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Omega-3 - DHA, EPA

[Human Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids | Role of Fat in Cardiovascular Health
[Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Optimal Cardiovascular Health | Consider the Source]
[Neptune Krill Oil | FDA Ruling on Omega-3 | References | Health News & Studies]

Human Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Increasing research reveals the health-promoting properties of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) produced in the body from another essential omega-3 fat, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). DHA is a constituent of breast milk and is also found naturally in algae. Fish consume algae and are thus a good source of DHA. An essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce, DHA must be obtained in the diet for proper brain, visual, hormonal and cardiovascular processes to function adequately.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid produced in the body from ALA. EPA is found in breast milk and fish. Like DHA, EPA is an essential fatty acid that must be obtained in the diet so that many bodily processes function appropriately. Alpha linolenic acid (ALA) cannot be synthesized by the body and is often lacking in the US population due to poor dietary intake. ALA must be obtained through the diet to support cellular maintenance and healthy heart and blood vessel function.

Look for an Omega-3 EPA & DHA product that utilizes select cold water ocean fish as a source of the essential fatty acids EPA & DHA and is tested to ensure product purity, free from pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and PCBs.

Role of Fat in Cardiovascular Health

Many experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of our population consumes insufficient quantities of essential fatty acids.

In this day and age of fat phobia and the enormous amount of low-fat and non-fat food products that appear in grocery stores, essential fatty acid supplementation may seem puzzling to some individuals. Its true that certain fats are not healthy when eaten in excess (i.e. saturated fat, cholesterol and hydrogenated or trans fatty acids); however, the omega-3 fatty acids found in both vegetable sources and fish are essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, these essential fatty acids have been under recognized for the benefits they offer in supporting the cardiovascular system. Many experts estimate that approximately 80 percent of our population consumes insufficient quantities of essential fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for optimal cardiovascular health

An adequate intake of ALA, EPA and DHA in the diet is essential to assure that many processes are functioning adequately, including, blood clotting, lipid levels, arterial or blood vessel function and even immunity. By altering the type of dietary oils consumed and stored in cell membranes, a person can manipulate their prostaglandin metabolism. Prostaglandins are hormone like compounds that are produced as a result of the types of dietary oils you consume and are extremely important in regulating many bodily processes. The two most important fats related to prostaglandin metabolism are the omega-6 polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid and the omega-3 polyunsaturated fat alpha linolenic acid. The balance of these oils in the diet is critical for proper prostaglandin metabolism and a host of physiological processes in the body.

In the body, linoleic acid (omega-6) is metabolized to arachidonic acid (also found in meat and dairy products) – a precursor to specific prostaglandins, which can tighten blood vessels. These Omega-6 fatty acids are called pro-inflammatory fatty acids by Dr. Nicholas Perricone and others.

Alpha linolenic acid (omega-3), however, is metabolized in the body to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosa-hexaenoic acid), which serve as precursors to specific prostaglandins, which promote healthy blood vessel function. These omega-3 fatty acids are called anti-inflammatory.  The essential fatty acids, ALA, EPA and DHA have also been associated with healthy lipid levels, and have all been noted as cardiovascular supportive fats.

Consider the Source

Flax seed oil is also a great alternative for vegetarians, vegans, and individuals who don't eat fish or choose not to supplement their diet with fish oil. However, alpha linoleic acid from flax seed oil is not sufficiently converted to EPA/DHA by the body, so a vegetarian source of DHA, called Neuromins DHA, derived from microalgae is available in supplement form. Omega-6 fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, are essential and must be obtained from the diet, but should be limited to 6 grams.

Most Americans get enough omega-6 oils (found in sunflower, safflower, corn, soy and peanut oil) from the high consumption of vegetable oil-based margarine, salad dressings and mayonnaise, so supplementation with linoleic acid is generally not necessary.

Although there are no recognized dosage recommendations for essential fatty acid intake, experts recommend 1 to 2 grams of alpha linolenic acid and 600 to 1,000 milligrams of combined EPA/DHA daily.  This is the amount available in about 3 grams of fish oil.

Do not confuse fish oil rich in omega-3 with cod liver oil.  Cod liver oil is a rich source of Vitamin D, but a weak source of Omega-3 oils.

Neptune Krill Oil

The omega-3 fatty acids in Neptune Krill Oil™, which are almost exclusively EPA and DHA, come in the form of PHOSPHOLIPIDS contrary to all other marine oils where the fatty acids are in a triglyceride form. In human studies, Neptune Krill Oil™ supplementation demonstrates anti-aging characteristics, makes women feel younger, demonstrates anti-wrinkle fighting power, supports healthy joints, the heart, lipid and blood sugar levels, energy production, athletic performance and liver function, and eases women's PMS symptoms.

FDA ruling on omega-3 ’s

The Food & Drug Administration, in November 2000, completed a review finding that “the scientific evidence that omega-3s may reduce the risk of heart disease is suggestive”. Although they tempered their statement with the disclaimer that the data is “not conclusive” and that further studies are needed, it is truly a milestone for omega-3 fatty acids.


  1. Djousse L, Pankow JS, Eckfeldt JH, Folsom AR, Hopkins PN, Province MA, Hong Y, Ellison RC. Relation between dietary linolenic acid and
    coronary artery disease in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study.Am J Clin Nutr 2001 Nov;74(5):612-9.
  2. Lanzmann-Petithory D. Alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular diseases.J Nutr Health Aging 2001;5(3):179-83
  3. Nestel PJ, Pomeroy SE, Sasahara T, Yamashita T, Liang YL, Dart AM, Jennings GL, Abbey M, Cameron JD. Arterial compliance in obese subjects is improved with dietary plant n-3 fatty acid from flaxseed oil despite increased LDL oxidizability.Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1997 Jun;17(6):1163-70.
  4. Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Lancet 1999 Aug 7;354(9177):447-55.
  5. von Schacky C, Angerer P, Kothny W, Theisen K, Mudra H. The effect of dietary omega-3 fatty acids on coronary atherosclerosis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 1999 Apr 6;130(7):554-62.
  6. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Wolk A, Colditz GA, Hennekens CH, Willett WC Dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and risk of fatal ischemic heart disease among women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999 May;69(5):890-7.

Health News & Studies

Adapted and reprinted with exclusive permission of Natrol, Inc.

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