Morgan Chamberlain

mbg Supplement Editor

By Morgan Chamberlain

mbg Supplement Editor

Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition.

woman drinking water in kitchen

Image by Elena Kharichkina / Stocksy

July 12, 2023


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3 ways omega-3s promote gut health

2021 scientific review titled Associations among Dietary Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, the Gut Microbiota, and Intestinal Immunity outlines the ways omega-3s can help modulate the gut microbiome and promote gut immunity.* 

Here are three of the most impactful ways these unique fats promote gut health:

1. Influence gut microbiota.

Our gut microbiota are made up of a diverse, complex community that’s affected by a myriad of nutrients and bioactives—including omega-3 fatty acids. It turns out omega-3s play a part in regulating both the diversity and abundance of gut microbiota (specifically, the beneficial bacteria).* 

In fact, higher concentrations of omega-3s in the blood are correlated with an elevated abundance of microbiota in the gut—and not just from diet.* A 2017 review1 published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that the gut microbiota of adults positively changed after taking omega-3 supplements.*

(Another reason to take high-quality fish oil every day, if you aren’t already!)


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2. Support gut function & immunity

Let’s talk about a crucial element of immune system defense: mucus. The optimal function of the gastrointestinal mucus system2 is integral to gut health and immunity, and omega-3s play a key role in helping promote mucus (aka mucosal) integrity.* 

These healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids help protect intestinal cells, support intestinal mucosal thickness, and promote proper barrier function of the intestinal mucosa, all of which are vital for immune function in the gut.*

In a 2019 preclinical animal study published in Food & Function, marine omega-3s EPA and DHA, specifically, were found to aid intestinal barrier function and integrity.* 

3. Bolster anti-inflammatory actions

Omega-3s have some seriously potent anti-inflammatory properties that help promote gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, joint, and whole-body health.*

In addition to modulating the production of anti-inflammatory compounds, omega-3s are known to modulate critical immune responses and combat pro-inflammatory pathways in the gut.*

Thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions, omega-3s also help combat oxidative stress in immune and intestinal cells to help support the body’s immune defenses and protect the gut.* Omega-3s truly take the term “healthy fat” to another level!


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The takeaway

Given their widespread benefits, it’s pretty obvious that omega-3s are vitally important to gut health and function—but the relationship goes the other way too.* 

Microorganisms in the GI tract are crucial for the biotransformation of fatty acids. In other words, a healthy gut is key for optimal absorption and metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids.

Consider pairing a high-potency, sustainably sourced fish oil supplement (like mbg’s omega-3 potency+) with a targeted, high-quality probiotic (like mbg’s probiotic+) to comprehensively support gut health, bolster intestinal barrier function, and elevate gut microbial abundance and diversity.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.