Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA, DHA) Benefits, Dosage & Risks

May 23, 2023

Omega 3 (EPA, DHA) benefits and risks

In this video, Sumit Mehrotra from Wellkasa, talks to Donald Abrams, MD, Integrative Oncologist, to learn about the uses, benefits, and risks of omega fatty acids. See this informative 10-minute video to learn particularly about omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, their benefits, and risks including role of Omegas for people with cancer.  

What are omega fatty acids and their sources?

Omega Fatty acids are unsaturated fats which are essential for many body functions. Common types are omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids make eicosanoids, important hormones that control the immune system, nervous system, and other hormones.

Omega 6 fatty acids cause inflammation which is essential for healing. When there is damage to the body such as wound, omega 6 fatty acids help with platelet coagulation and bruising which is essential for the body to heal. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in commercially produced meats, poultry eggs, vegetable oils, including corn, evening primrose seed, safflower, and soybean oils.

Omega 3 fatty acids on the other hand reduce inflammation by preventing the blood platelets from coagulation. Research also shows omega 3s may support cardiovascular health, joint health, and mental health including depression. Three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic (ALA). EPA and DHA are found in certain types of fish such as Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sea Bass, Anchovy and Herring. ALA is plant-based omega 3 fatty acids found in chia seed, hemp seed, walnuts, and Brussel sprouts.

The omega 6 inflammation growth

The old American diet is believed to have 2:1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. However, our modern American diet is now believed to have up to 18:1 weight in favor of omega 6s. In other words, our natural diet intake today has a much larger portion of inflammation causing omega 6s vs the inflammation reducing omega 3s. This is a result of the industrialization of our food chains. The animals that become our food are fed with cost effective industrial diets which are not their normal foods. As a result, these animals are unable to process these foods and their bodies create more omega 6 fatty acids vs omega 3s. Therefore, when we consume these commercial meats, poultry, and eggs we are consuming more omega 6s - increasing source of inflammation more than our bodies need for healing.

Omega 3 benefits & evidence

Omega 3s are essential for several of our bodily functions. Our body does not produce omega 3 fatty acids, so it needs to be included as a part of our diet or taken as a supplement. Research shows that EPA and DHA, omega 3 fatty acids in Fish Oil is beneficial for:

  • Cardiovascular health
    • Hypertriglyceridemia: Fish oil can reduce triglyceride levels by 20% to 50%
    • Heart failure:  Dietary fish oil seems to prevent heart failure. Also, oral fish oil seems to prevent further hospitalization, and possibly mortality, in patients with heart failure.
    • Hypertension: Oral fish oil seems to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults with moderate or severe hypertension
  • Joint pain and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Depression: Observational research has found that higher dietary intake of fish has been associated with a lower risk of depression and suicide.

EPA, DHA omega 3 fatty acids found in Fish oil have been reached for dozens of medical conditions. Find more information and research on Fish Oil at Wellkasa.

Omega 3 EPA, DHA dosage and risks

Dr. Abrams recommends 1-2 grams daily dose of fish oil-based omega 3 EPA and DHA. He believes that fish-based omega 3s are more potent than plant-based ALA omega 3 fatty acids. However, he encourages vegan omega 3 use if fish-based product is not an option. He suggests that this level of dosage is generally safe for all people including people with cancer. However, he advises caution for daily dosages of 4 grams or more particularly for people with hematologic cancers. The caution is linked to the anti-platelet coagulating property of omega 3s which at doses of 4+ grams daily may be associated with a bleeding risk.

See the entire chat in the video below.