When Is the Best Time to Take Omega-3 to Avoid Side Effects?

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fatty acids primarily found in marine animals and plants. Unlike saturated fats, omega-3s are associated with a wide range of health benefits. They've been helpful in the treatment of many different diseases and can even help prevent cancer.

Unlike saturated fat, which you should limit, omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be healthy, essential fats. (Image: a_namenko/iStock/GettyImages)

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are short-chain and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are sometimes referred to simply as PUFAs. These beneficial fatty acids can be found in marine plant and animal sources, meaning that the omega-3 supplements you may be taking are made of fish oil or algae oil.

There are three main PUFAs that you consume when taking omega-3 supplements: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega-3 supplements typically focus, however, on EPA and DHA. The amounts of these can vary a great deal from manufacturer to manufacturer and among supplement types.

A typical fish oil supplement provides about 1,000 milligrams of fish oil, containing 180 milligrams of EPA and 120 milligrams of DHA, but extra-strength variants can be as high as 504 milligrams of EPA and 378 milligrams of DHA for each 1,400-milligram fish oil capsule.

Why Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are not the only omega fatty acids we consume in our daily diets. Omega-6 fatty acids are also important. However, while many people consume the right amount of omega-6, they tend to be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. If you think you may not be getting enough omega-3 from the food you're eating, you may want to consider taking supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with a wide range of health benefits. Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help:

  • Prevent cancer. This includes breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer.
  • Prevent and treat cardiovascular issues, including arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, heart attacks and high blood pressure.
  • Treat diabetes and possibly reduce insulin resistance.

Best Time to Take Omega-3

There have been no scientific studies undertaken on the best time to take omega-3 supplements. One of the well-known and very unpopular side effects of these supplements may, however, be reason enough to take them at bedtime.

As a marine-source-derived supplement, omega-3s create the frequent side effect of recurring "fishy breath" and indigestion. If you've experienced this side effect or are concerned about experiencing it, consider bedtime the best time for your omega-3s. This makes it less likely that you'll notice the problem.

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