EPA, DHA and Fish Oil

Not all omega-3s are created equal. Here's what to look for.

Fill 1 Created with Sketch.
Fill 1 Created with Sketch.
Group 49 Created with Sketch.
Fill 1 Created with Sketch.

Omega-3 fish oils are the most common non-vitamin supplement taken in the US, according to the NIH. Fish oil is a common term used to refer to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids — EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

These essential fatty acids are crucial for a number of functions in our bodies: maintaining healthy triglyceride levels, muscle activity, blood clotting, digestion, fertility, and cell growth. DHA is important for brain development and function.

But not all fish oils are created equal! Many products boast high levels of overall omega-3 fish oils but relatively low levels of the active beneficial fatty acids EPA and DHA. The only way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth of EPA and DHA is to read the label.

Myriad benefits

Decades of clinical studies have yielded strong evidence that eating fatty fish rich in EPA or DHA lowers triglyceride levels in your blood.

Some studies suggest that people who get higher intakes of omega-3s may have a lower risk of certain cancers and cognitive diseases such as Alzeimer’s dementia. Clinical trials have also shown benefits for managing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as chronic pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints.

Recommended daily intakes for EPA and DHA have not been established. However, most Americans get very low amounts of EPA and DHA as we don’t tend to eat enough fatty fish or shellfish in our diets.

Not all omega-3s are created equal

Many fish oils products contain omega-3 fatty acids that are neither EPA nor DHA. Depending on the composition of their raw materials, some fish oils may contain omega-6 fatty acids, which are already abundant in the average American diets.

Our Ultra EPA+DHA contains 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA per serving — nothing more, nothing less. Other products may advertise 1,000 mg or even 2,000 mg of omega-3 fish oil on the front, but the supplement facts panel on the back reveals that only a small fraction is EPA or DHA, the active beneficial essential acids.

Always read the supplement facts!

EPA, DHA or both?

The optimal ratio of EPA to DHA depends on individual health needs. Our Ultra EPA+DHA has a ratio of 3 to 1 of EPA to DHA, which we believe can provide the most benefit for the average person.

According to the research, DHA is better than EPA in reducing total triglyceride counts and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. On the other hand, EPA has a more beneficial effect on lowering overall LDL (bad) cholesterol. So if you have a specific health concern, such as pregnancy or high LDL, consult your doctor for the best course of supplementation.

Fish oil's beneficial effects accumulate over a period of days and weeks, rather than immediately. Women who are hoping to become pregnant should begin supplementation as soon as possible, to give their bodies time to gather sufficient DHA levels.

The content of this website is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical treatment. Please contact your medical care practitioner for medical information and medical treatment. Never refrain from or delay seeking medical treatment or a medical consultation because of something you read on this site.