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Other name(s):

eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-3 oil(s)

General description

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid. It’s found in fish oils. These include cod liver oil and haddock oil.

Medically valid uses

EPA changes lipid metabolism. It also lowers harmful lipid levels in the bloodstream. It reduces the damage lipids cause on the lining of the blood vessels.

EPA also reduces overproduction of cells that line the blood vessels. This is called the endothelial lining. This may help reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

EPA is also used to treat severe respiratory issues. These include adult respiratory distress syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Note that EPA isn’t a standard treatment for these diseases.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through studies.

Fish oil may help prevent cancer and heart attacks. It may help treat rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud's phenomenon.

EPA may also help treat depression and symptoms of menopause. It may also help treat psoriasis and personality disorder.

Dosing format

There is no recommended dietary amount (RDA) for EPA. Standard dosages range from 3–9 g of fish oil per day.

Instead of taking a set amount of EPA, you should reduce the amount of fatty acids in your diet. You can do this by consuming more fish or marine animals. Or you can take fish oil supplements. Fish oil is high in EPA.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare providers before taking any supplements.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

EPA doesn’t cause any known side effects.

There are no known food or medicine interactions with EPA. The use of EPA with other lipid-lowering medicines may help prevent heart disease.



Online Medical Reviewer: Poulson, Brittany, RD
Online Medical Reviewer: Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2016