Benefits of EPA & DHA

Benefits of EPA & DHA
  • Nature's Source

A lifetime of omega-3 benefits.

 As the saying goes: we are what we eat. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means eating foods that deliver a positive impact on our physical and mental health.

 When it comes to omega-3, that saying is even more true since the human body doesn’t produce its own omega-3. There are three key types of omega-3 that together deliver a range of health benefits, ranging from healthy development of children and teens to improved cardiovascular function and even maintaining eye and brain health as we age. Since you can only acquire those omega-3s from consuming foods rich in fatty acids, what you eat plays an incredibly important role.

What foods contain omega-3?

To understand what foods to eat, first you need to understand the three key types of omega-3 and how your body processes them. The first is known as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is found in high-fat plant foods like flax seeds, walnuts and leafy greens. However, because our bodies must first convert ALA to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)  and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), it’s a less efficient source of beneficial fatty acids, with studies showing that we convert ALA into EPA and DHA at a rate of only 5%. EPA and DHA are the two most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids because they can be metabolized directly, providing the most immediate benefit to the human body. EPA+DHA can be found in foods like cold-water fish, seafood, and algal oil.

Research suggests that throughout the human life span, beneficial omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in many aspects of our physical and mental health. Omega-3 has been shown to offer health benefits for the following six conditions and stages in life:

Pregnancy and Infant health

EPA and DHA are vital building blocks for healthy fetal brain and retina development. Maternal DHA is the primary source of this fatty acid for the fetus, since it can’t be synthesized directly in either the fetus or the placenta. Breastmilk is also a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 supplements that have a Natural Product Number (NPN) are safe to take for pregnant women. However, omega-3 supplements should not be considered equivalent to eating fish.

Eye and Brain Development in Children

The retina contains the body’s highest concentration of DHA, so omega-3s are considered especially important for healthy eye and brain development in children. DHA also makes up over 90% of the fatty acids in the brain.

ADHD in Children

EPA and DHA, along with a unique omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA) may help to reduce symptoms associated with ADHD in children. Dietary supplementation with fish oils (providing EPA and DHA) appears to alleviate ADHD-related symptoms in at least some children, and one study of DCD children also found benefits for academic achievement.

Heart Health in Adults

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA+DHA form an important part of a healthy lifestyle by maintaining and supporting cardiovascular health throughout adulthood. They do this by helping lower triglycerides, the levels of blood fats that are linked to heart disease.

According to Health Canada products containing 1,000-5,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day, with a ratio of EPA:DHA between 0.5:1 and 2:1, provide the benefits listed above.

Brain and Cognitive Health in Adults

In addition to benefiting infant and child cognitive development, EPA+DHA are also important for normal brain function in adults. Both of these beneficial fatty acids are found in the cell membranes of the adult brain, help preserve cell membrane health and facilitating communication between brain cells.

Dry Eye in Adults

As we discussed, DHA is highly concentrated in the eye. However, clinical studies on dry eye use a higher ratio of EPA+DHA intervention because of the anti-inflammatory properties of EPA role in this need state. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends a diet rich in omega-3 to help prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

Rheumatoid Arthritis in Adults

Among their many benefits, EPA+DHA offer anti-inflammatory properties and also help support the body’s efforts to decrease inflammation. These two omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in adults, in conjunction with conventional therapy.

According to Health Canada products containing 2,800-5,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day, with a ratio of EPA:DHA between 0.5:1 and 2:1, provide the benefits listed above.

So, there you have it: at every stage of our lives, omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to support health and wellness.

Whether you choose to get EPA+DHA from your diet or an omega-3 supplement, it is important to consider your overall health first: your current diet, your lifestyle, any chronic conditions or concerns you might have, before determining the source of omega-3 that is right for you. If you’re choosing a supplement, consider visiting our online store at https://shop.natureswaycanada.ca/collections/omega-3 for a complete list of our NutraSea and NutraVege omega-3 products.

 And it is always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or dietician if you have specific questions about how a dietary supplement could benefit you and your family.

References:

  • https://www.nutrasea.ca/benefits/benefits
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  • Canadian Association of Optometrists: https://opto.ca/health-library/national-nutrition-month-eye-food-info
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  • Sugasini D, Yalagala PCR, Subbaiah PV. Efficient Enrichment of Retinal DHA with Dietary Lysophosphatidylcholine-DHA: Potential Application for Retinopathies [published correction appears in Nutrients. 2021 Jun 24;13(7):]. Nutrients. 2020;12(10):3114. Published 2020 Oct 12. doi:10.3390/nu12103114
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