Life-Expectancy Impact of Fish Oil
April 2023 Issue

Life-Expectancy Impact of Fish Oil

Higher omega-3 levels correlate with greater human longevity. Flavored, chewable, fish oil gummies make it easy to obtain.

By Michael Downey.

Readers of Life Extension Magazine® seek validated methods to extend their healthy lifespans.

Some experiment with approaches shown in animal models to confer benefits…but lack conclusive human data.

Most know about the heart health benefits of fish oil.

Overlooked is compelling evidence showing that higher levels of omega-3s in humans correlate with longer life.

This article summarizes research demonstrating multi-year overall longevity outcomes based on omega-3 blood levels.

Beyond Heart Health

Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that primarily include EPA ( eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA ( docosahexaenoic acid).

Studies support higher intake of omega-3s for the prevention and management of cardiovascular conditions .1-8

Regular omega-3 intake can lower risk of heart attack and stroke and reduce mortality from heart disease.5,7-10

The pharmaceutical industry has even created fish oil-derived drugs for reducing cardiovascular risks. These drugs, such as Lovaza®, and Vascepa®, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce risk of cardiovascular events.11,12

Fish Consumption and Lifespan

A decade ago, a 16-year study concluded that a fish-rich diet significantly predicts longevity.

Data on 2,692 senior adults showed that subjects with high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acidshad:13

  • 2.2 years of longer lifespan,
  • 27% decrease in overall mortality risk, and
  • 35% decrease in heart disease mortality risk.

The omega-3 DHA was associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of <a=" rotocols="" heart-circulatory="" atherosclerosis-and-cardiovascular-disease"="">coronary heart disease death and substantially reduced mortality risk from arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).13</a=">


In 2021, a massive study evaluated 191,558 individuals’ data and concluded that weekly intake of 175 grams (two servings) of oily fish was associated with:14

  • Lower risk of death among patients with previous cardiovascular disease,
  • Lower risk of death from major cardiovascular disease, and
  • Lower risk of sudden cardiac death.

Longevity Benefits for High-Risk Patients

These and other findings prompted studies on intake of fish oil.

A prospective study assessed fish oil intake and mortality among people with cardiometabolic multimorbidity. 15 This refers to having at least two of the chronic diseases, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease, which translates to exponentially higher mortality risk.16

Fish oil use by these patients was associated with a 17% lower risk of all-cause mortality. Cardiovascular disease mortality risk was also reduced.

Taking fish oil at age 45 was associated with adding 1.66 years to life expectancy. 15

Longevity Benefits in the General Population

A second study using the UK Biobank cohort examined a whopping 502,536 volunteers aged 40-69 who live in the United Kingdom.10

Analysis showed that regular fish oil intake was associated with significantly reduced:

  • All-cause mortality,
  • Cardiovascular disease mortality,
  • Heart attack incidence, and
  • Cardiovascular events.

These associations were independent of numerous risk factors, including sex, age, ethnicity, body mass index, produce consumption, smoking, alcohol use, exercise, and various comorbidities.

Amazingly, even cold-water fish consumption didn’t change the benefits found for fish oil supplements to these outcomes. 10

Another, earlier study looked at associations between higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and mortality, using data from the Framingham Heart Study, one of the world’s longest-running human studies.17

Those with the highest omega-3 blood levels, compared to the lowest, had an astonishing 34% lower risk of death from any cause. 17

Lifespan Increase in Laboratory Model

Beyond the human lifespan studies discussed so far, laboratory researchers are discovering even greater longevity effects of omega-3s.

For over a century, researchers have used the fruit fly to study aging biology.18 This fly has a short lifespan, so that effects can be observed in a fairly short amount of time, plus its genome is 60% identical to humans.19

Scientists used the fruit fly in a study of the lifespan effects of omega-3 intake. Adding EPA and DHA to the flies’ diets increased their median lifespan by 14.6%.20


A New Form of Longevity-Promoting Fish Oil

  • The heart benefits of fish oil are well-established, and recent studies provide compelling evidence of fish oil’s potent longevity effects.
  • Human data reveal that higher intake of fish or fish oil may add years to lifespan.
  • An animal model showed that EPA and DHA supplementation increased lifespan by 14.6%. That same percentage applied to humans would mean 11.5 years additional survival.
  • One recent study estimates that a dietary lack of omega-3 oil may shorten lifespan as much as smoking.
  • Innovative technology has allowed scientists to pack high amounts of fish oil into sugar-free, chewableforms for an alternative way to promote longer life.

