Read This Before You Take An Omega-3 Supplement

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for our health, so it's not surprising that many people take supplements to ensure they are getting enough. But do you really need to take a supplement? If so, how much should you take? Here's what you should know about omega-3 supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own (via National Institutes of Health). There are three main omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in nuts and some vegetable oils. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish and other types of seafood.

Omega-3s offer many health benefits. According to Verywell Fit, they can reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels. They can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids may also provide arthritis relief, as well as help those with depression, ADHD, dementia, and lupus. Some studies even suggest they may decrease the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer, but results are not conclusive and need more evidence to be definitive.

Do you need to take an omega-3 supplement?

It's clear that getting enough omega-3s in your diet is important. According to Byrdie, reaching your recommended daily intake through food is the best option but it's a good idea to add a supplement if you're not getting enough through food. "Food first is always recommended," Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant and the author of "The Small Change Diet," told Byrdie. "However, in many instances the dose needed for a specific health benefit may be difficult to reach with food alone. Therefore, in some instances, supplementing is indeed needed."

According to Healthline, the Food and Drug Administration has suggested that people do not exceed 3,000 mg of omega-3s per day. It can sometimes be unclear how much EPA and DHA a supplement contains because these usually come in the form of fish oil that is not 100% omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure you read the label on your supplement to ensure you are getting the amount that your healthcare provider recommends.