Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been part of the human diet since ancient times. With the discovery of the health benefits of fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid, humanity has taken a fresh look at foods rich in these beneficial ingredients. But by the way, how many of us know about the existence of a substance with a difficult name eicosapentaenoic acid? And it, by the way, affects bone metabolism, prevents malignant tumors, improves mental health, and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. And this is not all the beneficial properties of this acid.
Eicosapentaenoic acid is one of several omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Most of this substance is found in fatty varieties of cold-water fish, such as salmon. Also, like docosahexaenoic acid, it is part of fish oil.
It is necessary to strengthen the protective function of the body from the harmful effects of the environment. Once in the body, it is introduced into the structure of cells, protecting them from malignant degeneration.
Why do we need fatty acids
Before delving into the topic of the benefits of EPA, it’s worth at least in general terms to understand what polyunsaturated fatty acids are.
At the cellular level, Omega-3 is a component of the membranes, at the level of the body - an active participant in metabolism, protects against inflammation. The state of blood vessels and muscle tissue, the blood formula, the health of the nervous system, the secretory functions in the body, the quality of impulse exchange and the health of all cells depend on polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of a healthy diet. Especially useful for people at risk for cardiac diseases. An additional supply of eicosapentaenoic acid to the body has a positive effect on the condition of persons with coronary heart disease, hypertension, elevated levels of triglycerides (fats) in the blood, as well as inflammation. But nutritionists around the world are sounding the alarm - most people do not get enough eicosapentaenoic and other beneficial fatty acids.
What is useful EPA?
Clinical observations around the world have allowed doctors to talk about the high therapeutic efficacy of eicosapentaenoic acid in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.
- Reduced attention in hyperactivity.
Studies have shown that children in the period of intensive growth especially need omega-3 fatty acids. Eicosapentaenoic acid acts on brain cells, contributing to its development. It was also found that fish oil helps to focus and reduces the severity of hyperactivity in children of different ages.
Fish oil treats depression. This statement was made by scientists after a series of studies. It is believed that eicosapentaenoic acid contained in the product gives such an effect. Also, EPA can reduce aggressiveness.
- Heart disease.
Another advantage of fish oil is the beneficial effect on the health status of people with cardiac problems. It is believed that this substance, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can also reduce the risk of the disease. In addition, EPA reduces blood pressure and the amount of lipids in the bloodstream, and also prevents the excessive formation of blood clots and plaques in blood vessels.
Research has shown that taking eicosapentaenoic acid regularly by 19 percent reduces the risk of sudden death from heart disease. A study of the health of the Eskimos, whose diet constantly contains cold-water sea fish, meat of whales and seals, showed that the risk of coronary heart disease in them is minimized. In their blood, scientists found a negligible concentration of "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides. Scientists also studied representatives of other nationalities and coastal residents, whose diet consists of foods rich in eicosapentaenoic acid. It turned out that the state of health of representatives of East African tribes, Japan, coastal territories of Russia, India is many times better than that of people who prefer meat.
Nutritionists advise at least twice a week to add oily fish containing EPA to the menu. It can be salmon, herring, trout, sardines, tuna. Cardiological department patients need slightly larger portions of omega-3. Doctors advise them to take nutritional supplements in the form of fish oil. The exact dosage is determined individually.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Several studies have shown that eicosapentaenoic acid in fish oil reduces the symptoms of inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. But it is not possible to completely stop the disease of EPA.
- Women Health.
It is believed that thanks to EPA, fish oil has a positive effect on women's health. In particular, regular intake of the substance helps to reduce soreness during menstruation, and also reduces the frequency of hot flashes in women during menopause.
- Raynaud's Syndrome.
Scientific observations have shown that the consumption of omega-3 fats can reduce the manifestation of the disease, make the fingers and toes less sensitive to cold. True, for the visible result, sufficiently high doses of the substance will be needed, therefore treatment is carried out exclusively under the supervision of a doctor.
Other diseases and conditions in which it is useful to take eicosapentaenoic acid and other omega-3 fatty acids:
- type 2 diabetes;
- hay fever;
- pregnancy with a risk of miscarriage;
- age-related macular degeneration;
- fibrocystic degeneration;
- Alzheimer's disease;
- ulcerative colitis;
- Crohn's disease;
- early stages of cancer.
In addition, EPA positively affects the condition of the lungs and kidneys, prevents migraines, skin infections, Behcet's syndrome, and cholesterol increase.
