Two new studies have examined the benefits of omega-3 fish oil supplementation on inflammatory markers in migraine sufferers, as well as fatigue and symptom severity in individuals with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and major depressive disorder (MDD).
Study 1: Omega-3 Inflammation – Changes in Those with Migraines
A recent study conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on inflammatory markers in individuals experiencing episodic migraines (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37126739/).
The trial included 40 participants aged 20 to 50 who suffered from at least three migraine attacks per month.
Participants were randomly assigned to receive daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation or a placebo for two months. The omega-3 formulation consisted of 600 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 300 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The group receiving omega-3 supplementation showed a significant increase in interleukin-4 (IL-4), an anti-inflammatory immune messenger, along with a notable decrease in the pro-inflammatory messenger interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) compared to the placebo group.
These findings can pave the way for natural migraine support but also demonstrate the potential to support inflammatory markers that are involved in a number of chronic disorders.
Study 2: Fish Oil for Fatigue – Symptom Improvement in Cardiovascular Disease and Depression Patients
Researchers explored the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in individuals living with both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37301235/).
The randomized controlled trial involved 40 participants with an average age of 60 and took place in a hospital in Taiwan.
All participants had been diagnosed with CVD, including stable myocardial infarction or coronary artery disease, as well as MDD.
The participants were divided into two groups over a 12-week duration – one receiving daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation containing 2 grams of EPA and 1 gram of DHA (3 total grams of omega-3s), and the other group receiving placebo capsules containing soybean oil.
Physical symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, episodes of confusion, slowed movements, nausea, vomiting, sleep problems, body aches, and joint pain improved over the 12-week study, and were experienced the best for those participants 54 years or younger.
Fatigue also improved, but the best results were seen at 4 weeks with omega-3 supplementation compared to the placebo group.
Omega-3 Supplements and Testing – A Deeper Discussion
While some supplementation is better than none, the migraine study used 900mg (0.9g) of total EPA and DHA.
Individuals may need 2-3g+ of combined EPA and DHA supplementation to observe clinically meaningful effects over the full range of omega-3 benefits.
It would be interesting to see what additional findings may have been discovered if the study was repeated with a higher dose of EPA and DHA.
The second study did use 3g of combined EPA and DHA.
Additionally, complete omega-3 supplementation also includes docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), the “forgotten” omega-3 that has overlapping but distinct benefits from EPA and DHA. This was left out of both studies.
While fish oil formulas are increasingly including DPA, this study did not include it.
Fish oil is also best absorbed following a meal, it is unclear if the participants were optimizing absorption in this manner as well.
An at-home Basic Omega-3-Index test can help evaluate if you’re getting enough omega-3’s in the diet or supplements. It measures the percentage of fats that are omega-3’s in red blood cells.
While optimal levels fall between 8-12%, many Americans fall closer to 4-6%, levels that are statistically linked to health risks and mortality at the same risk levels as smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure!
On my first test, I measured 5.1%, and I was taking supplemental Omega-3 and felt I was eating fish often enough. This is why I emphasize it to my followers and clients. You manage what you measure, and omega-3s are high on my priority list.
The Omega-3-Index Complete test will go as far as giving you the breakdown of specific fats that can help personalize omega-3 supplementation as well as other dietary changes associated with non-omega-3 fatty acids.
Pre and post-testing can not only reveal a deficiency but also if you’re getting enough dietary or supplemental omega-3’s in as little as 2 months’ time.
The best value for pre and post-testing and a 2-month supply of 2 grams of EPA/DHA is through the 2-Gram Challenge Box by Nordic Naturals.
It can give you black-and-white evidence of whether your current omega-3 intake or supplementation is sufficient and making a difference.
Best Omega-3 Supplement
When I supplement with omega-3 long-term, I use Omega Complete: EPA, DHA, and DPA Support, at 1-4 softgels once per day following a meal, and is my best value for dose and quality, especially at the 180ct bottle size.