Omega 3 benefits aren’t immediate, they build up through days, weeks and months of use. That means that over time with consistent intake, the benefits can be felt and seen.
Omega 3 or fish oil as is the common term used to refer to two important omega 3 acids – DHA and EPA.
These omega 3 fatty acids are mostly found in fish, while some can be also found in other animal products. The reason fish oil is recommended as a source is the price. It’s the cheapest and most common source of them.
SKELETAL MUSCLE ANABOLISM
Lets start with the first and most important benefits, the vanity ones. Regardless if you’re young or old, there are great omega 3 benefits, when it comes to body composition.
In conclusion, 6 weeks of supplemental fish oil significantly increased lean mass, and significantly reduced fat mass in healthy adults. We conclude that LCn-3PUFAs have anabolic properties in healthy young and middle-aged adults. (Smith et al., 2011)
But considering that sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of muscle mass quality, which is very important if we want to age healthily, you could also make a sound argument, that muscle mass isn’t just about vanity.
With sarcopenia comes loss of function and independence. A big party pooper. But luckily omega 3 prevents that.
Omega-3 fatty acids stimulate muscle protein synthesis in older adults and may be useful for the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia (Smith et al., 2011).
CONSISTENTLY LOWERS INFLAMMATION
As mentioned before, omega 3 benefits also include lowering inflammation. They reduce the exercise induced inflammation, decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS for the gym fanatics) and increase the rate of recovery.
That means you can increase your volume and make bigger improvements in shorter amount of time. What’s not to like here?
IMPROVES JOINT HEALTH
As anecdotal evidence I would offer my own experience. Due to the wear and tear of weightlifting and hell, just regular daily struggles of life my joints started to be “felt”.
I decided to try increasing my omega 3 intake, and that turned out to work like a charm. It turns out there is a lot of evidence and studies that prove it’s efficacy.
There is high level evidence (meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials) for symptomatic benefits from fish oil use in rheumatoid arthritis, and there is biologic plausibility for its clinical effects (Proudman et al., 2008).
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS IMPROVE COGNITION
Fish oil supplementation has been associated with improving cognitive abilities including reaction time, decision making, and stabilizing mood.
Participants’ brains worked ‘less hard’ and achieved a better cognitive performance than prior to supplementation (Bauer, et al., 2014).
On top of that, four studies on omega 3 benefits assessed their effects on treating dementia, and found a trend in favor of its use.
As the intake of omega 3 fatty acids, be it in fish or supplemental oil form, lowered the risk of dementia and improved cognitive function (Issa et al., 2006).
REDUCES THE RISK OF STROKE AND HEART ATTACK
Fish oil has improved exercise performance in some but not all studies. In most of the studies, fish oil increased cardiovascular health even if performance was not enhanced to a statistically significant degree.
Fish oil can reduce heart rate during rest and exercise implying a more efficient heart. This effect is perhaps because of direct effects on electrophysiological function of the heart. It can also lower high blood pressure (Hill et al., 2007).
IMPROVES BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
Brain function and vision rely on dietary intake of DHA to support a broad range of cell membrane properties, particularly in grey matter, which is rich in membranes.
A major structural component of the mammalian brain, DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain.
Thus although omega 3 intake is important for health reasons, It’s even more important during your adolescence years.
OMEGA 3 BENEFITS – FOOD OR SUPPLEMENTATION
Although there are additional omega 3 benefits, like improved skin health and skin elasticity I decided to focus more on the important ones. Basically, however you look, they’re worth the money – just sayin.
Generally I would recommend you get your omega 3 benefits through food – namely sea food. But sadly that is not always feasible. Be it due to certain conditions. It could be the price, it could be the region you live, your dislike of certain foods etc.
In which case I strongly recommend supplementation. Now not all fish oil supplements are equal. There are lower-grade fish oil supplements can be contaminated with heavy metals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), or other toxins.
Pharmaceutical grade fish oils are purified and should contain negligible quantities of these toxins. And in addition, you should get fish oil that has added vitamin E, as vitamin E is an antioxidant.
If you want to get full omega 3 benefits you need to ingest non rancid ones.
As monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are more prone to oxidation, atleast compared to saturated fats, nature always pairs up vitamin E with them. Nuts are a great example, a lot of unsaturated fats and vitamin E .
- Noreen, E. E., Sass, M. J., Crowe, M. L., Pabon, V. A., Brandauer, J., & Averill, L. K. (2010). Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 31. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-7-31
- Smith, G. I., Atherton, P., Reeds, D. N., Mohammed, B. S., Rankin, D., Rennie, M. J., & Mittendorfer, B. (2011). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia–hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clinical science, 121(6), 267-278. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499967/
- Smith, G. I., Atherton, P., Reeds, D. N., Mohammed, B. S., Rankin, D., Rennie, M. J., & Mittendorfer, B. (2011). Dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 93(2), 402-412. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21159787
- Bauer, I., Hughes, M., Rowsell, R., Cockerell, R., Pipingas, A., Crewther, S., & Crewther, D. (2014). Omega‐3 supplementation improves cognition and modifies brain activation in young adults. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 29(2), 133-144. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24470182
- Proudman, S. M., Cleland, L. G., & James, M. J. (2008). Dietary omega-3 fats for treatment of inflammatory joint disease: efficacy and utility. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, 34(2), 469-479.
- Issa, A. M., Mojica, W. A., Morton, S. C., Traina, S., Newberry, S. J., Hilton, L. G., … & MacLean, C. H. (2006). The efficacy of omega–3 fatty acids on cognitive function in aging and dementia: a systematic review. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders, 21(2), 88-96. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16340205
- Hill, A. M., Buckley, J. D., Murphy, K. J., & Howe, P. R. (2007). Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(5), 1267-1274. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1267.long