Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is a major component of fish oil. It is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid of the n-3 or omega-3 type. EPA is an all cis polyunsaturated fatty acid containing 20 carbons and 5 double bonds. The typical Western diet is relatively deficient in omega-3 fatty acids compared to the diets of our ancestors. Our main dietary sources of EPA are cold water fish such as wild salmon. Fish oil supplements may also raise the concentrations of EPA in the body. Increased intake of EPA has been shown to be beneficial in coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
EPA is required for the production of a special group of substances in the body called prostaglandins, which control blood clotting and other arterial functions. EPA also provides a natural approach to lower serum triglycerides. Of almost equal importance, but not as widely researched, is Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), a major component of the human brain tissues and the retinal tissues of the eyes. It also serves the other important function of the transmission of nerve impulses in the nervous system. EPA PLUS supplies these important fatty acids in the highest concentrations found and, in addition, it does not contain potentially harmful levels of Vitamins A and D, such as that found in equivalent amounts of many other fish liver and fish body oils.
EPA has been associated with many potential health benefits. Support of cardiovascular health is first on the list. More specifically, EPA may reduce the occurrence of angina attacks. This benefit is probably related to EPA’s blood-thinning properties. EPA may also be able to help the heart maintain a steady rhythm by positively affecting its electrical activity. EPA may help the body lower harmful triglyceride levels in the blood stream. Triglycerides are a contributing factor to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases. EPA may also lower blood pressure in people with moderate hypertension. One study measured the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on the elastic nature of the arteries. Both EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were evaluated and compared to a group taking only a placebo (sugar pill). The measure of elasticity study is called systemic arterial compliance (SAC). When SAC is low the arteries are less elastic, which may be a sign of cardiovascular disease. Compared to placebo, EPA increased SAC 36% and DHA increased SAC 27%.