Omega 3 supplements

OMEGA 3s are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids well known for their role in heart health. The 3 main type of omega 3s are:

  • α-linolenic acid (ALA) , essential fatty acid found in plant oils such as walnuts, canola oil, hemp oil,chia seeds, flaxseeds

  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in seafood such as salmon, sardines, trout, oysters, shrimp,mackerel


  • Early research in the 1990s showed a strong link between supplementing with Omega 3s and reduction in cardiac death and stroke however more recent studies have shown mixed results. Recent research shows inconclusive evidence on omega 3 supplements and risk of cardiac death. The results from research completed in the 1990s compared to present research may be skewed due to increased use of heart disease medications and or increased awareness of heart healthy eating. The overall consensus is that omega 3 supplements can lower your blood triglyceride level (risk factor for stroke and heart disease) and may improve blood pressure in people with pre-existing high blood pressure.

  • One thing that seems to be a consistent finding is the intake of seafood (8oz/week from a variety of sources) is associated with fewer cardiac deaths in both healthy individuals and those with preexisting cardiovascular disease which may or may not be related to omega 3 content in fish.


  • There is some beneficial effects on infant birth weight and length of gestation, however other claims such as -visual and cognitive development are not conclusive. Recommendation for pregnant and breastfeeding women is to consume 8-12 ounces of seafood/week and to choose sources that are rich in EPA and DHA and low in mercury.


  • Clinical trial results report that omega-3 supplementation does not benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease

  • For people with mild cognitive impairment, omega-3s may improve attention, processing speed, and immediate recall.


  • Mixed results. Some clinical trials have shown participants taking omega 3 supplement reduced symptoms of dry eyes however overall evidence is not consistent.


  • Insufficient evidence to support taking omega 3 as a treatment of depression however a 2016 meta-analysis of 26 studies found a 17% lower risk of depression with higher fish intake


  • No upper limit however it is found that taking high doses of omega 3 supplements for an extended period of time may reduce immune function. However, according to the European Food Safety Authority, long-term consumption of EPA and DHA supplements at combined doses of up to about 5 g/day appears to be safe.

  • If you are on any anticoagulation medication it is important to talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist before taking omega 3 supplements


  • Heartburn, bad breath, GI discomfort, diarrhea


  • Omega 3 supplements appear to be safe if not exceeding 5 g/day (EPA and DHA combined) so if you are seeing benefits in memory, dry eyes, heart disease risk factors (blood pressure, triglyceride level) than it is likely safe to continue to do so.It is always recommended to talk to your dietitian, doctor and pharmacist when taking a new supplement and to not replace a heart disease, diabetes or antidepressant with a supplement, always talk to your doctor first.

  • Recommend 8 ounces of seafood/week that is rich in EPA and DHA ( salmon, herring, sardines, trout, bass, mackerel)

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