Strengthen the Immune System with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fat is essential for health and can strengthen the immune system. This is indeed the case for "good" fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Besides strengthening the immune system, what do omega-3 fatty acids do? They aid in weight loss and enhance cognitive performance. How you can meet your daily omega-3 fatty acids requirement and what you should consider when taking them, we reveal in this article.

Did you know that there are only estimates for the daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids?

The Omega-3 Working Group recommends that healthy individuals consume more than 0.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. People with cardiovascular diseases should consume at least one gram of EPA or DHA per day. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) assumes a daily requirement of 1.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.

How can these recommendations be so different? Prof. Dr. C. von Schacky from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich offers the following explanation in a publication: The vast variability in individual intake and the significant differences in the bioavailability of EPA and DHA make it practically impossible to define an effective dose. Thus, dosage recommendations from professional associations are only relevant for certain populations, not individuals.

It is also important not to lump all omega-3 fatty acids together. "That would basically be like trying to determine how much food I need per day. That is also not universally answerable and must be related to each individual and their life situation instead," elucidates Alexandra Schmidt, nutrition expert at MAYRLIFE. "Not all omega-3 fatty acids are the same. There are plant-based ones like alpha-linolenic acid, also called ALA, and animal omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA." EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA for docosahexaenoic acid. Both are abundant in algae and fish, especially in salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, and sardine. ALA, on the other hand, is present in high amounts in plant oils like flaxseed, walnut, hemp, and chia seed oil. The uniqueness of all omega-3 fatty acids is that humans need to consume them through their diet.

Yet, not all are essential. Alexandra Schmidt explains: "Technically, DHA and EPA are not essential fatty acids since the body can produce them in small percentages from ALA. However, meeting the needs for DHA and EPA through ALA is extremely difficult, necessitating regular intake through food."

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Countering Undersupply

The diet of many people today is very one-sided and acidic. TV dinners, snacks, and heavy traditional meals have a high macronutrient content, meaning a high density of carbohydrates, proteins, and saturated fatty acids. Micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and trace elements – are often at insufficient levels, or can no longer be adequately absorbed by the body nowadays. This may be due to an unbalanced or unhealthy diet, or continuous stress in everyday life. "It's little surprise that about 70 percent of the world's population does not get enough omega-3 fatty acids.

People in the Stone Age consumed ten times more omega-3 fatty acids than today's homo digitalis," explains Alexandra Schmidt. An undersupply of omega-3 fatty acids is virtually pre-programmed in today’s world. Athletes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people, and individuals with pre-existing conditions have a higher need for omega-3 fatty acids. They should pay particular attention to adequate intake of these fatty acids.


Omega-3 fatty acids support vital processes in the body, which can be divided into three areas: 

  • They support the central nervous system: Omega-3 fatty acids ensure unimpeded signal transmission, enhance memory performance, and promote mental health.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids strengthen the immune system: They have an anti-inflammatory effect. "While EPA prevents inflammatory overresponse, DHA ensures the complete healing of inflammatory processes," explains Alexandra Schmidt.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids promote heart and circulatory health: They improve the flow characteristics of blood, ensure a healthy heart rhythm and a strong heart, and lower LDL cholesterol. The latter is also known as "bad" cholesterol, since too much of it may clog blood vessels.

What to do, then, if you're not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your daily life? 

"Before reaching for supplements willy-nilly, it's important to be honest with yourself and reflect on your eating habits," advises Ines Holzer. To meet your daily omega-3 fatty acids requirement, it's recommended you eat wild-caught fish twice a week and choose high-quality omega-3 foods like flaxseed oil, chia seeds, camelina oil, hemp oil, and walnut oil for your oil selection. Flaxseed oil should be included in your diet daily since it has an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

The ratio should ideally be 5:1 in favor of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil has a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids of about 3:1, having the highest relative component of omega-3 fatty acids of all oils. "About two tablespoons of flaxseed oil per day are recommended, preferably as an addition to your morning muesli, in salads, in curd creams, or as a garnish on vegetables," recommends Ines Holzer. Walnuts and flaxseeds can also be added to muesli. The latter is best freshly ground, as this improves the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids into the body.

A simple blood test will determine the status of fatty acids in your body. "If it turns out you have a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, you should first rethink your eating habits, consciously eat according to an omega-3 fatty acids food list for at least two months, optimize your intake, and then check your status again before resorting to dietary supplements," advises Alexandra Schmidt. At MAYRLIFE, your fatty acid status is determined during a stay at the MAYRLIFE Medical Health Resort or at the day clinic in Vienna.

"During a therapy stay, we do this in order to tailor the guest's diet plan to their individual needs. This way, the guest receives only the nutrition necessary to enhance their individual health," says Alexandra Schmidt, further explaining the approach taken in daily practice at MAYRLIFE. In combination with an alkaline diet rich in antioxidants, inflammatory processes in the body can be effectively contained and even alleviated completely. This is also why omega-3 fatty acids have such a positive effect on the immune system: They contribute to a healthy gut flora, which in turn ensures strong defenses. 

  • “A high diversity is of crucial importance for healthy gut function and a strong immune system."
    Alexandra Schmidt
    qualified dietician and nutritional expert
    at MAYRLIFE Medical Health Resort

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Effect on Gut Flora and the Immune System

Omega-3 fatty acids are true multitaskers. On the one hand, they increase the permeability of cell walls. This allows nutrients to enter the cell more effectively, improving metabolism. For example, it has been shown that omega-3 fatty acids support the release of fat cells from fat stores and enhance fat burning. On the other hand – and this is still little known – omega-3 fatty acids also make a significant contribution to gut health by increasing the diversity of the gut flora. A study by the University of Nottingham, published in 2017, showed that omega-3 fatty acids in the gut promote bacteria that have an anti-inflammatory effect and can help with weight loss. It was found that omega-3 fatty acids in the gut stimulate bacterial strains to produce more N-Carbamylglutamate (NCG), a substance known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. When present at sufficient levels, it reduces inflammation in the gut. This, in turn, supports a healthy gut barrier and strengthens the immune defense functionality of the gut.

All-Round Health through Omega-3 Fatty Acids

"The gut is the origin of health or disease," says a Chinese proverb. MAYRLIFE is dedicated to strengthening your health holistically, with a focus on a healthy gut. Not only is the diet individually tailored to the guest, but all therapies and treatments are also designed to optimally promote health.

An important component of this is appropriate intake of omega-3 fatty acids. They not only improve the quality of our cells but also promote population of the gut with different bacterial strains. This, in turn, is crucial for the health of the gut flora and strong defenses within the gut. A miraculous circle that comes full circle, and that we can influence at any time with our daily decisions about what, when, and how much we eat. Take good care of yourself and make the right decisions – we are happy to support you in your efforts!

How is your gut health looking?

Have we awoken your curiosity about the state of your gut health, or do you simply want to do the right thing for your own personal health? Then get in touch - we’ll be happy to advise you!


  • Arbeitskreis Omega-3 e. V., Wieviel Omega-3-Fettsäuren braucht der Mensch? [How much omega-3 fatty acids do people need?], accessed 18.03.2022, 17:23
  • C. von Schacky, 7.10.2019, Verwirrung um die Wirkung von Omega-3-Fettsäuren [Confusion about the effects of omega-3 fatty acids], accessed 18.03.2022, 17:21
  • Constantini Lara et al., 7.12.2017, Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota, accessed 28.2.2022, 15:34
  • Göbel Sandra, 1.7.2020, Alpha-Linolensäure [Alpha-linolenic acid], accessed 28.2.2022, 15:36

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