Written by the Progressive Nutritional Education Team
Although it makes sense to get our nutrition from food, it can sometimes be a struggle. Busy lifestyles can interfere with the best laid plans for meal prep, and then there’s the reality that our bodies don’t always process foods efficiently to optimize our health benefits. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are prime examples of nutrients that are impacted by both lifestyle and conversion challenges – and deficiencies can have consequences on health through the years.
EPA and DHA are the active form of omega-3 essential fats, but they are derivatives of alpha linoleic acid (ALA). ALA is found in plant oils including flaxseed, walnut and soy oils, and is converted to the active omega-3 fats through various enzymes.1 Research suggests that only a small percentage of dietary ALA (less than 15%) is converted to the active form.1 Relying on plant sources for omega-3 fats, then, is insufficient for most people and consuming EPA and DHA directly from food or supplements is the only practical way to increase levels in the body.1
DHA is a structural component of brain membranes that begins to rapidly accumulate in the third trimester of pregnancy until the third birthday.2 DHA is important for neuronal cell growth and signaling in the young brain.2 Research also shows protective effects on brain health as we age.3 For example, research that included over 1100 postmenopausal women found evidence that higher DHA correlated with larger total normal brain and hippocampal volume after 8 years.3 Significantly, the hippocampus plays a large role in learning and memory,4 and is obviously something we wish to protect as we continue to add candles to our birthday cake.
Research shows that EPA and DHA decrease risk of a cardiovascular event by reducing oxidative stress, improving cellular function and positively manipulating genes responsible for inflammation, plaque formation and healthy blood vessel permeability.5 In research published by Statistics Canada, however, 43% of adults had serum omega-3 levels associated with high risk for heart disease.6 High-risk levels were higher among men than women and older adults were at increased risk over young and middle-aged adults.6
Some researchers propose that the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio plays a role in chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diseases of the brain.5 Significantly, the shift in omega-6 to omega-3 intake ratio from 1:1 during evolution to greater than 20:1, particularly in the past three decades, parallels our collective expanding waistlines.7 While the ideal ratio of fat we should consume is up for debate, there is general agreement that we need to increase our intake of omega-3s and decrease our intake of omega-6s.7
Progressive OmegEssential can help
Progressive OmegEssential® High Potency Fish Oil is a foundational supplement designed to be taken on a daily basis. It has a long list of benefits like:8
- Helping maintain cardiovascular health,
- Supporting cognitive function,
- Promoting healthy mood balance
- Source of omega-3 fatty acids for the maintenance of good health as each serving provides 1,000mg of EPA and 550 mg of DHA in a balanced 2:1 ratio.
Progressive Omegessential® is an effective, tasty, and easy way of getting the essential omega-3s your body needs for optimal health and wellness.
- S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements - omega-3 fatty acids. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved February 23, 2022, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/#h3
- Lauritzen, L.; Brambilla, P.; Mazzocchi, A.; Harsløf, L.B.S.; Ciappolino, V.; Agostoni, C. (2016). DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function. Nutrients,8, 6 https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8010006
- Pottala, J., Yaffe, K., Robinson, J., Espeland, M., Wallace, R., & Harris, W. (2014). Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes. Neurology, 82(5) 435-442; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000080
- Anand, K. S., & Dhikav, V. (2012). Hippocampus in health and disease: An overview. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 15(4), 239–246. https://doi.org/10.4103/0972-2327.104323
- Swanson, D., Block, R., & Mousa, S. A. (2012). Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 3(1), 1–7. doi:10.3945/an.111.000893
- Langlois, K., Ratnayake, W. (2015). Omega-3 Index of Canadian adults. Health Rep. Nov;26(11):3-11. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2015011/article/14242-eng.htm
- Simopoulos A. P. (2016). An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients, 8(3), 128. doi:10.3390/nu8030128
- Government of Canada. Product information. Accessed on June 29th, 2021 at http://health-products.canada.ca/lnhpd-bdpsnh/info.do?licence= 80033216