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Omega-3 fatty acids are present in fish and some other food sources. Although study findings suggest that a diet rich in omega-3 provides health benefits, researchers are less certain about the effectiveness of supplements.

This article considers the possible benefits of taking omega-3 supplements and explains what to look for when buying them.

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Omega-3 fatty acids are part of a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that support several functions in the body.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid.

The NCCIH list some of their possible benefits, stating that:

They also note that other claims about fatty acids, whether from a person’s diet or supplements, are either inconclusive or remain unsupported by the findings of studies.

A 2019 study found that omega-3 supplements did not lower incidences of cardiovascular disease events. However, a 2020 article published on the same group after further analyses found that in people who ate less than 1.5 servings of fish per week, taking supplements led to a decrease in their risk of developing heart disease.

Another trial, known as REDUCE-IT, had similar results relating to cardiovascular events and death. The researchers found that in comparison with a placebo, omega-3 supplements reduced high blood triglyceride levels and the risk of cardiac-related events or death.

However, participants all had high triglyceride levels at baseline and were on statin therapy. This could mean that the results apply only to specific groups of people, not the general population.

According to an article in the NYU Langone Online Journal of Medicine, the REDUCE-IT study is an anomaly among other studies that generally show limited evidence of omega-3 reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. Though the author urges further research, they also acknowledge that taking an omega-3 supplement is likely not a bad idea.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they would not object to certain health claims about omega-3 supplements reducing the risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease. In other words, as long as manufacturers follow the FDA’s guidelines, they can claim that their products may reduce these risks.

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

As with other supplements and vitamins, the FDA does not directly regulate the manufacturing of omega-3 supplements. However, they have approved two prescription medications that contain these fatty acids: Lovaza and Vascepa. Doctors can use these drugs to lower triglyceride levels in people living with hypertriglyceridemia.

The authors of a 2016 study state that there are major differences between prescription omega-3s such as Lovaza and dietary supplements. The study outlines that prescription omega-3 supplements are superior due to:

  • rigorous regulatory standards
  • the consistency of effectiveness
  • the consistency of safety

People interested in taking omega-3 supplements should talk to a doctor first. This is particularly true for pregnant or breastfeeding people and those taking prescribed medications or other supplements.

Considerations

When selecting an omega-3 supplement, a person should consider the following:

  • how much the supplement will likely cost
  • certifications from third-party reviewers for safety and purity standards
  • the product’s dosage
  • supplement type, such as gummy or capsule

Also, according to the NCCIH, there are no finalized studies that indicate whether omega-3 fish oil supplements are safe for people who have seafood allergies.

The Association of UK Dietitians recommends that people check the vitamin A content of omega-3 supplements, as daily vitamin A intake from food and supplements combined should not exceed 1.5 milligrams (mg).

In addition, individuals should choose products that have the least amount of heavy metals or fillers.

There are also supplements suitable for those that follow a vegan or gluten-free diet.

Many omega-3 supplements are available to buy. Below, we list four products that people may wish to try.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All product information is purely research-based and correct at the time of publishing.

Life Extension Super Omega-3 EPA/DHA Fish Oil, Sesame Lignans & Olive Extract

Life Extension’s Super Omega-3 soft gelatin capsules or softgels contain a formula that comprises EPA, DHA, sesame lignans, and olive extract. Research suggests that both sesamin, a lignan in sesame, and olive leaf extract may help prevent heart disease.

The company offers different types of supplements that come in different quantity options.

According to the product page, a person should take four softgels with food per day. They should ask a doctor if the product is safe for them if they take any medications or have a bleeding disorder.

The International Fish Oil Standards have given this product a five-star certification. It is also gluten-free and uses non-genetically modified organisms (GMO) products.

This product is available to purchase online for around $14.

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

These omega-3 supplements are from wild-caught sardines and anchovies, and according to the Nordic Naturals website, they support the brain, heart, and immune system.

They have a fresh lemon taste and come in two forms. The softgels contain 1,280 mg of omega-3 and are available in counts of 90–210. The liquid contains 2,840 mg of omega-3, and a person can buy a 4- or 8-ounce bottle.

This product is GMO-free.

The company recommends that people take two softgels per day with food. They can also ask a doctor if they can take two softgels with food twice daily.

Individuals who purchase the liquid form should take a half teaspoon (tsp) to one tsp per day. Once they open the bottle, they can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

These supplements are available to purchase online, starting from around $28.

Briogeo B. Well Vegan Omega-3, 6, 9 + Biotin

Briogeo’s B. Well softgels contain omega-3 derived from algae to support healthy hair.

This product is vegan-friendly and suitable for persons who have straight, wavy, curly, and coily hair. They do not contain harsh sulfates, silicones, parabens, or artificial dyes. They are also gluten-free.

The bottle contains 60 softgels, and the company recommends taking two softgels with food per day. Individuals may notice that they have a marine odor.

People who buy these supplements receive free samples of other selected products and can also benefit from 30-day returns.

These omega-3 supplements are available online for $35.

Natural Force Pure Omega-3

Nature Force’s liquid omega-3 contains EPA, DHA, and docosapentaenoic acid. The company claims this product can reduce inflammation and support brain function.

It has a lemon cake flavor and does not contain any fillers or synthetic colors. The products undergo third-party tests for safety and purity standards.

Natural Force uses a manufacturing facility that is certified according to regulations set out by the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practises.

The liquid comes in a UV-light-blocking amber glass bottle. The manufacturer recommends taking 1 tsp daily. People can add it to smoothies, tea, coffee, and other drinks.

A person can purchase Pure Omega-3 online for around $40. Natural Force provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Omega-3 is associated with only minor side effects. According to the NCCIH, these may include:

They also note that while researchers found a link between high omega-3 levels and prostate cancer in some studies, the findings are not conclusive.

People taking medications for blood clotting should talk to a doctor before starting the supplement due to possible complications.

There are several dietary sources of omega-3, including:

For people who do not eat or enjoy seafood, omega-3s are also present in plant-based foods and oils, such as:

In addition, a person can look for foods fortified with fatty acids. These can include:

A person should speak with a doctor before starting any new supplement, including omega-3.

People taking blood clotting medication should not take the supplement before asking a doctor, as the combination can lead to complications. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also speak with a doctor before taking omega-3.

Omega-3 supplements may provide some benefits by boosting heart health and lowering levels of triglycerides in the blood. Many of the other claims regarding their benefits require additional research.

A person interested in taking omega-3 supplements should speak with a doctor first. If they decide to take the supplement, they should opt for products that have undergone a third-party review for safety and purity.