Omega 3: Supplement Benefits & Best Health Uses

Explore the top Omega 3 benefits and uses including heart health, anti-inflammation, and cognitive function, along with supporting lifestyle habits.


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In this guide
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What is Omega 3?

Omega 3s are special fats that our bodies need but can’t make on their own, so we have to get them from food or supplements. They’re like building blocks for our cells, important for our hearts, brains, and eyes.

There are three main types of Omega 3s: ALA found in plant oils, and EPA and DHA, mostly found in fish. Our bodies can turn ALA into EPA and DHA, but not very efficiently.

Omega 3 supplements come in various forms, such as fish oil, krill oil, and algal oil, catering to different dietary preferences and needs.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of Omega 3, how it’s used, and the best ways to incorporate it into your health routine.

What is Omega 3 good for?

Heart Health Maintenance

Omega 3 fatty acids are well-regarded for their role in maintaining heart health. EPA and DHA, types of omega 3s found in fish oil, contribute to normal blood triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and overall heart function. The American Heart Association recommends an omega 3 dosage of 1 gram (1000 mg) per day for patients with coronary heart disease, suggesting that higher doses can be beneficial under a doctor’s care.

Brain Function and Development

DHA is a key component of the brain and is vital for brain health and cognitive function. Omega 3s are believed to contribute to the maintenance of normal brain function throughout life, from fetal development to old age. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are often advised to ensure adequate omega 3 intake to support the brain development of their babies.

Joint Health and Inflammation

Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory properties that may help with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Regular intake of omega 3 can help reduce joint stiffness and pain. Some studies suggest an omega 3 dosage of up to 2.7 grams daily of EPA and DHA combined can provide relief.

Eye Health

DHA is also a major structural component of the retina of the eye. Adequate omega 3 intake is associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration, which can lead to vision impairment and blindness. There is no specific omega 3 dosage recommendation for eye health, but a balanced diet including fish can contribute to the necessary intake.

Mental Health Support

Emerging research suggests omega 3s may play a role in mental health. They are thought to affect neurotransmitter pathways in the brain, potentially helping with mood disorders such as depression. While there is no standardized omega 3 dosage for mental health, some studies have used doses ranging from 200 mg to 2 grams of EPA in combination with DHA. Always check with your primary care provider before making any changes to your supplements.

Omega 3 benefits

  1. Reduces Inflammation
    Omega 3 benefits the body by inhibiting the production of substances linked to inflammation, such as eicosanoids and cytokines. At a cellular level, omega 3 fatty acids disrupt the inflammatory cell signaling pathways, leading to a reduction in chronic inflammation and potentially alleviating conditions like arthritis.
  2. Supports Heart Health
    One of the primary omega 3 benefits is its ability to modulate the levels of blood lipids, reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol. Omega 3s also prevent platelets from clumping together, reducing the formation of harmful blood clots and lowering the risk of heart attacks.
  3. Enhances Brain Function
    DHA, a type of omega 3, is a major structural component of the brain and is essential for neuronal function. Omega 3s facilitate the brain’s cell signaling and neurotransmitter production, which is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and mental health.
  4. Improves Eye Health
    DHA is also found in high concentrations in the retina, where it provides structural support. Omega 3 intake is associated with a reduced risk of macular degeneration and may play a role in preventing dry eye syndrome.
  5. Supports Fetal Development
    Omega 3 fatty acids are critical for the growth and development of the fetal brain and retina. Adequate omega 3 intake during pregnancy is linked to improved cognitive and visual outcomes in infants.
  6. Aids Joint Mobility
    By reducing inflammation, omega 3 fatty acids can decrease joint pain and stiffness, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. This improved joint health can lead to enhanced mobility and a better quality of life.
  7. Regulates Mood Disorders
    Omega 3s influence brain function and mood by affecting neurotransmitter pathways. They have been shown to have a positive impact on depressive disorders, potentially acting as mood stabilizers.
  8. Improves Lipid Profile
    Omega 3 supplements can alter the fatty acid composition of cell membranes, leading to an improved lipid profile. This includes reducing the levels of VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and increasing the fluidity of cell membranes, which is beneficial for overall metabolic health.

7 ingredients to combine with Omega 3

Omega 3 supplements are often combined with other nutrients to enhance their health benefits. Popular combinations include Omega 3 with vitamin D for immune and bone health, Omega 3 with Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for heart health, and Omega 3 with B vitamins for cognitive function. Other common pairings include magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, selenium, turmeric, and astaxanthin, which are chosen based on individual health goals and needs.

Vitamin D with Omega 3 Supplement

Vitamin D and Omega 3 work together to support bone health and the immune system. Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption, crucial for bone strength, while Omega 3’s anti-inflammatory properties can help modulate the immune response. This combination is particularly beneficial during the winter months or for individuals with limited sun exposure. Pregnant women may find this pairing advantageous for fetal development, but it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to avoid excessive intake.

