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The Ultimate Guide To Fish Oil and Omega-3 Supplements

April 24, 2019

SECTIONS: •Where do omega-3 fatty acids come from?"The Omega 3 and Omega 6 balance and why it matters to youThe Difference Between EPA and DHA and choosing a fish oil supplementWho should take omega-3s?The benefits of omega-3sHow much fish oil should I take?Contraindications and potential side effectsConclusion No they won't help you swim faster, but the benefits of taking fish oil supplements are numerous. Over the last decade fish oils and other omega-3 fatty acid supplements have skyrocketed to become one of the most popular general health supplements on the market. Why are fish oils so great? Because they are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. More specifically, they are loaded with two key omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). (Check out PrettyFit Omegas, they have ultra-pure, ultra-high dosages of EPA and DHA compared to most Omega-3 supplements available.*) The benefits of omega-3s are widespread throughout the body, so they can be helpful to both athletes and non-athletes looking to improve overall health, mental health, everyday body function and physical performance. That being said, some benefits of omega-3 supplementation have been overhyped with little scientific evidence to support the claims. In this article, we'll cover the benefits of omega-3 supplements and show you which claims are backed by science and those that are more marketing hype than scientific truth. Also, it's important to note that the benefits of omega-3's are linked to the amount of omega-6's in your diet, another common fatty acid. There is a balance between both compounds and the amount of omega-6's you eat may increase or decrease the benefits of a fish oil or omega-3 supplements. First, it's important to know what omega-3's are...

Where do omega-3 fatty acids come from?

omega 3 fish chart Photo: Cell To Cell Health The most common and abundant natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids come from the tissues of fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, cod and tuna. To make fish oil supplements, meat from these fish are pressed and processed and sold as "Fish Oils". Other omega-3 supplements can come from vegetarian options like walnuts, flaxseed and omega-3 enriched eggs. Just know if you are using whole foods to get your omega-3s, fish are typically loaded with more omegas than the vegetarian options.

The Omega 3 and Omega 6 balance and why it matters to you

brass scales Photo: Pond5 Omega-6 fatty acids are another form of polyunsaturated fats found in foods we eat. Unfortunately, they are quite prevalent in the modern western diet which can result in an imbalance in O3 and O6 intake. O6 fatty acids tend to be pro-inflammatory while O3s are generally anti-inflammatory. This makes it important to ingest a proper ratio of O3s to O6s. A lower ratio of O6s to O3s has been shown to help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases associated with western societies and diets. In order to maximize the benefits of a fish oil supplement, limit your O6 intake. Even though our bodies need O6 fatty acids, the common western diet is extremely rich in O6s which can be found in partially hydrogenated fats, processed vegetable oils and other processed foods.

The Difference Between EPA and DHA and choosing a fish oil supplement

fish oil omega 3 Photo: Pond5 When purchasing a fish oil supplement, it's important to check the ratio of EPA and DHA in the ingredient profile. In fish oil supplements, not all of the “fish oil” will be EPA and DHA. While both compounds are beneficial to your health, they serve different purposes. Depending on what you're looking for in a fish oil supplement, you'll want a higher EPA or DHA ratio. By having a slightly higher ratio of one versus the other you can maximize specific benefits of each.

EPA - Eicosapentaenoic Acid

EPA has been shown in studies to be more beneficial than DHA in lowering overall LDL (bad cholesterol). Also, it has been suggested to be more effective than DHA in treating depression.

DHA - Docosahexaenoic Acid

DHA has been shown to be more efficient than EPA at reducing total triglyceride levels, increasing HDL (good cholesterol), improving cognition and preventing cognitive decline in healthy older adults. Both EPA and DHA have been shown to be beneficial for their stress fighting properties.

