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What Are the Benefits of EPA in Fish Oil?

by
author image Joshua Bailey
Joshua Bailey has been writing articles since 2006 with work appearing at Bodybuilding.com and 2athletes.com. Bailey holds the following certifications: NASM-CPT, NASM-PES, NASM-CES and NSCA-CSCS. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise and sports science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
What Are the Benefits of EPA in Fish Oil?
EPA can be found in fish oil pills. Photo Credit Fish oil vitamins image by Stephen VanHorn from Fotolia.com

Overview

Fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, shellfish and herring contain larger amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in comparison to other fish. Omega-3 fatty acids have been touted as an important component to a healthy diet according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. EPA, in particular, has been found to be especially beneficial when consumed. Fish oil may contain mercury and can interact with medication. Consult your doctor before adding or altering EPA in your diet.

Depression

Depression is a mental condition that ranges from mild to severe states of sadness. EPA found in fish oil has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression in some people. This benefit is most noticeable in those who have the most severe symptoms. Individuals with depression have been shown to have low levels of EPA in circulation. It is thought that by increasing the supply of EPA in the blood stream that brain function would be assisted. The recommended dosage varies, but a minimum of 100 mg to 300 mg of EPA is recommended. Fish oil is not a replacement for conventional treatment; however, it can be used to augment it according to Daniel Hall-Flavin of the Mayo Clinic.

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Psoriasis

Psoriasis is often characterized by raised red patches on the skin, and is an autoimmune disease according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, or NPF. The NPF states that dietary supplementation with fish oil has shown some promise in reducing mild to moderate symptoms of the condition. Dr. Lawrence Gibson of the Mayo clinic suggests that the EPA found in fish oil acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body, which likely suppresses the body’s immune response, thus blunting the overactive T-Cells responsible for psoriasis. This effect will vary from person to person.

Lupus

Lupus, another autoimmune disease, results in the immune system attacking the body's tissues and organs. Only a handful of studies have been conducted on the effects of EPA on lupus as of 2010, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, but these studies have shown promise in a reduction of fatigue and pain in lupus patients. The anti-inflammatory nature of EPA is likely to play a part by suppressing the body’s natural immune response, which diminishes the strength of the attacks on the body.

Cholesterol Reduction

The University of Maryland Medical Center also notes that the EPA in fish oil has been implicated in cholesterol reduction and a resulting improvement in heart disease. EPA acts to lower the triglyceride levels in the blood. This decrease in triglyceride levels means that there is potential for decrease in cholesterol formation--important because high cholesterol levels are related to plaque build-up in the body which can result in stroke and heart disease.

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References

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