EPA Background and Benefits
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is also known as icosapentaenoic acid and timnodonic acid. Its chemical structure is 20:5(n-3), which indicates that an EPA molecule is a chain of 20 carbon atoms with 5 double bonds. The first double bond is on the third carbon atom from the omega end.
The most significant dietary source of EPA is fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, menhaden, salmon and sardines. These fish don’t biosynthesize EPA, which is actually produced by plankton that the fish eat. EPA then becomes more concentrated in fish the higher up the food chain they are. Microalgae are the primary plant source of EPA in humans, and they are also the most important commercial source of EPA. Humans can biosynthesize EPA from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), although this process is much less efficient than simply absorbing it from food.
EPA is a precursor for several substances that are important in human nutrition, especially the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Additional substances that require EPA include leukotriene-5, thromboxane-3 and prostaglandin-3, which affect the aggregation of platelets in the blood. EPA also has direct biochemical uses, many of which involve joint conditions. It may also be able to support against low moods.
Uses of EPA
Many people take EPA to support good heart health. Additional uses of EPA include support for joint health, weight management and child development.
Heart health support
Regular intake of EPA may provide a variety of cardiovascular benefits, especially the support of arterial wall elasticity. EPA may also maintain healthy circulation, heart function and blood clotting.
The support of joint health is a common reason to take EPA. It may be helpful for managing discomfort, tenderness and morning stiffness of the joints.
Support for development
EPA may be useful in the mental development of children, since EPA is an essential component of brain cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids containing EPA may be useful for burning excess fat before it gets stored.
Signs You May Need EPA
An EPA deficiency can cause many specific symptoms due to the large number of functions it performs. The most common general signs that you may need EPA include chronic pain, joint discomfort and fatigue, especially when they don’t have an obvious cause. A compromised immune system is also a sign that you may need EPA. Specific signs of an EPA deficiency often include hair loss, dry skin, eczema, poor circulation and mood swings.
Other Ingredients That May Be Of Interest
DHA - Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is primarily found in the brain, especially the cerebral cortex. The body is able to easily convert DHA to EPA. However, EPA is not able to be converted to DHA in the body.
DPA - Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is similar to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and is primarily found in fatty fish. DPA supplements are often used to maintain healthy blood function.