If the average human lifespan were extended by a similar percentage, that would be an additional 11.5 years of life. 21

This study shows that in a widely studied model organism, fish oil supplementation resulted in a marked longevity increase. This type of controlled intervention data in a time-tested biological model adds weight to the case, based on population data, for an enhancement of longevity from fish oil supplements.


Recent data offer strong indications that the benefits of higher fish oil and omega-3 fatty acid intake go beyond improving longevity and heart health.


  • High omega-3 intake in midlife was found to maintain brain white matter integrity in old age.26
  • Omega-3 lowered postpartum symptoms of depression compared to placebo.27
  • Omega-3 significantly improved depression symptoms in pregnant and post-partum women.28

Insulin Resistance

  • Omega-3 supplementation decreased fasting blood glucose as well as insulin resistance, compared to placebo.29
  • Fish oil or oily fish intake was associated with a lower risk of type II diabetes.30


  • Omega-3 intake promoted muscle mass31 and strength32 in older adults.
  • There is emerging evidence for beneficial effects of omega-3 fats in this muscle-wasting disease.33

A Fish Oil-Longevity Explanation

One researcher has investigated possible explanations for this fish oil-longevity association by examining the role of bioactive lipids—a group that includes EPA and DHA—in age-related disease. 22

This review noted that the body derives several healthy fats, including EPA and DHA, from dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid found most abundantly in plant foods.

Alpha-linolenic acid is converted to EPA/DHA in the body by the action of enzymes known as desaturases.22

Desaturase activity declines with age. As a result, aging cells can become deficient in various bioactive lipids, including EPA and DHA, potentially contributing to aging and metabolic abnormalities.

This scientist concluded that direct oral intake of bioactive lipids such as EPA and DHA may aid "in the prevention, postponing, or even reversing of some of the aspects of aging."22,23

Low Fish Oil Intake Shortens Life Similar to Smoking

How much impact might fish oil have on lifespan?

A recent study analyzed Framingham Heart Study data for individuals in their mid-sixties and concluded that:24

  • Smoking was associated with a life expectancy reduction of 4.73 years, while
  • The lowest body levels of omega 3, compared to the highest, were associated with a life expectancy reductionof 4.74 years.

In other words, for people in their 60s, low levels of omega-3s are as much of a risk for early mortality as smoking, based on these data.

Alternative to Softgels

Seeking ways to improve compliance with fish oil intake recommendations, Norwegian scientists spent 10 yearsdeveloping a new option for those who don’t like softgels or capsules.

They created a water and protein matrix containing tiny droplets of fish oil, allowing for a higher nutrient load in a smaller space. 25 The result is a "gummy bite" that is small, tasty and sugar-free.

The smaller droplets also provide more surface area, enhancing breakdown by digestive enzymes in the body.25

For those who don’t like to swallow capsules, this innovative technology packs high-dose fish oil into gummy bites.


Scientists are still exploring how higher fish oil intake may lead to greater longevity. Emerging research provides a glimpse into at least some of the possible connections:

  • A healthy level of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce and help resolve chronic inflammation.34-37 This helps lower the risk for most age-related—and potentially life-shortening—chronic diseases, including cancer, obesity, diabetes, and dementia.
  • A study of patients with chronic kidney disease found that omega-3 intake resulted in longer telomeres within white blood cells. Telomeres are the longevity-associated chromosomal "clocks" that shorten as we age.38
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are precursors of signaling compounds known as endocannabinoids.39 The endocannabinoid system is involved in regulation of appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.40
  • Blood levels of DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be significantly correlated, in middle-aged and elderly women, with diversity in the gut microbiome, the intestinal community of microbes.41Greater diversity is nearly always associated with greater disease resistance and better health.


