Omega 3 Fish Oil EPA and DHA Explained
Copyright 2005 David McEvoy
There is no doubt that Omega 3 fish oil can not only help
your heart and joints, but your brain too. Most people are
aware of these benefits, but aren't sure whether the
benefits of Omega 3 fish oil apply across the board for all
types of Omega 3 fish oil s. There are now many different
brands available on the world market, with sellers aiming
to capitalize on the Omega 3 fish oil 'boom'. This makes
for such a wide range of products and so many claims that
it is hard for the consumer to sift fact from fiction.
Omega 3 fish oil contains two active ingredients: EPA
(Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid).
Most fish oils on the market contain both these ingredients
in various quantities - the argument that has arisen
concerns which of these essential nutrients you need, and
which is better than the other.
The simple answer to this is that both are vital nutrients,
but they are each important at different stages of life; it
is becoming clear in the scientific community that they
both have different functions.
DHA is now thought to constitute the 'building blocks' of
the brain, forming about 8% of the brain by weight - this
is why it is important for pregnant mothers to ensure an
adequate supply throughout pregnancy.
DHA is also added to some infant milk formulas by some
leading manufacturers, as an infant requires a lot of DHA
in the first two years of life to support the growth of the
EPA however is different; this essential nutrient is now
considered by some leading doctors and professors in the UK
as being the single most vital nutrient in the functioning
of the brain and nerve stimulation.
This was highlighted by the release of a very high profile
book by a leading psychiatric professor, who is using a
very strong form of ethyl EPA to help treat patients of his
who suffer from depression and schizophrenia. Moreover, the
ethyl EPA that the professor is using has had the DHA
removed. In the book he explains that Ethyl EPA fish oil is
not as potent, and does not give the same therapeutic
effects as when the DHA is present.
According to the professor, this is backed up by two
randomized controlled trials at the University of Baylor
and Sheffield, where depressed people who were given DHA
only fared slightly worse than the placebo-controlled group.
So what happens if the body becomes deficient of DHA ? The
professor goes on to describe that the body can convert EPA
into DHA , as it is only two steps down the chain of
ecosanoids. This is a process the body can do relatively
easily. The body can also convert DHA into EPA , but our
bodies struggle to make this conversion and it is not a
very efficient process.
A good example of this would be with flaxseed oil, that is
high in the omega 3 parent fatty acid ALA (alphalinoic
acid); to obtain roughly 1 gram of EPA , you would have to
ingest 11 grams of flaxseed oil.
The simple truth is that you need both these essential
nutrients. The evidence is increasingly pointing towards
the two being important for various stages of life. DHA
when compared against EPA in treating depression is faring
no better than a placebo; however the DHA is important for
pregnant mothers and children from birth to two years.
Beyond that some leading doctors (Mercola, Stoll, Puri) are
leaning towards EPA being very beneficial for the daily
functioning of the brain
About the Author:
Dave McEvoy is an award winning personal trainer with over
20 years experience; he also runs a high quality health
supplement website. http://www.mind1st.co.uk
Anthony Kane, MD
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