Which is better in fish oil... EPA or DHA?

January 2011, Warren Matthews


Hi Mr Matthews I have a quick question for you. I have recently read a story about Dr. Barry Sears (Zone Diet). He is claiming that EPA is more beneficial the DHA. I was curious on how he can make this statement and why.

This is a question that comes up from time to time, so I thought that I would share it with you here.

Kiko asks:

"Hi Mr Matthews I have a quick question for you. I have recently read a story about Dr. Barry Sears (Zone Diet). He is claiming that EPA is more beneficial the DHA. I was curious on how he can make this statement and why. This was an article I read no more than a month ago. My entire family uses the regular DHA/Fish oil and we are all very happy with it. I know that he sells fish oil high in EPA and I am assuming this is why he would say this. I was just curious about you opinion.

Thanks for a great product."

My Response:

Dr Sears started promoting the idea that EPA was better than DHA quite a few years ago.  Fish oil with high EPA is cheaper to produce than DHA and most of the research up until about 5 or 6 years ago was centred around EPA for that reason.

However over recent years more and more research has been done on DHA and the findings have substantiated what we believed eight years ago and that was DHA is biologically more effective than EPA.  But, DHA has one other important benefit over EPA.  DHA can be easily converted by the body to EPA as it is a more complex molecule and just needs to drop off some bonds to become EPA.

On the other hand it is very difficult for the body to convert EPA to DHA. If the body needs more EPA it can easily get it from DHA so that has always been our main rationale for going to the extra effort and focusing on DHA.

Also keep in mind that there is more to fish oil than just the Omega 3 content (DHA and EPA).  There are some other factors present that can help reduce inflammation. Science is still not sure what they are but we have demonstrated that when the fish oil is concentrated it loses something that is present in the natural fish oil. This is why we use a blend of both.


  • “Hi Warren, I am currently taking your Omega 3/QH Ultra and have just finished my first bottle. So far so good and given that I take statins, I get the benefit of Omega 3 and Ubiquinol in one hit; so I have no intention of changing. However, I notice that krill oil is being touted by some as being a better alternative to fish oil. What are your thoughts on this please? kind regards, ricky.”

    Ricky Vaughan - January 17 2011

  • “Hi Ricky, Glad to know that you are benefiting from our Fish Oil, and thanks for sharing it with us. About krill oil, Warren has covered this topic many times on our website, if you are interested in it, please type "krill oil" as key word in the search function (on the top right corner of our website), you will be able to find many articles related to it. Hope this helps!”

    Xtend-Life Expert - January 18 2011

  • “Hello: I am a 47 yr. old female who had a lipid profile done recently. My cholesterol level was 215, not sure what my triglycerides were (I was told they were slightly elevated too). I was given a cholesterol/triglyceride lowering diet. I want to start an Omega-3 fish oil but I am not sure what type to take or how much. I do have a medical history of Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease and I am on Synthroid 50mcg once daily. What are your suggestions. Thank you.”

    mary gaydos - October 31 2011

  • “i dont eat any fish or seafood dont like the taste i am 64 female what omega 3 should i be taking i take now 1,200 mg of fish oil from nature made plan to switch to your brand what should i be taking the ultra contanins unibuqnol source is from japan now with earthquake and radiation leak how can you gurantee it will be safe Thanks”

    Diane miller - April 01 2011

  • “Hi Jim, Thanks for this. The article gives some good very basic info on the benefits of taking a fish oil. However, it also gives very misleading info about what to look out for. For example, it states that fish oil extract taken from the liver (such as in tuna fish) is good for you. Firstly, the common liver extract oil comes from cod (‘cod liver oil’), but any extract taken from the liver is actually ill-advised. This is because the liver is the main organ of detoxification. Therefore it can contain many toxins, which will also be found in the extract. It also commonly contain excess amounts of stored Vitamin A, which isn’t advised to ingest either. So our advice is to avoid any extract that is taken from a gland or organ of the fish. Take extracts that are only taken from the flesh or skeleton of the fish. The article says that the best way to compare the doses is to add together the EPA and DHA amounts. This isn’t accurate. Both of these components are important, but the main component to look at in terms of dosage is the DHA level. This should be high and higher in ratio to the EPA level. This is because the DHA is the ‘building block’ component. The one on which EPA and other components rely to be able to work properly. DHA is able to convert to EPA should EPA be lacking, as it contains 2 additional carbon molecules, but EPA is unable to do the same as it doesn’t contain enough carbon molecules. So take a look at the DHA level, ensure it is in high dose and higher ratio than the EPA level. Finally, the article states that good sources of fish oil come from fish such as sardines, anchovies, cod, etc. These are all very low in pure DHA, so not very potent in terms of health benefit. They are also much more likely to be high in contamination. Try to avoid mixed sources of fish, i.e. ones that contain a mixture of these and other types of fish. We use only pure New Zealand Hoki and Tuna oil extracts. These are unique when combined in part triglyceride and part ester form to provide a very pure and highly potent anti-inflammatory formula. For more info on what to look for in a fish oil, how to compare them, and the purity and quality levels, take a look at our Buyer’s Guide, available to download on our Omega 3/DHA product intro page. Joanna”

    Xtend-Life Expert - February 09 2011

  • “Hello, I suffer from severe sleep apnea and is presently using the CPAP to sleep.. What suppliment do you recomend if any that can help ?. thanks.”

    Xtend-Life Expert - June 04 2012

  • “Hi Praimnauth, Thank you for your question. We do not have a specific product that will help sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is largely caused from problems in the throat, tonsils or weight and as such is hard for us to provide a recommendation. Our Neuro Natural Sleep product will not cure apnea however it may help in terms of a more restful sleep in general. You can read more about our Neuro Natural Sleep in the following URL: I hope this helps. Best regards Chantal ”

    Xtend-Life Expert - June 08 2012

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