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Other name(s):

eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-3 oil(s)

General description

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid found in abundance in fish oils such as cod liver oil and haddock oil.

Medically valid uses

EPA has been clearly demonstrated to modify lipid metabolism and reduce harmful levels of lipids in the bloodstream and their associated damage to the lining of the blood vessels. In addition, EPA has been shown to reduce overproduction of cells that line the blood vessels (endothelial lining). Proliferation of the endothelial lining appears to be a first step in hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

EPA has also been used to treat several severe respiratory disorders including adult respiratory distress syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, the use of EPA is not a standard treatment for these diseases.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Fish oil is also claimed to possibly play a role in cancer and heart-attack prevention. It may be helpful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud's phenomenon.

Dosing format

There is no RDA (recommended dietary amount) for EPA. Typically, daily dosages of 3 to 9 g of fish oil are suggested. Rather than taking a recommended amount of EPA, the level of fatty acids in the diet should be minimized. This can be accomplished by consuming increased amounts of fish or marine animals, or by taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil is high in EPA.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before taking any dietary supplements.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

There are no known side effects associated with EPA.

There are no significant adverse food or drug interactions. The use of EPA in conjunction with other lipid-lowering drugs may be beneficial in preventing heart disease.

Additional information

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