There is no wrong time of day to take fish oil supplements. However, some evidence suggests that people absorb omega-3s more effectively when ingested with a meal that contains dietary fat.
This comes from a study in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.
Fish oil is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can have a number of health benefits.
In this article, we’re going to discuss when people should take fish oil, how to take it, how to dose it, and what health benefits and side effects it has.
There is no significant benefit in taking fish oil at any particular time of the day. However, people may want to ingest fish oil with a meal that contains dietary fat.
A 2019 study of omega-3 found that ingesting an omega-3 concentrate with fatty foods increased bioavailability and made it easier for the body to absorb.
Additionally, an older 2015 study found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids with a low-fat meal decreased absorption.
Both studies looked specifically at omega-3 fatty acids, so the results may not apply to people who ingest fish oil. In addition, the amount of omega-3 in fish oil can vary, depending on factors such as the type of fish and brand.
People can take fish oil capsules with water during a meal. If a person doesn’t normally eat a lot of fat for breakfast, they may want to wait until lunch or dinner before ingesting it.
Some people have gastrointestinal side effects from taking fish oil. If a person is experiencing this side effect, it may be helpful to split their fish oil into two doses and take them at different times of the day.
People who split their dose in half may need to take it with separate meals.
Researchers have found that it is difficult to determine an optimal amount of omega-3 fatty acids per day.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults consume between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 per day. However, other countries and organizations recommend different dosages.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) notes that some types of omega-3 do not have an officially recommended dose, but alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an exception. This table shows the recommended daily amounts according to age and gender:
The amount of ALA in omega-3 supplements can depend on the type of supplement and the manufacturer. Read the product label to determine how much a supplement contains.
Omega-3 fatty acids can have positive effects on human health in a number of ways. Research into its benefits is ongoing, but there is evidence that it:
- Lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive dysfunction
- improve baby health and easily increase birth weight
- Reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration leading to vision loss
- Protect heart health and lower triglyceride levels
- Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
However, many studies of the health benefits of omega-3s have focused on getting these fatty acids from fish and seafood rather than fish oil capsules. If a person wants to use fish oil for health reasons, they should speak to a doctor first.
Some specific conditions that may benefit from higher omega-3 intake are:
According to a 2015 review, there is some evidence that consuming omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent or treat cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular death.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also have antiarrhythmic effects, which means that they support a person’s heartbeat in a regular pattern. The effect of omega-3 fatty acids on arrhythmias can greatly reduce the risk of fatal ventricular arrhythmias.
However, recent studies show that taking omega-3s to prevent the adverse effects of cardiovascular disease may not have any clear benefit. There is also evidence that taking statins at the same time as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may reduce the protective effect on cardiovascular disease.
Scientists need to do more research on omega-3s and their relationship with preventing or treating cardiovascular disease.
Some studies have shown that high omega-3 intake can reduce the risk of mortality from inflammatory diseases.
Some have also found that omega-3s are beneficial for people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two types of inflammatory bowel disease.
However, there is no clinically significant evidence that omega-3 fatty acids help prevent relapse in people with these conditions.
Several in vitro studies show that omega-3 fatty acids have an effect on colon cancer stem cells (CCSC). CCSC have a long lifespan and can self-renew, which leads to colon tumors.
CCSC can lead to cancer recurrence and chemotherapy resistance. Omega-3 fatty acids can stop CCSC from growing and reduce chemotherapy resistance.
Omega-3s can have several beneficial effects in relation to prostate cancer, although research on this is mixed.
Several studies have shown that consuming fish or omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer, including aggressive forms.
However, other studies suggest that consuming omega-3 fatty acids for preventing prostate cancer has no clear benefit.
Side effects from fish oil supplements are usually mild. They include:
- unpleasant taste
- bad breath
- a headache
- bad smelling sweat
In addition, omega-3 supplements can have an adverse interaction with drugs that affect blood clotting.
People should check with their health care provider to make sure it is safe for them to take a supplement before trying.
Some evidence suggests that taking omega-3 supplements with a meal that contains fat may increase absorption. As a result, people may want to have fish oil for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. However, there is no right or wrong time to do it.
Always speak to a doctor before starting a new supplement. If a person is experiencing side effects, they can benefit from breaking their dose into two parts.