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EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

Eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA for short, is a so-called omega-3 fatty acid. It belongs to the polyunsaturated fatty acids and is found in higher concentrations especially in fatty sea fish such as salmon. EPA is an important building block for the formation of other substances. You can find out here what functions EPA has in the body, what other substances it is converted into and more

What functions does EPA have in the body?

Eicosapentaenoic acid is the precursor for the formation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosanoids. The latter are needed for the function of the immune system, blood clotting and for the regulation of blood pressure and heart rate. DHA, in turn, is an important component of the membranes of nerve cells. Almost 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids found in the brain are DHA. Babies in particular need docosahexaenoic acid for brain development, especially in the first years of life. Pregnant women are therefore advised to take in at least 200 mg of DHA per day to positively support these developmental processes. Both EPA and DHA have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Which foods are rich in EPA?

EPA is produced by marine microalgae. The most important sources are therefore fatty sea fish such as salmon, as these feed on the algae and thus absorb and store the EPA formed

Is eicosapentaenoic acid an essential fatty acid?

Essential fatty acids are fatty acids that the body cannot form from other precursors but still needs. These must be supplied with food. EPA is not one of these essential fatty acids because it can be made from another omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. This is found mainly in linseed oil and hemp oil. Since it is not known exactly how high the conversion rate to eicosapentaenoic acid is, this should also be supplied with food

What is the daily requirement of EPA?

The daily requirement is about 250 milligrams per day. The maximum amount that should not be exceeded is about 3 grams per day

The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6

Not only the amount of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA consumed is important, but also the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids in the body. In the optimal case, the ratio between omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids should not be higher than 2:1 or 5:1. In the western world, this is often much higher. The reason for this is that we cook with vegetable oils that contain a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. These have a pro-inflammatory effect, whereas omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect; therefore, it is best to have a balance between the two