Coenzyme Q10 with Omega 3 Supplement

CoQ10 and Omega 3 are a powerful duo for cardiovascular health. CoQ10 helps in energy production within heart cells and acts as an antioxidant, while Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This combination is often recommended for those with a history of heart issues or those taking statins, as statins can reduce CoQ10 levels in the body.

B Vitamins with Omega 3 Supplement

Combining B vitamins with Omega 3 fatty acids can enhance brain function and mental clarity. B vitamins, particularly B12 and folate, are vital for neurotransmitter synthesis and homocysteine metabolism, which is linked to cognitive health. Omega 3s support brain cell membrane fluidity and function. This combination may be especially relevant for the elderly to support cognitive health and prevent age-related decline.

Advocates for Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are a hot topic among health experts who often recommend them for their powerful effects on the heart, brain, and inflammation. Experts like Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Mehmet Oz have shared their insights on why they prescribe omega 3s.

Dr. Andrew Weil for Anti-Inflammation

Dr. Andrew Weil is a well-known proponent of integrative medicine and often discusses the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega 3s. In his book Healthy Aging, he emphasizes the importance of omega 3s in reducing the risk of chronic diseases related to inflammation. He advocates for a diet rich in these fatty acids as part of an overall anti-inflammatory diet plan.

Dr. Mark Hyman for Metabolic Health

Dr. Mark Hyman, the author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, argues that fats like omega 3s are essential for good health. He suggests that they play a crucial role in managing weight, balancing blood sugar, and improving cholesterol levels. Dr. Hyman’s functional medicine approach often includes omega 3s for patients dealing with metabolic issues.

Dr. Mehmet Oz for Heart Health

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz has frequently highlighted the cardiovascular benefits of omega 3s on his TV show and in various publications. He points out that omega 3s can help reduce triglyceride levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Dr. Oz encourages incorporating omega 3 supplements as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Joseph Mercola for Overall Wellness

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a well-known alternative medicine advocate, has written extensively on the broad benefits of omega 3s. In The No-Grain Diet, he discusses how omega 3s contribute to a healthy diet and can help prevent a range of health issues. He often recommends omega 3 supplements for their role in supporting overall wellness.

Dr. Frank Sacks for Dietary Guidelines

Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention, has been involved in research that informs dietary guidelines. His work includes studies on the impact of omega 3s on heart health. Dr. Sacks recommends omega 3s for their evidence-based benefits in reducing heart disease risk and promoting a healthy lipid profile.

10 Habits that Support Omega 3 Supplementation

To maximize the benefits of omega 3, consider incorporating these healthy lifestyle habits:
  1. Balanced Diet
    Including a variety of omega 3-rich foods such as fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds can enhance the anti-inflammatory and heart health benefits of omega 3 supplements. Eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables also provides antioxidants that support overall health.
  2. Regular Exercise
    Engaging in regular physical activity, especially cardiovascular exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling, can help improve circulation and heart health, complementing the cardiovascular benefits of omega 3.
  3. Stress Management
    Practices such as yoga, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises can reduce stress levels, which is important since chronic stress can contribute to inflammation and negate some of the anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3.
  4. Adequate Sleep
    Ensuring 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night supports cognitive function and mood regulation, which omega 3 also benefits. Sleep helps regulate hormones that can influence inflammation and overall health.
  5. Hydration
    Drinking sufficient water is crucial for all bodily functions, including the transportation of nutrients like omega 3s to cells where they are needed.
  6. Limiting Processed Foods
    Reducing intake of processed foods, which often contain omega 6 fatty acids, can help maintain a healthy balance between omega 6 and omega 3 levels, reducing the risk of inflammation.
  7. Mindful Eating
    Being mindful about eating habits can improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, including omega 3s, ensuring that the body can utilize them effectively.
  8. Avoiding Smoking and Excessive Alcohol
    Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase oxidative stress and inflammation, counteracting the benefits of omega 3. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol intake can enhance overall health and the efficacy of omega 3 supplements.
  9. Regular Health Check-ups
    Regular visits to a healthcare provider can help monitor heart health and ensure that omega 3 supplementation is having the desired effect, alongside other health metrics.
  10. Social Connections
    Maintaining strong social ties and engaging in community can improve mental health and resilience, which is synergistic with the mood-regulating effects of omega 3.

Omega 3 Side Effects

Omega 3 supplements are generally considered safe, but they can cause side effects, particularly when taken in high doses. The most common side effects include gastrointestinal issues such as belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea.

Some individuals may experience an increased risk of bleeding, a concern especially pertinent for those on blood-thinning medications or with bleeding disorders. It’s important to monitor for signs like easy bruising or prolonged bleeding from cuts.

In rare cases, omega 3 supplements may affect blood sugar levels, which is particularly relevant for individuals with diabetes. They should monitor their blood sugar closely and consult with their healthcare provider.

Fish oil-based omega 3 supplements may contain contaminants like mercury, particularly if they are not molecularly distilled. Choosing high-quality, purified supplements can minimize this risk.

People with fish or shellfish allergies should be cautious and consider plant-based omega 3 supplements to avoid allergic reactions.

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