EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA for docosahexaenoic acid. These essential fatty acids belong to the group of omega-3 fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated fatty acids, with an unsaturated bond in the n-3 position, the third bond from the methyl end. Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements have become quite popular these days due to their numerous health benefits.
These acids are highly unsaturated, as they contain 5 to 6 double bonds in their long structural chains. They play a vital role in several important functions of our body. The primary source of these unsaturated fatty acids is fish oil. The oil extracted from cold water fish like salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies is rich in both the omega-3 essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are also present in some algae and planktons.
EPA and DHA have several health benefits. These include:
DHA is of primary importance to brain health, as it is one of the building blocks of the brain. About 60% of the brain is made up of fatty acids, out of which 8% is DHA. It helps in the fetal brain and eye development. EPA also has a considerable role to play in the health of the brain. It is considered as one of the most essential nutrients required for brain health. DHA and EPA supplements are often recommended for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and infants. DHA and EPA protect against mental abnormalities like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. These essential fatty acids also help improve the behavior and promoting clear thinking.
Their benefits are not limited only to the brain health, but these also promote cardiovascular health. They effectively reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. They promote the production of prostaglandins that regulate dilation of blood vessels, and lower blood pressure, thus preventing heart diseases. The consumption of fish oil, containing these two essential fatty acids, lowers the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Furthermore, they can lower the level of triglycerides in the blood, thereby preventing conditions like atherosclerosis, which is a result of clogged arteries.
Studies indicate that fish oil containing these essential fatty acids, can help in reducing the symptoms and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Their anti-inflammatory properties, help in reducing pain, tenderness, and morning stiffness of joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
DHA and EPA that are found in fish oil are known to have anticancer properties. Studies indicate that they can prevent or reduce tumor growth, which can help prevent certain types of cancers, including breast, prostate, testicular, and ovarian cancer. These supplements may also help improve appetite and retain muscle mass in cancer patients.
EPA DHA benefits for healthy skin are known to all. Their anti-inflammatory properties help prevent various skin ailments. Moreover, they reduce the damage caused due to overexposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
These essential fatty acids are also known to enhance the function of the immune system, which in turn can protect us from various infections and diseases.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.