Higher fish oil intake has long been shown to prevent and manage cardiovascular conditions.

Recent evidence links higher fish or fish oil intake, and higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, with increased longevity as well.

The highest omega-3 blood levels were linked to a 34% lower risk of death from any cause.

Innovative technology has been used to produce a tasty, sugar-free, tropical fruit-flavored, gummy-bite form of fish oil for those who don’t like swallowing softgels.


The best way to know if you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is to test your blood levels. The Omega-3 Index is a finger-stick blood test that can measure the percentage of omega-3 fatty acids in your red blood cells.

Ideally, your Omega-3 Index score should be greater than 6.8%. The typical Japanese Omega-3 Index score is above8.0%, which may help account in part for the five-year longer life expectancy in Japan compared to the United States.24

To order the at-home Omega-3 Index test, call 1-800-544-4440 or visit

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


  1. Koh KK, Quon MJ, Shin KC, et al. Significant differential effects of omega-3 fatty acids and fenofibrate in patients with hypertriglyceridemia. Atherosclerosis. 2012 Feb;220(2):537-44.
  2. Kumar S, Sutherland F, Teh AW, et al. Effects of chronic omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on human pulmonary vein and left atrial electrophysiology in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Am J Cardiol. 2011 Aug 15;108(4):531-5.
  3. Moertl D, Hammer A, Steiner S, et al. Dose-dependent effects of omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids on systolic left ventricular function, endothelial function, and markers of inflammation in chronic heart failure of nonischemic origin: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 3-arm study. Am Heart J. 2011 May;161(5):915.e1-9.
  4. Nodari S, Triggiani M, Campia U, et al. n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the prevention of atrial fibrillation recurrences after electrical cardioversion: a prospective, randomized study. Circulation. 2011 Sep 6;124(10):1100-6.
  5. Svensson M, Schmidt EB, Jørgensen KA, et al. N-3 fatty acids as secondary prevention against cardiovascular events in patients who undergo chronic hemodialysis: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention trial. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Jul;1(4):780-6.
  6. Takaki A, Umemoto S, Ono K, et al. Add-on therapy of EPA reduces oxidative stress and inhibits the progression of aortic stiffness in patients with coronary artery disease and statin therapy: a randomized controlled study. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2011;18(10):857-66.
  7. Harris WS, Del Gobbo L, Tintle NL. The Omega-3 Index and relative risk for coronary heart disease mortality: Estimation from 10 cohort studies. Atherosclerosis. 2017 Jul;262:51-4.
  8. Hu Y, Hu FB, Manson JE. Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Meta-Analysis of 13 Randomized Controlled Trials Involving 127 477 Participants. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Oct;8(19):e013543.
  9. Harris WS, Luo J, Pottala JV, et al. Red blood cell polyunsaturated fatty acids and mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. J Clin Lipidol. 2017 Jan-Feb;11(1):250-9.e5.
  10. Li Z-H, Zhong W-F, Liu S, et al. Associations of habitual fish oil supplementation with cardiovascular outcomes and all cause mortality: evidence from a large population based cohort study. BMJ. 2020;368:m456.
  11. Ito MK. A Comparative Overview of Prescription Omega-3 Fatty Acid Products. P t. 2015 Dec;40(12):826-57.
  12. Available at: Accessed January, 5, 2023.
  13. Mozaffarian D, Lemaitre RN, King IB, et al. Plasma phospholipid long-chain w-3 fatty acids and total and cause-specific mortality in older adults: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Apr 2;158(7):515-25.
  14. Mohan D, Mente A, Dehghan M, et al. Associations of Fish Consumption With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality Among Individuals With or Without Vascular Disease From 58 Countries. JAMA Intern Med. 2021 May 1;181(5):631-49.
  15. Ma T, He L, Luo Y, et al. Use of fish oil and mortality of patients with cardiometabolic multimorbidity: A prospective study of UK biobank. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2022 Dec;32(12):2751-9.
