When should I start taking an omega 3 supplement?

Published December 4, 2014

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Omega-3 fatty acids form an important part of a healthy, well balanced diet throughout all stages of life, from infancy to the elderly. They’re important for normal growth and development, and for heart, brain and may relieve mild rheumatic aches and pains.
To obtain sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet for maintaining good health, adults should aim to eat two to three serves of oily fish per week1. Supplements are a convenient addition to Omega-3 intake through the diet.

How do pregnant women and infants benefit from Omega-3?

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are important for normal fetal growth, brain development and healthy vision.
  • The greatest period of brain growth occurs from the third trimester of pregnancy until 18 months of age.
  • Supplementation of DHA during pregnancy (especially during the last trimester) and early lactation influences the DHA status of the newborn.
  • Supplementation during pregnancy may also help maintain the health and wellbeing of the mother.

What are the benefits of Omega-3 for children?

There has been a lot written about the benefits of Omega-3 essential fatty acids for adults. For instance, the value they play in heart and brain health. However, the importance of Omega-3 extends to childhood. In fact, the need for Omega-3 begins during pregnancy with extra supplementation by the mother.

  • As with infancy, Omega-3 fatty acids are needed for normal growth, development and overall health in childhood. A sufficient intake supports healthy brain and cognitive function, may be beneficial for behaviour and learning in some children, and maintains a normal healthy nervous system.
  • During childhood, the brain and nervous system undergoes rapid growth and development. Omega-3 fatty acids support this growth, as well as normal brain and nervous system function. It’s recommended that children aged one to three years obtain at least 40mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per day, four to eight year olds 55mg and children nine to thirteen years at least 70mg.
  • Omega-3 may be beneficial for learning and memory, as well as attention and behaviour in some children.
  • If possible, children should obtain the Omega-3 they need from natural food sources such as fish. If you feel that your child may not be consuming adequate amounts of Omega-3 in their diet, a fish oil supplement may be of benefit. Speak to your healthcare professional for about which supplement would be best for his or her individual needs.

What are the benefits of Omega-3 for adults?

Omega-3 supplements may be beneficial for general health, including:

  • Cardiovascular health,
  • Cognitive/mental health,
  • Eye health
  • May relieve mild rheumatic aches and pains.

Ensuring you consume sufficient amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids throughout adulthood is one way to help maintain good health well into middle age and your golden years. You can achieve this by taking a daily Omega-3 supplement if your dietary intake of Omega-3 is inadequate.

What are the benefits of Omega-3 as we get older?

As we age our, heart, brain and entire body age as well. Taking a combined eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA supplement every day may help to relieve mild rheumatic aches and pains and maintain a healthy heart and normal triglycerides in healthy individuals. This may also help support cognitive function and memory in the ageing brain.

References:

  1. Heart Foundation, Sources of Omega-3, 2015. Accessed October, 2018. URL: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/Programs/Sources_of_Omega_3.pdf

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