How Long Does It Take For Omega 3 To Work? The Unraveling

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With various clinical trials and observational studies highlighting the potential benefits of eating two or more servings of fish per week and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in general, there’s never been a better time to start consuming fatty fish oils.

But first, you probably want to know; How long does it take for omega 3 to work? When do you start seeing tangible results from omega-3 supplementation?

Knowing how soon before you start to see the various purported benefits of fish oil can do a lot to help you remain persistent when taking your omega-3 fatty acids supplements or tracking the grams per day of fatty fish you consume!

Let’s look at how soon you can expect the health benefits of daily supplementation of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids to kick in!

How Long Does It Take For Omega 3 To Work?

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it takes at least a month before you start seeing the potential benefits of consuming adequate amounts of fish or using enough fish oil Omega 3 supplements.

This may surprise many, mainly because a report published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health confirms that it takes only about 3 to 4 hours for the Omega-3 supplements you take to enter the bloodstream.

But while it mightn’t take long for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to enter the bloodstream, there are a few reasons why it takes longer for any tangible effect in people to surface.

We’ll be looking at some of those now.

how long does it take for omega 3 to work

Why It Takes a While to See the Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Diet

While several circumstances unique to an individual come to play here, there are two significant reasons why it can take at least 30 days for you to register the potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. One you can influence, and the other is purely biological.

1.      It Takes Time For the Compound to Reach Optimal Blood Levels

The effects of omega-3 acid ethyl esters can’t begin if the compound hasn’t reached a high enough blood concentration.

Because of this, the various forms of fish oil supplements or the fish you consume will first saturate the bloodstream. Only after this happens can the substance start to spread to the various areas of your tissues where it’s needed.

And, even then, it’ll have to reach optimal levels here as well before you can see any tangible results.

Furthermore, two variables come into play when estimating how long the entire process described above will take.

Current Level of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Body

The first is the quantity of the reserve of omega-3 fatty acids the body has available. You’ll see higher blood levels sooner if you previously ingested plenty of Omega-3s. However, it’ll take longer for someone struggling with omega-3 deficiency to see any benefits from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation.

Regardless of how someone gets enough fish oil, the body must first replenish its lost reserves before it can use extra  N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to improve any existing health issues.

Consistency of Fatty Acid Supplementation

The next is the consistency with which you take the daily supplement.

If you eat fish, take a fatty meal or consume fish oil mineral supplements infrequently, the body won’t be able to maintain adequate amounts of omega 3s to repair itself.

Even a brief stop or decline in fish consumption or N-3 and N-6 fatty acids supplement can set you back considerably. Only when you take the right amount of omega-3 fatty acid supplements daily can you get the beneficial effects of this compound.

2.      The Concentration of the Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dietary Sources

Another major factor in how long it takes to see the benefits of fish oil supplementation is the concentration of omega-3 fats in your preferred dietary source.

So, it isn’t enough to consume large servings of fish per week or grab a popular supplement. You need to ensure that the oily fish or dietary supplements contain enough eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to work.

We’ll go into greater detail on these two constituents of omega-3 fatty acids as we progress.

But before that, it’s important to emphasize that consuming long-chain omega-3s daily is especially important because this accelerates the speed at which you see certain health benefits.

More specifically, if you maintain daily high-quality omega-3 intake, you will start seeing results after a month.

However, according to clinical trials published by the National Library of Medicine, its impact on heart health and brain health won’t be visible until at least six months after you start your regimen.

Therefore, you have to be sure you stick to your diet correctly.

Also, you need to keep in mind that this complementary health approach isn’t a quick fix because no prospective study has indicated that this compound can rapidly treat people’s brain function decline. It also can’t address any heart health condition quickly.

Instead, this complementary health approach should be considered as a long-term solution as omega-3 fatty acid supplementation ensures you lead a healthier life.

Considering the impact that EPA and DHA have on how long it takes for omega 3 to work, it’s essential to learn more about these compounds. With this in mind, here are some things to know about EPA and DHA.

The Basics of EPA and DHA

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) provide most of the benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements and eating oily fish. Here’s more about these substances.

Eicosapentaenoic Acid

This compound is one of many approved Food and Drug Administration prescription drugs in the United States. This is largely thanks to its ability to reduce elevated triglyceride levels and re-esterified triglycerides.

The American Heart Association also confirms EPA’s ability to regulate natural triglycerides and enhance overall body functions.  

Eicosapentaenoic acid is not to be confused with seemingly similar compounds like dietary alpha-linolenic acid or DHA, as these compounds affect the body in different ways.

Research has shown that, in adequate amounts, this substance positively impacts coronary events and reduces the risk of heart disease. In addition to alleviating heart disease, it also reduces the risk of heart attacks.

There’s also evidence that EPA contributes to normal brain function and cognitive function. However, how it improves normal brain function is not fully understood.

This compound is also commonly used as a blood thinner and alleviates a host of other health conditions. However, clinical evidence that supports its efficacy in treating these health issues is lacking.

Docosahexaenoic Acid

Another powerful compound readily found in any omega-3 supplement, the impact of DHA, is very noticeable in the brain as it increases gray matter. However, its potential benefits include inducing anti-inflammatory effects and boosting immune function.

In the United States, it isn’t uncommon for a health care professional to recommend this dietary supplement to pregnant people. This is because it encourages normal brain function in the fetus, prevents premature birth, and potentially increases birth weight.   

It can also be used in a complementary health approach to manage cognitive impairments better. Similarly, a study shows that DHA can positively influence autism spectrum disorders as it improves factors like cognitive development through childhood.

However, this compound is almost as famous for the side effects it’s known to induce. Depending on various factors like its current blood levels and individual body chemistry, it can trigger health conditions like heartburn and bad breath, to mention a few.

how long does it take for omega 3 to work

What To Note Before Getting on Omega 3 Supplementary Diet

There’s no doubt that there’s much to be had from taking these supplements and many observational studies confirm this fact.

But, before you start consuming doses of fish oils, vegetable oils, or dietary supplements, you should know that there are a few disadvantages to taking these acids in fish oil. This is more so when people consume this compound in excessive amounts.

Outside the fact that some people may be allergic to specific dietary sources of omega-3, like cod liver oil, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has found some downsides to taking these supplements.

These downsides include heartburn, diarrhea, stomach upset, unpleasant fishy taste, and headaches, to mention a few.

There’s also the fact that there’s still a debate over whether omega 3s increase the risk of prostate cancer. In addition to its indeterminate role in prostate cancer risk, these fatty acids can also negatively affect you if you’re on blood clotting medication.

However, on the whole, most of these side effects are easily avoidable if you consult health care providers before you start your regimen and keep your dietary intake within prescribed levels.

Bottom Line

So, how long does it take for omega-3s to work?

To get the full benefits of this supplement, you should expect to wait from 1 to 6 months at least.

While this might seem like a long time to maintain constant fish consumption or swallow supplements, you can rest assured the rewards will be well worth the effort!

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