  16. Raghavan S, Vassy JL, Ho YL, et al. Diabetes Mellitus–Related AllCause and Cardiovascular Mortality in a National Cohort of Adults. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2019;8(4):e011295.
  17. Harris WS, Tintle NL, Etherton MR, et al. Erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 fatty acid levels are inversely associated with mortality and with incident cardiovascular disease: The Framingham Heart Study. J Clin Lipidol.2018 May-Jun;12(3):718-27.e6.
  18. Stephenson R, Metcalfe NH. Drosophila melanogaster: a fly through its history and current use. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2013;43(1):70-5.
  19. Mirzoyan Z, Sollazzo M, Allocca M, et al. Drosophila melanogaster: A Model Organism to Study Cancer. Frontiers in Genetics. 2019 2019-March-01;10.
  20. Champigny CM, Cormier RPJ, Simard CJ, et al. Omega-3 Monoacylglyceride Effects on Longevity, Mitochondrial Metabolism and Oxidative Stress: Insights from Drosophila melanogaster. Mar Drugs. 2018 Nov 16;16(11).
  21. Available at: Accessed December, 22, 2022.
  22. Das UN. "Cell Membrane Theory of Senescence" and the Role of Bioactive Lipids in Aging, and Aging Associated Diseases and Their Therapeutic Implications. Biomolecules. 2021 Feb 8;11(2).
  23. Naghshi S, Aune D, Beyene J, et al. Dietary intake and biomarkers of alpha linolenic acid and risk of all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. BMJ. 2021;375:n2213.
  24. McBurney MI, Tintle NL, Vasan RS, et al. Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Oct 4;114(4):1447-54.
  25. Haug I, Sagmo L, Zeiss D, et al. Bioavailability of EPA and DHA delivered by gelled emulsions and soft gel capsules. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 2011 02/01;113:137-45.
  26. Tsiknia AA, Bergstrom J, Reas ET. Midlife omega-3 fatty acid intake predicts later life white matter microstructure in an age- and APOE-dependent manner. Cerebral Cortex. 2022.
  27. Nishi D, Su KP, Usuda K, et al. Plasma estradiol levels and antidepressant effects of omega-3 fatty acids in pregnant women. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Mar;85:29-34.
  28. Zhang MM, Zou Y, Li SM, et al. The efficacy and safety of omega-3 fatty acids on depressive symptoms in perinatal women: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Transl Psychiatry. 2020 Jun 17;10(1):193.
  29. Delpino FM, Figueiredo LM, da Silva BGC, et al. Omega-3 supplementation and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022;62(16):4435-48.
  30. Chen GC, Arthur R, Qin LQ, et al. Association of Oily and Nonoily Fish Consumption and Fish Oil Supplements With Incident Type 2 Diabetes: A Large Population-Based Prospective Study. Diabetes Care. 2021 Mar;44(3):672-80.
  31. Huang YH, Chiu WC, Hsu YP, et al. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Muscle Mass, Muscle Strength and Muscle Performance among the Elderly: A Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 4;12(12).
  32. Cornish SM, Cordingley DM, Shaw KA, et al. Effects of Omega-3 Supplementation Alone and Combined with Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients.2022 May 26;14(11).
  33. Dupont J, Dedeyne L, Dalle S, et al. The role of omega-3 in the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2019 Jun;31(6):825-36.
  34. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.
  35. Simopoulos AP. An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 2;8(3):128.
  36. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Dec;21(6):495-505.
  37. Calder PC. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochem Soc Trans. 2017 Oct 15;45(5):1105-15.
  38. A, O’Callaghan N, Burke V, et al. n-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 19;8(3):175.
  39. Dyall SC. Interplay Between n-3 and n-6 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and the Endocannabinoid System in Brain Protection and Repair. Lipids. 2017 Nov;52(11):885-900.
  40. Manzanares J, Julian M, Carrascosa A. Role of the cannabinoid system in pain control and therapeutic implications for the management of acute and chronic pain episodes. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2006 Jul;4(3):239-57.
  41. Menni C, Zierer J, Pallister T, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids correlate with gut microbiome diversity and production of N-carbamylglutamate in middle aged and elderly women. Scientific Reports. 2017 12/01;7.