5 Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA for Your Health

5 Health Benefits of Omega-3 EPA Fatty Acids

Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs), with EPA and DHA accounting for over 80% of the total omega-3 PUFAs in fish oil. [1]

Scientific research has extensively studied EPA and DHA, and has discovered that Omega 3 PUFAs have positive effects on metabolic disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as on conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, neurological health, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. [1]

As a result, many people consume Omega 3 fatty acids to fulfill their health needs.

What is EPA?

The scientific name of EPA is eicosapentaenoic acid, and is a long-chain of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids [2].

The metabolites of EPA have a protective effect on our nervous system, especially for its effect on behavior and mood. EPA mainly acts as a “cleaner” for blood vessels, helping to maintain blood flow, prevent thrombosis, and prevent strokes or heart attacks.

In addition, EPA also has the effects of blood lipid-lowering, atherosclerosis prevention, and anti-inflammation, which can alleviate the discomfort caused by allergies.


5 important health benefits of EPA

  1. EPA improves attention

    Currently, studies have shown that children and adolescents with ADHD have lower levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in their bodies.

    Researchers believe that people with lower levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in their bodies also have more difficulty  in emotional processing. Supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids may help improve the emotional management symptoms of ADHD. [3]

    Studies have also found that Omega 3 fatty acids have a significant effect in reducing ADHD symptoms, especially when taking higher doses of EPA. [4]

  2. EPA reduces symptoms of depression

    Many studies have also found that patients with depression have lower levels of EPA in their bodies.

    A clinical study was conducted in which patients with depression were given supplemental EPA for 12 weeks. The results showed that the group that consumed more than 1000 mg of EPA per day had significant reduction in depression, anxiety, fatigue and thoughts of self harm, while they had significant improvements in sleep and positivity.  These trials caused no side effects to any of the patients.  

    This is helpful for patients who are receiving appropriate treatments for depression but still experience depressive symptoms. [5]

    Another clinical study also came to the same conclusion that severe depression patients who were supplemented with EPA in addition to their standard medication, had their depressive state reduced greatly. [6]

  3. EPA improves cardiovascular health

    In recent years, many studies have found an association between the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids in the daily diet and a lower rate of cardiovascular diseases. [7]

    In one clinical trial, patients with high cholesterol were given either 1800 mg of EPA plus a statin, or a statin alone. The group receiving EPA showed significant reductions in angina and non-fatal coronary events, as well as a 19% reduction in major coronary events. Both groups also had a 25% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. [8]

    In another clinical trial, people with type 2 diabetes, who are at a much higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, were given 2000 mg of EPA daily. The results showed a significant reduction in their arterial plaque index, suggesting that supplementation with EPA may help prevent cardiovascular complications in type 2 diabetics and help  fight atherosclerosis. [9]

  4. EPA reduces inflammation

    Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in numerous studies to help improve allergies and asthma. They can effectively reduce inflammation state in the body. [10]

    A clinical study of infants at high risk for allergies found that daily supplementation with fish oil, evaluated at 6 and 12 months after birth, significantly reduced their allergic response (IL-13) to house dust mites, effectively reducing their allergic reaction. [11]

    In another clinical trial, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were given a daily supplement of 1.8 grams of EPA and 1.2 grams of DHA. The results showed that the group receiving the extra fish oil had a significant reduction in the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and their overall joint mobility also improved. [12]

  5. EPA helps regulate blood sugar

    Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve resistance to insulin, which has a positive effect on blood sugar control.

    One study found that feeding a high EPA diet to animals could significantly reduce their high blood sugar and strengthen the resistance to insulin. It can also improve their gut microbiota ecology. [13]

    Another animal study found that a high dose of EPA supplementation along with a high-fat diet helped maintain normal glucose tolerance. [14]


Foods containing EPA

In general, EPA and other Omega 3 fatty acids can be obtained through the consumption of fish and processed fish products in daily diets. The consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids is higher in fish with a higher fat content, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. [15]


Recommended intake of EPA

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies has established Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for Omega-3 fatty acid intake. The recommended intakes are provided in the table below.[16]

Age Male Female
1-3 yrs. 700mg 700mg
4-8 yrs. 900mg 900mg
9-13 yrs. 1200mg 1000mg
over 14 years 1600mg 1100mg


Side Effects of EPA

According to the suggestions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a daily intake of up to 5 grams (EPA+DHA) is considered safe, even with long-term use, and there have been no reports of adverse effects. [17]

If you have concerns about supplementing with EPA, it is recommended that you discuss with your doctor or a registered dietitian before making any decisions.


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