Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)

Eicosapentaenoic acid (also known as EPA, timnodonic acid or icosapentaenoic acid) is a long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid found in oily fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon and sardine. It has the chemical name of all-cis-5,8,11,14,17-eicosapentaenoic acid, with a formula C20H30O2 and a lipid name of 20:5 (n-3).

Eicosapentaenoic acid has mild blood thinning properties and may reduce the risk of blood clots, and also plays a significant role in reducing the triglyceride level in the blood. EPA also moderates the body's immune response, reducing chronic inflammation and reducing pain and swelling of the joints. The fatty acid has shown signs of reducing and possibly even the progression of breast cancer, as has also been used to aid in treatment of multiple myeloma. In addition, EPA is thought to help reduce the severity of symptoms in certain mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, and has been shown to positively affect depression and reduce suicidal behaviour.

This omega-3 fatty acid is not stored as well in the body and so must be consumed on a regular and ongoing basis, primarily from oily fish or from microalgae, or the supplements derived from these sources. The human body can also convert alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to EPA; however, this is much less efficient than the resorption of EPA from dietary sources. Medical conditions such as diabetes or certain allergies can also significantly reduce the human body's ability to metabolise EPA from ALA.