In combination with RNA and arginine, eicosapentaenoic acid reduces the risk of infections after surgery, accelerates wound healing.
EPA deficiency symptoms
The body will report about the lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular EPA:
- dizziness, lethargy, drowsiness, weakness;
- memory impairment;
- loss of appetite;
- depression, nervousness;
- reduced immunity;
- disorders in the reproductive system (in men and women);
- hair loss.
- unbalanced nutrition;
- lack of seafood in the diet;
- excessive consumption of black tea, beans, cucumbers, radishes (alkalizing food);
- diseases affecting the intensity of absorption of beneficial substances by the body.
Oversaturation of the body with EPA manifest itself:
- poor blood coagulation;
- articular hemorrhages;
The main sources of eicosapentaenoic acid are cold-water sea fish. It is best to prefer salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, clams and herring. It is believed that some of these fish contain mercury. Meanwhile, its quantity is so small that 2 servings of fish per week will not bring harm. It is also important that the fish does not contain toxins absorbed from contaminated waters. When buying a product, always be interested in which region salmon or other fish were caught.
Some tips on sources of eicosapentaenoic acid exist for pregnant women or those who wish to become pregnant. In this case, nutritionists advise avoiding dishes from the Atlantic mackerel, shark, swordfish, and the consumption of long-tuna tuna is minimized. This fish contains mercury in slightly higher concentrations than other products.
The most complete list of products containing EPA: black and red caviar, salmon, herring, oysters, mackerel, anchovies, Siberian whitefish, charcoal fish (black cod), chum, mackerel, capelin, hake, red mullet, catfish, sockeye salmon, seal meat and whale, catfish, trout, crab, coho salmon, sardines, smelt, halibut, blue whiting, shark, spiny lobster, mussels, seabass, bluefish, tuna, flounder, carp, mullet, sturgeon, cod liver, whale fat.
Available forms of EPA
Eicosapentaenoic acid, along with docosahexaenoic acid, is found in fish oil capsules. In many cases, pharmaceutical fish oil contains another equally useful substance - vitamin E.
How to use?
Breast-fed infants receive eicosapentaenoic acid from breast milk. Therefore, it is important that marine fish or fish oil appear regularly in the diet of a nursing mother. By the way, different portions of EPA are contained in breast milk at different stages of lactation. In colostrum, it makes up about half a percent of the total amount of fatty acids. Transitional milk may contain from 0.2 to 0.8% EPA, and mature milk from one to half percent.
An adequate portion of eicosapentaenoic acid for adults is not less than 220 mg per day, and preferably 1000-2500 mg. People who consume 2-3 servings of oily fish every week may not take biological supplements, since this portion of fish is equivalent to a daily intake of EPA and DHA in a total amount of 1250 mg.
The standard daily dosage of fish oil in capsules is 3000-4000 mg. But the concentration of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in products from different manufacturers may vary slightly. The exact amount of the substance is usually indicated in the instructions for use. The dosage for people with hemophilia and taking blood-thinning medications is determined by the doctor individually.
Who can take the maximum portion?
The daily maximum of eicosapentaenoic acid allowed by nutritionists can be taken by people with hypertension, after a heart attack, with stress or high physical exertion, vegetarians, residents of contaminated areas, women with an irregular menstrual cycle, people with a tendency to cancer, and decreased libido.
Fish oil capsules contain EPA and DHA. Without a doctor’s prescription, you should not give this dietary supplement to children so as not to upset the balance of fatty acids in their body. Also, pregnant women can take fish oil only with the permission of a doctor.
In some cases, capsules with fish oil can cause indigestion, diarrhea, belching. Excessive consumption sometimes causes bleeding. The same effect gives the drug along with blood-thinning drugs.
Interaction with other medicines
Eicosapentaenoic acid in combination with anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs can cause severe bleeding.
In theory, EPA can lower blood sugar. For this reason, it is important for diabetics to consult their physician before taking fish oil. An incorrect dosage of eicosapentaenoic acid is likely to cause hypoglycemia.
Cyclosporine is often prescribed to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. EPA reduces the effectiveness of the drug. Therefore, taking any dietary supplements containing fatty acids can be life threatening.
Eicosapentaenoic acid belongs to the group of omega-3 fatty acids that are extremely beneficial for people. The easiest way to get this substance is from seafood. Regular consumption of polyunsaturated fats is known to have many health benefits. Which ones - you already know. And now, having heard the complex name "eicosapentaenoic acid", you will know exactly how useful this substance is and why sea fish should appear on your table at least twice a week.