Our recommendation

Though both are beneficial for your health, overall, DHA seems to have more health benefits than EPA. We recommend finding a fish oil supplement with high levels of DHA such as PrettyFit Omegas. RELATED: PrettyFit Omegas have more than double the amount of EPA and DHA per capsule compared to leading Omega-3 supplements.*

Who should take omega-3s?

who should take fish oils Photo: Pond5 In short, most people can benefit from increased omega-3 consumption. Whether it comes from eating more fish or from an omega supplement, the benefits range from heart and brain health, to joint and skin health.

The benefits of omega-3s

fish oil benefits Photo: Pond5 Look through the following benefits, the studies involved and see if an omega supplement is right for you.

Anti-inflammatory properties and ailments

The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s are well-known, with some studies even showing fish oil supplements as a safe alternative to NSAIDs for treating different inflammatory caused ailments. Overall, the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil supplementation have been shown to improve general inflammation, as well a number of other ailments such as “rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.”

Heart health

According to the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, fish oils can help reduce blood pressure and lower elevated serum triglyceride levels. EPA and DHA can also help balance your cholesterol levels by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (good cholesterol). What’s more, according to Harvard School of Public Health professors Dariush Mozaffarian and Eric Rimm “eating about 2 grams per week of omega-3 fatty acids in fish, equal to about one or two servings of fatty fish a week, reduces the chances of dying from heart disease by more than one-third."

Brain health

Regular consumption of fish can help reduce the risk of stroke, depression, alzheimer's disease and can be a great preventative method for late-life brain health. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that DHA found in fish oils is a neuroprotective agent that can help alleviate inflammation and preserve brain cell function.

Mental health and depression

Omega-3 supplementation in studies has been shown as a potential treatment for depressive symptoms and anxieties. Research has shown a potential link between inflammation and depression. One inflammatory pathway is through cytokine, an inflammatory protein in the body. Fish oil supplementation helps reduce cytokine levels, thereby alleviating symptoms of depression. Furthermore, in one study, medical students who took omega-3 supplements produced fewer cytokines and showed decreased anxiety levels. This suggests that fish oils may be a potential ailment for both depression and anxiety.

Boosts memory and mental performance

Various studies have shown that higher serum DHA levels are associated with superior performance on tests of non-verbal reasoning and working memory. These studies show that after 6-months of supplementation, healthy adults can see an improvement in both learning and memory skills.

Joint pain

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-3 supplementation can help alleviate joint pain associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and painful menstruation.

Cancer prevention

Though fish oil supplementation has shown some promise in reducing the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer, more studies are necessary before we can conclude anything significant.

Skin health

Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, fish oils have been studied as a relief from psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions. However, more research is needed in regards to skin hydration, elasticity and overall health. Need a high quality fish oil supplement? Try PrettyFit Omegas

How much fish oil should I take?

According to Harvard Public school of Health, "Harvard School of Public Health professors Dariush Mozaffarian and Eric Rimm calculated that eating about 2 grams per week of omega-3 fatty acids in fish, equal to about one or two servings of fatty fish a week, reduces the chances of dying from heart disease by more than one-third." Dosing of fish oils should be based on the levels of DHA and EPA. As not all of the fish oil is EPA and DHA, check the total EPA+DHA on the ingredient label on your bottle. We recommend 500mg or more of combined EPA+DHA daily in order to maximize benefits.

Contraindications and potential side effects

According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, Do not take more than 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules without the supervision of a health care provider, due to an increased risk of bleeding. There is also a risk of high mercury levels from low quality fish oils and general mercury levels of salt water fish. Read labels and research fish oil brands carefully before purchasing a fish oil supplement. As always, consult with a physician before starting a supplement regimen.


Fish oils provide numerous general health benefits for people of different ages. Unless you eat fish two or more times a week, you can most likely benefit from a fish oil supplement. Our recommendation is a fish oil supplement like PrettyFit Omegas. It is a high quality fish oil that contains an excellent ratio of DHA and EPA along with a dose of Vitamin E, another excellent neuroprotective compound and antioxidant.

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