Supplements – Essential Fatty Acids


In this leaflet we review a range of common supplements that people might come across when trying to manage M.E. We tell you what do they do, provide relevant research evidence for their effectiveness, and determine if they are safe.


Supplements containing essential fatty acids (EFAs), in particular fish oil supplements with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), have become extremely popular as an addition to a healthy diet – more so perhaps when a person is unwell and unable to eat properly.

But what do they do? Is there any evidence that they work in M.E.? And are they safe?

Topics discussed in this leaflet, also include:

  • What are essential fatty acids (EFAs)?
  • What do EFAs do in the body?
  • Why might EFAs be beneficial in M.E.?
  • Research evidence for use in M.E.
  • Contra-indications
  • Side-effects
  • Commercial supplements
  • What about eating lots of oily fish instead?
  • EPA, Fish Oil & Evening Primrose Oil

Telephone Helpline

The ME Association telephone helpline – ME Connect – is available every day of the year, during the hours of 10am-12noon, 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm. Please phone: 0344 576 5326 if you have any questions or would simply like to talk to someone who is there to listen.

Please note this leaflet is a download. You can read it on-screen and save to your computer, phone or other device and can attach it to any email you might need to send. But you will need access to a printer if you wish it printed.


0344 576 5326

Available every day of the week between these times: 10am - 12noon, 2pm - 4pm and 7pm - 9pm.

Calls cost the same as other standard landline numbers (starting 01 or 02). If you have a call package for your landline or mobile phone then calls will normally come out of your inclusive minutes.