Most fish oil supplements will recommend that you take them with a meal that contains fat to help with absorption. mbg’s Omega-3 potency+ is no exception and even notes this on the Supplement Facts panel!
This doesn’t necessarily impact when you should take your fish oil, but may help alleviate side effects like fishy breath or acid reflux.
Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body maintain its critical organs and reduce inflammation. The body can’t make these fats, so we need to get them from food or supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits, including reducing risk factors for heart disease (heart attacks and stroke), improving eye health and alleviating arthritis pain and stiffness.
You can find omega-3 fatty acids in vegetable oils like flaxseed, canola and soybean, as well as nuts and chia seeds, but many people take them as fish oil pills. While a person can take omega-3 fatty acid supplements at any time of the day, some research suggests that it’s better to consume them with a meal that contains a source of fat to increase absorption.
For example, one 2019 study found that taking omega-3 fatty acids with a meal rich in fat increases bioavailability by two times compared to taking them on an empty stomach. That’s because the fat in the meal helps the omega-3s to dissolve, making them easier for your body to absorb.
However, the timing of your meal isn’t as important as just taking them consistently, explains registered dietitian nutritionist Joanne Natker. You should also choose a high-quality fish oil supplement with an expiration date, a third-party certificate of analysis and no mercury, PCBs or dioxins. A certified organic fish oil is ideal as it’s more likely to have been produced in environmentally responsible ways.
Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can slow down dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But these results are preliminary and need further study. In one study, researchers took spinal fluid samples from the brains of participants who consumed four or more servings of fish a week and compared them to those of people who did not eat as much fish. They found that those who ate more fish had a slower rate of memory decline, which they compared to a brain that was four years younger. They also had fewer symptoms of cognitive impairment. (Researchers also found that a diet low in omega-3s was linked to cognitive impairment.)
Taking omega-3 supplements at any time of day can benefit your heart health, mental health, and more. But if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, it may be helpful to time your doses so that they maximize absorption.
As a general rule, it’s best to take omega-3 fish oil with a meal. This is because the fats in the food will help your body absorb the fatty acids, which makes it more effective than just taking it on an empty stomach. However, it’s not always practical to eat two meals every day. That’s why some people prefer to take their fish oil at night.
When you take omega-3 in the evening, it can help reduce inflammation and improve your sleep quality. This is because the fatty acids in fish oils work similarly to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling.
Another reason you might want to consider taking omega-3 in the evening is that it can help you fall asleep faster. Studies show that consuming omega-3s before bed can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and can also reduce your waking heart rate.
In addition to the benefits listed above, omega-3 fish oil can also improve your mood and cognitive function. Those who take omega-3 fish oil regularly report feeling healthier, more alert, and happier overall. And in the long run, this can lead to better productivity and a higher quality of life.
If you’re considering starting to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements, make sure you find a high-quality product that has been third-party tested for contaminants like mercury, PCBs, and dioxins. In addition, look for a supplement that contains both EPA and DHA as opposed to just one or the other.
Regardless of when you decide to take your fish oil, the important thing is that you stick with it on a daily basis. This way, you can start to see the most significant benefits. After a few weeks of taking omega-3, you should begin to notice changes such as improved skin and hair health, increased relaxation and quality of sleep, and a more balanced diet.
The latest research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can help you sleep better. One study found that children with adequate omega-3 intakes had a longer sleep duration and fewer wakeups during the night compared to those with low omega-3 levels (1). Several other studies also show that omega-3 fatty acids can improve sleep quality (2). The reason might be that these fatty acids can reduce the production of the stress hormone norepinephrine, which raises your blood pressure and causes you to wake up during the night (3).
Another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is that they can boost melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep (4). A new study from Oxford University (5) found that children who took daily doses of omega-3 pills slept longer and had a more restful sleep pattern than those who didn’t take the omega-3 supplements. In addition, these kids were more energetic during the day.
While the results of this study are very promising, the researchers did not analyze the impact of the time of day on the benefits. Nevertheless, the findings are a reminder that it is important to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids to meet your needs. The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines. Alternatively, you can also consider taking omega-3 supplements that contain DHA and EPA derived from fish oil or algae.
If you do decide to take fish oil supplements, make sure that they come in the triglyceride form, which is easier to absorb. You can also look for supplements that are third-party tested and GMO-free. One good option is the Dr. Tobias fish oil, which is extracted from wild-caught fish in a facility that follows ethical and sustainable practices. The fish is then molecularly distilled and the resulting product has been tested for heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs. The omega-3 is then encapsulated in enteric coated capsules, which helps prevent them from being broken down by stomach acid and from causing fishy burps. These capsules are also available in a lemon flavor.
If you suffer from arthritis or joint pain, taking your omega-3 supplement at night may help ease the discomfort. One French study found that NSAIDs were most effective when consumed four to eight hours before the peak pain started. Since fish oil supplements also follow a similar biochemical pathway, they may be most helpful when taken in the evening.
Taking your fish oil at bedtime can also help prevent some of the most common side effects that come with taking omega-3s, including the dreaded “fishy breath” and acid reflux. Because these symptoms typically worsen while lying down, it’s best to take omega-3s at bedtime if you suffer from them.
A few studies have linked omega-3 intake, especially EPA and DHA omega-3s (which come from fish or algae), with improved sleep quality. For example, a pilot study found that children who took a DHA omega-3 supplement for a few months slept nearly an hour longer each night with fewer wakeups than those who took placebos. Another study found that omega-3 consumption was associated with increased melatonin levels, which are key to a healthy sleep cycle.
Although animal sources of EPA and DHA omega-3s are preferable, many people can’t get enough fatty fish in their diet. To fill the gap, consider a plant-based source of omega-3s, such as walnuts, which are high in ALA and also contain magnesium (another sleep-boosting mineral). You can sprinkle them on a salad or add them to your trail mix for a delicious snack before bed.
Regardless of when you choose to take your omega-3s, remember that the most important thing is to make them part of your daily routine. A regular, consistent intake is crucial to getting the maximum benefits from this longevity-boosting polyunsaturated fat. And while you’re at it, try to incorporate some of the other foods that are rich in omega-3s — such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines. The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association recommend consuming two servings of fatty fish per week.