancer.

Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of molecules and substances such as eicosanoids and cytokines that are associated with inflammation (34).

Studies have also consistently observed a link between higher omega-3 intake and reduced inflammation (35).

8 Omega-3 fatty acids can fight autoimmune diseases

In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakes the body's own cells for foreign cells and begins to attack them. Type 1 diabetes is a good example of this, where the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Omega-3 fatty acids can combat some of these autoimmune diseases and may be particularly important early in life.

Studies show that an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids during the first year of life may be associated with a reduced risk of developing autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (36, 37).

Omega-3 fatty acids may also help treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and psoriasis (38, 39).

9 Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce mental disorders

Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been observed in people with mental disorders.

Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the frequency of mood swings and relapses in people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (40, 41).

Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce aggressive behavior (42).

10 Omega-3 fatty acids can combat age-related decline in mental abilities and Alzheimer's disease.

A decline in brain function is one of the inevitable consequences of aging.

Several studies link higher omega-3 intake to a reduced age-related decline in mental function and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease (43).

A review of controlled studies suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in the onset of Alzheimer's disease when symptoms are still very mild (44).

However, it should be kept in mind that further research is needed on the influence of omega-3 fatty acids on brain health.

11 Omega-3 fatty acids could help fight cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world and it has long been claimed that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Interestingly, studies show that people who consume the most omega-3 fatty acids have a 55% lower risk of colorectal cancer (45).

In addition, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer in men and a lower risk of breast cancer in women, although not all studies provide the same results (46, 47).

12 Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce asthma in children

Asthma is a chronic lung disease with symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. Severe asthma attacks can be very dangerous as they are the cause of inflammation and swelling of the airways. Over the last few decades, asthma rates have risen in the western world.

Several studies have linked the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to a lower risk of asthma in children and young adults (48).

13 Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce fat in the liver

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is more common than many people would believe. The number of cases has increased with the epidemic spread of obesity, and obesity has become the leading cause of chronic liver disease in the Western world.

Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can effectively reduce liver fat and inflammation in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (49).

14 Omega-3 fatty acids may improve bone and joint health

Osteoporosis and arthritis are two of the most common diseases affecting the skeletal system.

Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may improve bone strength by increasing the amount of calcium in the bones, which should lead to a reduced risk of osteoporosis (50).

Omega-3 fatty acids may also help in the treatment of arthritis. Patients taking omega-3 fatty acids reported reduced joint pain and increased grip strength (51).

15 Omega-3 fatty acids can relieve menstrual pain

Menstrual pain occurs in the lower abdomen and pelvis and often radiates to the lower back and thighs. It can have a significant impact on quality of life.

Studies have repeatedly shown that women who consume the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids suffer less menstrual pain (52).

One study even concluded that an omega-3 supplement was more effective than ibuprofen in treating severe menstrual pain (53).

16 Omega-3 fatty acids can improve sleep

Good sleep is the foundation of good health, with studies linking sleep problems to many conditions including obesity, diabetes and depression.

Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to sleep disorders in children and obstructive sleep apnea in adults. Low DHA levels are also associated with lower levels of the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.

Studies in children and adults have shown that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can increase the duration and quality of sleep (54, 55).

17 Omega-3 fatty acids are good for the skin

DHA is a structural component of the skin. It is responsible for the health of the cell membranes that make up much of the skin. A healthy cell membrane results in soft, supple and wrinkle-free skin, as well as good skin hydration.

EPA is also good for the skin in several ways (56, 57):

  • EPA controls oil production and hydration of the skin
  • EPA prevents hyperkeratinization of the hair follicles, which manifests itself in small red swellings often seen on the upper arms.
  • EPA can reduce premature skin ageing
  • EPA can reduce the risk of acne

Omega-3 fatty acids can also protect the skin from sun damage. EPA helps to prevent the release of substances that break down the skin's collagen after sun exposure (57).


Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health.

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids through whole foods such as oily fish twice a week is the best way to ensure a solid omega-3 intake.

If you don't like eating fish, you can consider taking an omega-3 supplement. For people who suffer from a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, this can be an inexpensive and effective way to improve health.



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