How long will it take for me to feel the benefits of taking Omega 3 Fish Oil supplements?

August 2010, Xtend-Life Expert


One of the most common questions asked to any doctor specializing in integrated or functional medicine is like the one above or “How long will take to get the benefits?” Both are good questions.

One of the most common questions asked to any doctor specializing in integrated or functional medicine is like the one above or “How long will take to get the benefits?” Both are good questions.

Omega 3 fatty acids begin affecting the body almost immediately after taking them. Before I talk about those effects, I’ll review how your body digests fats in general and omega 3 fatty in specific.

Shortly after the supplement lands in your stomach, messages from the brain are already telling your digestive tract to prepare to digest some healthy fats. Lipases are released in the upper end of the small intestine to begin to break down the larger fat molecules.

Your gallbladder prepares to release bile into the upper part of your digestive tract in order to facilitate the process of converting the fats into micelles through a process called emulsification. In this form the fatty acids can be absorbed through the lymphatic system and then into the blood stream.

Once the fatty acids are in the bloodstream, they circulate throughout the body and are taken up by the tissues that need them. All this happens over the course of 30 minutes to several hours.

The first measurable effect can be found by sampling the blood, but it cannot necessarily be “felt” directly. Changes in blood levels of triglycerides and in levels of inflammation, as measured by highly sensitive C-Reactive Protein can be found within a few weeks.

Many people notice a rather immediate improvement in things like appetite and skin texture. We receive countless unsolicited testimonials stating just that… “my appetite has normalized” or “my skin feels softer” or “I’m sleeping better”.

Numerous large studies have concluded that you will receive substantial benefits from taking omega 3 fish oil supplements within a few weeks to several months.

For example, one study showed that within 3 months there was a dramatic reduction in death from heart attack, in another study death from all causes fell by 45 percent in those taking omega-3 fish oil supplements for 3.5 years.

It can take up to 18 months to change most of the fatty acids normally found in your cellular membranes throughout your body. We believe that many of the positive benefits of taking supplemental omega 3s are the result of this complete overhaul of your cellular membranes. We believe that this fact is especially pertinent to those suffering from arthritic conditions, long-term mood disorders, neurological conditions and immune system problems.

I have personally been prescribing my patients omega 3 fish oils as a daily supplement for the past 20 years. So when a patient asks how long they need to take these supplements I respond: “As long as you want to maximize your chance of being happy and healthy.”


  • “How or does Omega 3 Fish Oil supplementation help if one does NOT have a gall bladder any longer? Have been wondering about that since it seems that there are supplements that depend on the gall bladder producing bile. Thanks for considering this question. Beth”

    Beth - August 05 2010

  • “Hi Oliver, To answer your initial question, the body has various pH levels depending on what part of the body you are asking about. The stomach is acidic, as you likely know, whereas the small intestine is alkaline, to give you a simple example. Regarding alkaline water, there is no hard or fast answer to this. It certainly isn’t harmful to drink it, and there may be benefits, but nothing categorically proven. The important thing is to ensure you are drinking as pure water as possible, be that filtered, reverse osmosis, or alkaline. We actually have lots of links regarding drinking water on our site.”

    Xtend-Life Expert - August 11 2010

  • “Hi Does your body keep a constant PH. My friend has just bought a ioniser water machine and he only just drinks alkaline water,says it is a big health benefit and also most hospitals in Japan will only serve there patients alkaline water is there any credibility behind his thinking? Cheers Oliver”

    oliver - August 07 2010

  • “Dear Beth, The primary function of the gallbladder is to store bile; it doesnt actually produce it. A persons gallbladder is removed most often because of the presence of large gallstones that have blocked or increase the risk of blockage so that bile is unable to get from the liver, where it is produced and the small intestine, where it is needed. So an absent gallbladder in no way impinges upon your ability to utilize omega 3 fish oil supplements.”

    Xtend-Life Expert - August 09 2010

  • “Hi Kevin Its not detrimental at all. Taking enteric coated tablets 15 to 30 minutes before a meal will be fine. The only reason why we suggest that you avoid taking them with a meal is that there is less likely to be interference with the food enzymes in the upper intestinenot the stomach because the enteric coating protects the tablets from the acidic gastric juices.”

    Xtend-Life Expert - August 11 2010

  • “You recommend taking the enteric coated tablets on an empty stomach. Is there any detriment to taking it shortly (ie 15 minutes) before a meal. Will the body not absorb the nutrients effectively if taken with food in the stomach?”

    Kevin - August 10 2010

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