We all know omega-3s are good for your health. We also know the benefits of omega-3 range from protecting your heart, brain and eyes to supporting joint health and reducing inflammation. The definitive list of omega-3 benefits would certainly be a long one – there are tens of thousands of academic studies of the benefits of omega-3 intake. We take a look at some surprising, lesser known benefits of omega-3.

 

1. Omega-3 may help sleep

Recent research from Oxford University has produced a number of fascinating insights into the importance of a particular type of omega-3 and children’s learning. In these studies, children with low levels of ‘DHA‘ (a specific type of omega-3) scored significantly worse on tests for memory, behaviour, concentration, reading and numeracy than children who had sufficient DHA levels. Furthermore, the researchers consequently noted that increasing DHA levels in the children with low DHA by using a DHA supplement helped them improve their performance and bridge the gap to their peers. Increasing DHA levels increased learning outcomes.

What does this have to do with sleep? The Oxford team have recently expanded on their study. Their most recent results show that low DHA levels also can lead to poor sleep in children.  Giving a DHA  supplement to the children in the study with low DHA levels improved the quality of their sleep.

 

2. Omega-3 may support male fertility

A 2010 study published in The Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the relationship  between omega-3 fatty acid concentrations in fertile and infertile men. Fertile men tended to have higher omega-3 levels than infertile men. Further research is required to consolidate and expand on these findings. However, the results from the study do echo the findings of several animal studies in rats and guppies – both animal studies showed a link between fertility and omega-3 levels.

 

3. Omega-3s may protect ageing brains

From the University of Maryland’s overview of omega-3 research:

A number of studies show that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with increased risk of age related cognitive decline or dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists believe the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is protective against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

 

4. Omega-3s may support stronger bones.

Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D may not be the only nutrients for supporting strong bones. Several studies have looked at the relationship between omega-3 intake and bone density. Whilst further research is required, there is preliminary evidence to suggest there may be a link between omega-3 levels and maintaining bone density over time.

 

5. Omega-3 may help menstrual pain

Preliminary research and anecdotal evidence suggests women who take fish oil during menstruation may experience a decline in menstrual pain.