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Eicosapentaenoic Acid, What Is It Good For

Aug 18, 2007
According to National Statistics Online, one in nine women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. With such a high number, its only natural to wonder what else we might be able to do to prevent this number from rising. If one were to look at the UK diet in today's times, its easy to see that proper eating habits have fallen by the wayside, causing decreased levels of essential nutrients in the body.

When the body does not have access to these kinds of nutrients, cells can not fight off the progression of cancer and maintain good health. It only makes sense to look for ways to continue the natural balance of nutrients in the body especially those that the body does not make on its own.

What is Eicosapentaenoic Acid

Eicosapentaenoic acid is an essential fatty acid that is not able to be manufactured by the body without some help. Unlike other fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid can actually be constructed from another fatty acid, in a sort of chain reaction of events. When a person ingests a plant form of essential fatty acids, like flaxseed oil, for example, they are ingesting a form of EFA known as ALA or alpha linoleic acid. This essential fatty acid is also not something the body produces on its own, though it is needed in many body processes. When the person ingests this essential fatty acid, the body then converts the acid into DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. The DHA that is produced is something that can also be taken in when the person eats an animal source of essential fatty acids.

As an Omega 3 fatty acid, the body can create eicosapentaenoic acid by taking in such things as walnuts, flaxseed oil, or canola oil to start the conversion of ALA to the EPA.

Is This Found in Fish Oil Too

What's interesting about eicosapentaenoic acid is that while it seems to be converted from only plant sources of essential fatty acids, this is not the case in nature. Fish are another source of high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid, so they can also be used as a dietary supplement or addition. Of course, this means that a person can ingest fish oil capsules and still enjoy the health benefits.

For some people, fish oil capsules are actually the best choice for their lifestyle and tastes. Because they do not like to eat or cook fish, these supplements allow them to make the process of keeping the body in balance all the easier on a day to day basis. What's more is that eicosapentaenoic acid can be ingested in large quantities without any known side effects, so adding supplements to each day as well as food sources is not going to cause adverse reactions, according to studies.

What are the Benefits for the Body

Often touted as the most important of all the essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid does provide many health benefits to the taker. According to a study done in 2003 by van Schacky, the use of eicosapentaenoic acid in the diet seems to give the user protection against heart disease. When the subjects of the study were given eicosapentaenoic acid in addition to DHA, they had a lower incidence of heart related disorders than the control group displayed. What should be noted, however, is that in this study, there was no differentiation between the two essential fatty acids, so the effects may also be a result of the combination of factors as opposed to individual EFAs.

Another study done in 2003 indicated that the use of eicosapentaenoic acid may help to slow the progression of both prostate and breast cancer in the body. Contrary to popular belief, this same study also showed that the presumed risk of a higher incidence of hormone related cancers (as in breast, uterine, and ovarian) is not indicated with the use of these supplements. This is certainly a piece of knowledge that can be tested further to see if other cancers respond as well to the use of eicosapentaenoic acid.

What About Vegetarians

In the use of eicosapentaenoic acid, it seems that more health benefits are present when the user uses fish oil supplements or fish sources. In a study of vegans and vegetarians, Harvard scientists found that these subjects had lower levels of eicosapentaenoic acid in their bodies, regardless of how many vegetables and flaxseeds they might have eaten. Whether this is a demonstration of the depression of the body's ability to process EFAs into eicosapentaenoic acid is unclear.


What is clear is that people who do not take high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid into their body through supplements or adding fish to their diet may not be able to enjoy the healthy benefits that have been seen in studies over the years. Women especially may want to take note of these protective qualities of eicosapentaenoic acid and begin to take control of their health in the process.
About the Author
Simon jones is an expert in fish oil and EPA. fOR MORE Information about EPA and fish oil please come and visit our site http://www.mind1st.co.uk/product_detail_2.asp
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