Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Part of a Healthy Mind and Body

Omega-3 fatty acid benefits
Discover the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and how to find a high quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

Fat – what used to be considered a “dirty” word is finally getting the recognition it deserves as an important part of our health and physical make-up. Omega-3 fatty acids are a great example of this – they are literally one of the fats we need to survive!

So how do omega-3 fatty acids work, what role do they play in the body, and what supplements are best? Let’s take a closer look at this fat powerhouse.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are long chain fatty acids essential to a healthy human body. They are found in organs and tissues throughout the body, including the heart, eyes, joints, and skin to name a few. They are considered essential because we can’t make them on our own – so we either need to get them through our diet or supplementation. 

Naturally, omega-3 fatty acids come in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA). ALA is a shorter chain fatty acid found in plant oils like flaxseed and soybeans. EPA, DHA, and DPA are more active and long-chain fatty acids found in oily fish and other seafood. 

While research hasn’t been entirely clear on all of the mechanisms that omega-3 fatty acids work in the body, much of the anti-inflammatory benefit is believed to come from their substrates called pro-resolving lipid mediators that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Pro-resolving lipid mediators are substrates produced from enzyme reactions during the conversion of fatty acids in the body. They not only are the part of the omega-3 fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory, but they also have positive immune stimulating effects.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Health Benefits

New studies are finding ways omega-3’s may benefit conditions from autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to inflammatory bowel disease, eye health, supporting fetal development, and even cancer. But, more commonly, omega-3’s are known to play significant roles in cardiovascular health, brain function, and the immune system.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits on Cardiovascular Health

Because of their role in reducing inflammation, especially vascular inflammation, it makes sense omega-3 fatty acids help maintain heart health. Research shows omega-3s are associated with lower cardiovascular risk of heart failure and coronary artery disease, and normal blood pressure maintenance. 

According to the American Heart Association, the optimal daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids for blood pressure control is over 3g but more can provide even more benefit. Higher doses for short periods of time can provide additional benefits for lowering blood pressure in those at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and show significant reductions in adverse cardiovascular events. They can also help reduce triglyceride levels. 

The take-away? Three grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids provide strong cardiovascular support for maintaining healthy blood pressure, limiting vascular inflammation, decreasing risk for adverse cardiovascular events, and even reducing abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. How long should you take high dose omega-3’s?  That depends on how quickly your blood levels come up.  That is why it is important to have your level checked regularly. A usual maintenance dose for most people is around 1 gram per day, but will also depend on your dietary intake of omega-3’s.  

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits on Brain Health

Our brains require a constant supply of both EPA and DHA to support healthy brain function and cognition. Some studies even show that omega-3 supplementation is correlated with decreased cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. This is likely because DHA is an essential part of phospholipids in the brain, which make up the cellular membrane of the brain. This protects cognitive function and helps maintain healthy neural functioning and cellular integrity.  

Omega-3 fatty acids also:

  • Help build and maintain tissue in the brain – again, because of the phospholipid bilayer!
  • Support healthy blood flow to the brain
  • Decrease brain inflammation – so much so that high doses of omega-3’s have also been used to prevent and treat mood disorders like depression, which are known to have strong inflammatory components. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits on The Immune System

Through their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids also support immune system health. DPA, for example, is a precursor for a vasculoprotective substance that reduces immune-derived inflammation in the body, thereby affecting the immune system. Even more, one type of omega-3 fatty acid called eicosenoic acid (ESA) which is found in some marine oils like EPA, DPA, and DHA, has immune action functions, which help provide a reduction in cardiovascular disease risks.

How To Get Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids

For some, getting enough omega-3 fatty acids through food is enough. But, for others a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement is needed.

EPA and DHA come primarily through eating oily fish and seafood, like salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines. Interestingly, the fatty acids are actually synthesized first by microalgae. When fish consume the microalgae and phytoplankton at the bottom of the food chain, they accumulate omega-3s into their tissues. This explains why omega-3 levels are highest in wild fish, since they consume algae and phytoplankton as part of their normal diet. Farm-raised fish tend to be grain fed, causing lower levels of omega-3’s.

Recommended Daily Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Because of the cardiovascular benefits, brain health and cognition support, and anti-inflammatory benefits, getting enough omega-3’s is important for optimal health. The American Heart Association recommends up to 4 g of omega-3 fats daily until ideal levels are achieved for optimal health and cardiovascular function.

Can You Check Omega-3 Levels in the Blood?

A blood test called the Omega Check blood test looks at levels in the body, with a normal range being above 5.4. Although, optimal levels are closer to 8. Higher levels of omega-3 levels in the blood are correlated with better health outcomes, especially for the cardiovascular system.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements

More important than even taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement is making sure you find one that is good quality. So how do you know if an omega supplement is good quality? Third-party testing is a great way to start. By having an outside company independent of the supplement company test for things like heavy metals, potency, purity, and freshness, you can find out more information about the quality of the supplement. The supplement company should state their product is third-party tested, and you’ll be able to find the information on their website. 

One that we recommend to our patients is the Mega Omega supplement. This omega-3 fish oil supplement is sourced from the world’s least industrialized coastline in Chile, where fish are sustainably caught in cold, clean waters. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Functional Medicine

Omega-3 fatty acids are required for a healthy, happy life. Not only do they affect cardiovascular health, they can also impact mood, brain health, eye health, and the immune system! This makes getting them each day important. 

At Arizona Wellness Medicine, we recognize the importance of a high quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement in your daily routine. Our functional medicine approach builds in quality supplementation to support you in living well and feeling great. That’s why we created the Mega Omega supplement – to make sure you get everything you need from your omega-3 supplement. Learn more about our high quality supplement here.


  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  2. An Update on Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Health
  3. Importance of EPA and DHA Blood Levels in Brain Structure and Function
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation, Pro-Resolving Mediators, and Clinical Outcomes in Maternal-Infant Pairs
  5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  6. Enriched Marine Oil Supplements Increase Peripheral Blood Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators Concentrations and Reprogram Host Immune Responses
  7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life1
  8. Omega‐3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Intake and Blood Pressure: A Dose‐Response Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
  9. Importance of EPA and DHA Blood Levels in Brain Structure and Function
  10. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells



Social Media

Most Popular Posts

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Read all of Dr. Emily’s latest updates to stay informed about ways you can upgrade your approach to wellness.
No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts