Omega-3 Fatty Acids – WHAT is EPA

Written by OmegaXL on May 14, 2014

EPA is the acronym for the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid.Although certain scientific studies show that it’s close cousin docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is more important for health than EPA, studies also show that to get the full benefits of Omega 3 Fatty acids, you need an intake of both.
In other words, when you look for EPA fish oil make sure it also has DHA in it, and actually a higher level of DHA than EPA.In fact, the human brain is made up of approximately 60% fat and about half of that fat is DHA!  Clearly, even though fish oil EPA is important, DHA is crucial as well.
This is why these two omega 3-fatty acids are believed to play such a significant role in conditions related to mental health.
While the majority of DHA and EPA omega-3 fats come from fish, there are actually plant and vegetable sources for Omega 3 fatty acids. One of the most common is flaxseed.
However, the downside is that the omega-3s form plants, known as alpha-linolenic (ALA), need to be converted by the body to DHA and EPA. This conversion is not very efficient, nor the best way to get your DHA and EPA, especially if you have impaired health or are elderly. EPA and DHA fish oil are, therefore, the best sources because you are getting these Omega 3 fatty acids directly.
While DHA seems to have it all over EPA, there is one area where EPA shines. One of EPA’s strengths is its ability to regulate levels of the Eicosanoid hormones that control inflammation and pain.  Reducing inflammation can reduce pain and improve joint conditions related to age or injury. So, while DHA may get the spotlight as far as omega-3s are concerned, EPA is no slouch.  Clearly, both DHA and EPA are important for good health!