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Fish Oil EPA and DHA

A review of recent articles and information are summarized below.

Fish oil Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) are in the Omega-3 category of essential fatty acids (EFA).  EPA and DHA may be beneficial in treating many illnesses adn imbalances which continues to be debated in the literature, especially Omega-3 deficiency.  DHA is found in the brain, sperm, and retina.  Could DHA be important in brain and heart health (depression, Alzheimer's, stroke, heart and artery diseases)?  Could DHA be important in attaining fertility and improvinf fetal health?  It is possible.

                                                           Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's)

Fish oil EPA and DHA is extracted from fatty, cold water fish.  Our bodies are unable to rpoduce 2 of these essential fatty acids and therefore we must consume them in our diet.  There are 3 EFA's in debate, but only Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids appear to be essential to maintain the body's immune function, hormone regualtion and fight inflammation.  The Omega-9 fatty acid, however, is made in the body.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: may ne integral for fertility.  Omega-3's (found in fish oil EPA and DHA) appear to regulate hormones, stop excessive clotting, and reduce inflammation.  Omega-3 is found in abundance in the sperm, fetal brain, cell walls and adult brain.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids: A high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 may be linked to decreased fertility, inflammatory conditions and auto-immune diseases.  It seems to be about balance of EPA's.

Omega-9 Fatty Acids: Information is vague, but these are made in the body and probably not essential in the diet.  Is a balance of Omega-9 to Omega 3-6-9 important?  This is unknown.

There usually is an extreme imbalance in the modern diet consisting of a 1:10 ratio up to 1:30 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6; therefore, there may be a risk of decreased fertility, inflammatory conditions, heart and brain disease and auto-immune disorders.   Data suggests working toward a 1:4 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6.  This may be achieved by diet and/or supplements of fish oil EPA and DHA.

                                          How to Attain a 1:4 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6?

The way to attain a healthy balance is to increase Omega-3 fatty acid consumption (fish oil EPA and DHA) and reduce Omega-6 fatty acid consumption (i.e. unhealthy vegetable oils).  Here are basic guidelines for creating this ratio:

1.  Take a minimal pharmaceutical grade concentrated fish oil supplement daily of 1000 mg of combined EPA and DHA (maintenance dose).  Couples trying to conceive should probably take 2000 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily.

2.  You should purchase fish oil from a reputable company that guarentees no heavy metal residue, no oxidation (meaning fresh fish), and no other additives.

3.  Consider eating fresh, clean fish 2-3 times a week.  Eating fish lower on the food chain helps to insure lower mercury contamination.  There are list on the internet updating fish with low mercury levels.  You can go to the March of Dimes website for this information.

4.  When eating meat, poultry, eggs, milk and cheese, choose free range animals that have grazed and have not been grain fed.  Free range animal products will have better Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio.

5.  Make your own trail mixes with raw walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumkin seeds (you may add one dried fruit to the mix for flavor such as crabberries, cherries, raisins or apples).

6.  Avoid using vegetable oils like corn, safflower or soy oil.  Corn and safflower oil are about 70% Omega-6 and all of these oils are processed with solvents.  Better oils to cook with are coconut oil and palm oil.  Olive oil is good for dressings and drizzled over hot foods.

                                                                         Good Luck!