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DHA and EPA: The "Mega" Omega-3s

A Feel 21 Health Report

By Tanya Kenevich

Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are known to provide health benefits to those who supplement with them. In addition to traditional nutrients, there is a family of essential fats that is crucial for optimal health and proper function of the human cellular membranes: the omega-3 fats.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are in the primary omega-3 fats found in fish oil. In the first six months of life, DHA has been noted to be important in the development of the nervous system, a fact that has made omega-3s popular with new parents. The benefits of DHA and EPA have encouraged many baby formula makers to incorporate DHA into their products.

DHA is naturally produced by the human body but in a small quantity. That is why DHA and EPA have to be procured from food like coldwater fatty fish (including tuna, mackerel and salmon), phytoplankton or in supplement form. the supplements derived from plankton do not contain EPA, however.

Although DHA and EPA are becoming more well known, many do not ingest enough of it, either in food or supplement form. A lack of DHA and EPA can have detrimental effects on the brain, and can impair mental and visual function. Low DHA and EPA in one's diet has been linked to brain abnormalities like Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, Alzheimer's disease, memory loss and senility, among others. DHA and EPA are not cures for these diseases, but studies testing the strengths of DHA and EPA have shown positive effects on these debilitating illnesses.

Studies have also shown that omega-3s may offer protection to nerve fibers from multiple sclerosis (MS). In studies where those with MS were given DHA and the control group was given placebo, the DHA-treated patients were more positively affected than those who were not.

The most important fact to know about DHA and EPA is that it's never too late to introduce them to your diet. Whether the person consuming it is an infant, a child an adult or an elder, DHA and EPA continue to provide benefits to those who take advantage of their health-enhancing benefits.

DHA and EPA Supplements and Articles

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This article is reprinted with permission from Vitamin Retailer magazine and is provided for educational purposes only by your local retailer. No part of this article is intended as medical advice. Always consult your health care provider for any medical problems.

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