Learn More About EPA and DHA

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Heart health

What Are EPA and DHA?

EPA and DHA belong to a group of fatty acids known as omega-3's. Did you know that your body requires fats for proper health, just as it needs water or protein? In particular, a polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 is essential. EPA and DHA can be thought of as the heavy hitters on the omega-3 team. These two forms of omega-3 are thought to be responsible for many, if not all, of the benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids continue to be recognized as a nutritional powerhouse following a number of studies and discoveries in the closing decades of the twentieth century. Some scientists and doctors contend that omega-3 is the single most crucial supplement that we can take. Its currently recognized benefits are numerous and many more are being added as we speak.

What Are Food Sources Of Omega-3/EPA and DHA?

The primary omega-3 is alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which can be found in plant foods such as leafy green vegetables, walnuts, chia seed and flax seed. Although the human body cannot use ALA directly, it does convert it to more biologically active forms, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA then go on to perform a number of essential functions in the body. EPA and DHA can be found in animal flesh, especially cold water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines.

These two heavy hitters are often recognized in the supplement called fish oil. While many people are disgusted at the idea of swallowing fish oil, it should be known that many advances in capsule technology take away nearly all of the fishy odor and smell. Some manufacturers even add essential oils to their formulation to completely eradicate any fishy aftertaste and odor, such as Barlean's.

Our modern diets tend to be very low in omega-3 fatty acids, due to agricultural changes and in the way foods are processed. Some authorities claim that Americans consume only one-sixth the amount of omega-3 that we used to eat in the nineteenth century. If true, this is an unmitigated disaster. It should be noted that EPA and DHA (fish oil) have been the subject of a much greater number of studies than ALA (plant source omega-3), and appear to be nutritionally more useful than ALA. EPA and DHA are thought to be nutritionally more useful, because they are already in their converted and bioavailable form.

What Are Some Possible Benefits of Omega-3/EPA and DHA?

On the most basic level, omega-3 fatty acids help regulate cell membrane permeability. The cell membrane controls not only the flexibility of the cell (a red blood cell too stiff and brittle to haul oxygen throughout the body) but also determines what enters and leaves the cell. If cell membrane permeability is poor, cellular health suffers, and cellular processes take longer than necessary. Let's explore the other benefits of omega-3.

Several studies sponsored by the Office of Dietary Supplements, performed in 2004, found that omega-3 reduced joint tenderness in arthritic patients and lowered their need for powerful corticosteroid drugs. It's interresting to reflect on past anecdotal accounts concerning cod liver oil, an excellent source of EPA and DHA. It first became commercially available in Europe in the 18th century. Since that time it developed a folk reputation as being useful for various forms of joint inflammation and pain, especially rheumatism. Now we have scientific evidence to back up its miraculous abilities.

Aside from its benefits to arthritis sufferers, most scientists now concur that a reasonably high intake of omega-3 fatty acids offers significant protection against this country’s leading cause of death, cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that each week we eat two servings of oily, cold-water fish, such as mackerel or salmon, so as to obtain our omega-3 in the especially beneficial EPA and DHA forms.

When is the last time you can honestly say you had two servings of fish in one week, much less six months. The Food and Drug Administration, an organization traditionally hostile to nutritional supplements, has approved a qualified health claim for omega-3 fatty acids, since they appear to prevent coronary artery disease. The heart-protective properties of omega-3 apparently stem from its ability to do the following:

* Lower Cholesterol
* Increase Cell Wall Permeability
* Lower Triglycerides
* Lower (To A Modest Degree) Blood Pressure
* Act As A Blood Thinner, Reducing the Workload of the Heart
* Reduce Levels Of C-Reactive Protein, A Marker For Dangerous Inflammation

Omega-3 fatty acids comprise about 20% of human brain tissue, and seem to be intimately linked to the proper functioning of the human nervous system. Studies at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere suggest the intriguing possibility that an increased intake of omega-3 may help to optimize, or at least improve, certain aspects of brain function, including:

* Bipolar Disorder
* Depression
* Attention Deficit Disorder And Impulsivity
* Schizophrenia
* Increase Mental Flexibility

How Can EPA and DHA Be Taken?

EPA and DHA can be taken in the readily available fish oil form. There are even new forms of technology being developed that will separate EPA and DHA from fish oil and create an odorless, tasteless substance. Most people usually take fish oil in softgel form, preferably as a pharmaceutical-grade, mercury-free supplement. Some take it as liquid fish oil, especially the traditional cod liver form, which has the additional advantage of being rich in vitamins A and D. For general good health people usually consume one to three capsules per day, with meals. If you are disgusted at the sight and smell of fish, consider using Barlean's fish oil supplements that have added orange and rosemary oil to eliminate fishy odor and taste.

Is Omega-3/EPA and DHA Safe?

For the great majority of people, yes, although those people on the prescription blood thinner coumadin (AKA Warfarin) must consult with their doctor before using flax oil or fish oil supplements. Pregnant women and nursing mothers considering the use of omega-3 should, of course, do likewise.

And remember—you can get the best EPA and DHA supplements at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References:
http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/FactSheets/Omega3FattyAcidsandHealth.asp
http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/reprint/6/8/2530/ http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01115.html http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/88/2/523/ http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/65/5/1645S/ http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/94/9/2337 http://www.modernmedicine.com/modernmedicine/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=505982 http://www.oilofpisces.com/bloodcoagulation.html http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/84/6/1308 http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/84/1/44

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