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Omega-3 fatty acids: a comprehensive review of their role in health and disease
  1. B M Yashodhara1,
  2. S Umakanth1,
  3. J M Pappachan1,
  4. S K Bhat2,
  5. R Kamath3,
  6. B H Choo1
  1. 1
    Department of Medicine, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Melaka, Malaysia
  2. 2
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Melaka, Malaysia
  3. 3
    Department of Community Medicine, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Melaka, Malaysia
  1. Dr J M Pappachan, Department of Medicine, Melaka Manipal Medical College, 75150, Melaka, Malaysia; drpappachan{at}


Omega-3 fatty acids (ω-3 FAs) are essential fatty acids with diverse biological effects in human health and disease. Reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is a well-established benefit of their intake. Dietary supplementation may also benefit patients with dyslipidaemia, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, obesity, inflammatory diseases, neurological/ neuropsychiatric disorders and eye diseases. Consumption of ω-3 FAs during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth and improves intellectual development of the fetus. Fish, fish oils and some vegetable oils are rich sources of ω-3 FAs. According to the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition guidelines (2004), a healthy adult should consume a minimum of two portions of fish a week to obtain the health benefit. This review outlines the health implications, dietary sources, deficiency states and recommended allowances of ω-3 FAs in relation to human nutrition.

  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • essential fatty acids
  • fish consumption
  • cardiovascular benefits
  • lifestyle diseases

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  • Competing interests: None.