Alternative Medicine - - Health News & Tips -

The 2015-2020 Di­etary Guide­lines may not be per­fect, but they did get one thing right: The strug­gle to in­sert more omega-3 es­sen­tial fatty acids into Amer­i­can di­ets is real. The guide­lines rec­om­mend con­sum­ing 8 ounces of seafood that is low in methyl mer­cury per week. For preg­nant women, they upped the dose to 12 sug­gested ounces. While we’re ec­static that EPA and DHA (the most ef­fi­cient omega-3s) were ac­knowl­edged and agree that nat­u­ral­ly­oc­cur­ring sources are the best way to power up, omega-3 sup­ple­ments can also be very ef­fec­tive and al­low more con­trol over dosage of EPA and DHA in­di­vid­u­ally. So what’s the dif­fer­ence, any­way? Ger­ard Ban­nen­berg, PhD, the di­rec­tor of com­pli­ance and sci­en­tific outreach at the Global Or­ga­ni­za­tion of EPA and DHA, pro­vided this non-ex­haus­tive list of unique traits.

DHA is the most abun­dant polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acid in the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem (brain), while EPA is found in very low amounts there. DHA can be trans­formed to EPA, how­ever, EPA is not ef­fi­ciently con­verted to DHA when mea­sured in the cir­cu­la­tory sys­tem. DHA of­fers pro­tec­tion to liver cells from the cell-dam­ag­ing ef­fects of al­co­hol, yet EPA en­hances the tox­i­c­ity of al­co­hol in th­ese cells. That does not mean that omega-3 in­take en­hances or low­ers the tox­i­c­ity of al­co­hol on the liver—it is all dose-de­pen­dent and more com­pli­cated in a real per­son. EPA but not DHA can pre­vent fi­bro­sis in a heart fail­ure model in mice. In healthy men, EPA low­ers serum to­tal choles­terol, but DHA does not. DHA may in­duce an in­crease in serum HDL-choles­terol, whereas EPA does not. Both EPA and DHA can sup­port anti-in­flam­ma­tory ef­fects, al­beit in dif­fer­ent or­gans. Omega-3 in­take may of­fer anti-de­pres­sant ac­tiv­ity when it con­sists of at least 50 per­cent EPA, whereas DHA does not seem to con­trib­ute to anti-de­pres­sant ac­tiv­ity. The ef­fi­cacy seems re­stricted to ma­jor de­pres­sion and bipo­lar dis­or­der, not mild de­pres­sion.

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