Omega3 fish oil should contain DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DPA (Docosapentaenoic acid). The amount of each of those fatty acids should be listed on the label. Each one is beneficial, but the most important is DHA.
DHA is a 22 carbon bond long chained essential fatty acid. It is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants and is required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults. Low levels of DHA in the bloodstream have been associated with conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, depression and aggressive behavior.
Increased intake of DHA has been shown to improve learning ability, ability to concentrate and reduces feelings of depression. Studies concerning the benefit for protecting the brain from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease are currently ongoing. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes memory loss, dementia and eventually kills.
DHA omega3 fish oil has a positive effect on diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), type II or adult-onset diabetes and some types of cancer. It reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots.
DHA has good anti-inflammatory activity and helps to modulate immune system function. There are benefits for people that suffer from eczema, psoriasis, acne, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel diseases and any condition in which inflammation plays a role. Since inflammation is one of the causes of cellular aging, you might say that DHA-rich omega3 fish oil has anti-aging activity.
Both DHA and EPA have proven benefits for improving levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering total triglyceride levels. One study compared the benefits of DHA to that of EPA. The DHA group had a 26% decrease in blood triglycerides while the EPA group showed a decrease of 21%.
The human body can easily convert DHA to EPA, by removing two carbon bonds. The reverse is not true. In order to convert from EPA to DHA, the body would need to “add” two carbon bonds. That is not easily accomplished.
DPA is a lesser known omega3, although research is being conducted. Currently, we believe that it contributes to overall cardiovascular health, because it is present in high quantities in seal oil, a favored food of native Inuit peoples, who have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease, despite a diet high in fat.
Once you verify that the omega3 fish oil you are about to buy contains all of the essential fatty acids, find out what steps the manufacturer takes to insure purity and freshness. Molecular distillation is a popular choice, but it may also reduce the anti-inflammatory activity. Some recent evidence indicates that.
Some oils are naturally free of contaminants like mercury and PCBs. The manufacturer can verify that and prove it to consumers by posting an independent laboratory analysis on the company website.
With the popularity of omega3 fish oil as a dietary supplement, there has been an influx of new brand names. Your best bet is to buy online. The department store brands simply cannot be trusted.