The science behind the powerful health-supporting properties of DHA and EPA

The science behind the powerful health-supporting properties of DHA and EPA

Dietary fats play a crucial role in your body’s normal functions. Like proteins and amino acids, the fats that you get from food serve as structural building blocks and are also involved in vital bodily processes. [1]

For instance, dietary fats give your body energy. In fact, they are the slowest but most concentrated and efficient sources of energy for your cells. [2] Not only do fats support the growth of healthy cells, but certain types of fat also serve as structural components of cell membranes. [3]

Fats also help your body absorb certain nutrients. [4] Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins; their ability to dissolve in fat allows them to be absorbed easily in your small intestine. Because fats can move across the walls of your intestinal cells, fat-soluble vitamins can easily enter your bloodstream or reach your liver for storage with their help. [5]

Another good reason why you shouldn’t cut all fat sources out of your diet is that your body needs fats for healthy hormone production. In one study, American researchers found that an increased intake of healthy polyunsaturated fats can support reproductive hormones in healthy women. [6]

Fats also have a protective role inside your body. The excess fat stored underneath your skin provides insulation and helps regulate your body temperature. [7][8] Meanwhile, in your brain and spinal cord, your nerve cells are wrapped in an insulating layer called the myelin sheath that’s composed of protein and fats. Besides protecting those cells, the myelin sheath helps them transmit electrical impulses swiftly and efficiently. [9] 

Dietary fats you need to consume more of 

When you consume fats, your body breaks them down into fatty acids, which consist of long chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms bonded together. Fatty acids serve as the building blocks of triglyceride, the most common type of fat found in your blood and your body’s main source of energy. Triglycerides are formed by attaching three fatty acid molecules to a naturally occurring alcohol called glycerol. [10][11]

Depending on their structure, fatty acids can be divided into four categories: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fatty acids. [12] Saturated and trans fatty acids are labeled “bad dietary fats” for a reason: They have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. [13]

In contrast, monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are considered “healthy fats” because they offer considerable heart benefits. According to an article published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, diets high in both unsaturated fats can help you maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range. [14] However, simply increasing your intake of MUFAs and PUFAs is not enough; in order to experience their benefits, you need to replace the bad fats in your diet with these healthy fats.

Although your body can produce its own fatty acids, there are certain types that it can’t synthesize on its own. These fatty acids are called essential fatty acids, and they can only be found in certain foods. Essential fatty acids belong solely to the PUFA category because your body can produce MUFAs – what are also known as omega-9 fatty acids. [15]

There are two families of PUFAs that you need in your diet: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3s can only be sourced from foods like fatty fish, oysters, chia seeds, soybeans, flaxseeds and walnuts. [16] Omega-6s, on the other hand, are found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. [17] Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids your body can’t synthesize, respectively. [18] 

Why DHA and EPA are just as important to get as ALA 

Although ALA is the only essential omega-3 fatty acid, there are two others that experts recommend you get a lot of from your diet: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Unlike ALA, these healthy fats can be synthesized by your body – in fact, from ALA. But studies have found that less than 10% of the ALA you consume is converted into either DHA or EPA, hence the two are commonly treated as if they are also essential fats. [19][20]

You can easily get high amounts of ALA from many plant-based foods, such as flaxseed, walnuts, perilla and soybeans. DHA and EPA, on the other hand, are mainly found in fatty fish and other seafood. Because they are animal-based, it is difficult for people on a plant-based diet to get sufficient amounts of these fats organically. This is why DHA and EPA supplements were made. 

Maintaining adequate levels of DHA and EPA is important for your health for many reasons. Your cells, for one, rely on fats like DHA and EPA to maintain the protective structure that envelopes them called the cell or plasma membrane. [21] This multifaceted barrier not only helps control the transport of molecules in and out of cells, but it also helps regulate processes involved in cell communication. [22]

Your brain cells contain large amounts of fat molecules in their plasma membranes because they’re vital to their optimal functioning. According to research, the brain undergoes constant rewiring to allow you to learn, acquire news skills and form new memories. This rewiring requires brain cells to form new connections with other brain cells. In order to do so, they need to be fluid. [23][24]

As one of the main components of brain cell membranes, DHA helps provide fluidity to the outer extensions grown by brain cells so they can reach other cells and form connections. [25] A study published in the journal Biomolecules & Therapeutics also reports that the availability of neurotransmitters – the chemical messengers your brain cells use to communicate – is highly dependent on DHA levels. [26] This is why maintaining healthy DHA levels is important for a healthy brain.

Like DHA, EPA is also present in brain cell membranes, albeit in smaller amounts; nevertheless, it still affects critical cell functions, such as cell signaling and gene expression. But some studies suggest that EPA is more influential on behavior and mood than cognition or brain development. [27] EPA also serves as a precursor to eicosanoids called resolvins, which play an important role in the maintenance of healthy immune functions in the brain. [28]

Both DHA and EPA are also integral components of myelin sheaths. According to a study published in the journal BMC Neuroscience, these omega-3s are important for remyelination – the process by which your body generates new myelin sheaths for your nerve cells. [29][30]

Like the brain, your heart is also a recipient of DHA and EPA’s benefits. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, American researchers found that supplementing with DHA can help you maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels that are already within the normal range. [31] A similar effect was reported by a study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, which reviewed the effects of EPA supplementation on blood triglyceride levels. [32] Meanwhile, a separate study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that DHA and EPA can also support healthy blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range. [33]

DHA supplementation is also beneficial to your eyes. According to the American Optometric Association, the highest concentration of DHA inside your body can be found in your retina. Although how DHA supports eye health is still not fully understood, experts believe it may have something to do with DHA helping send signals to the brain. [34] A study published in the journal Brain Research also reported that in animals, inadequate DHA intake leads to poor vision. [35] Experts say that this is also true for humans.

In another study involving animals, researchers at Oregon State University found that DHA supplementation can also support healthy liver functions. [36] They noted that omega-3 fatty acids like DHA are involved in the regulation of many biological pathways, including the breakdown of fats in the blood. Fat buildup in the liver can lead to organ damage, impairing the liver’s capacity to regenerate. [37] But thanks to DHA’s involvement in fat breakdown, it can support your liver’s natural ability to heal.

Like all cells in your body, your muscle cells also have DHA and EPA in their cell membranes (sarcolemma). In fact, research shows that DHA and EPA are incorporated into the sarcolemma, as well as the membranes of your cell organelles. This enrichment with omega-3s not only affects skeletal muscle mass in a positive way, but it also supports healthy muscle protein synthesis and mitochondrial respiration (energy production), which are both crucial for optimal muscle performance. [38]

Besides your physical health, DHA and EPA also supports your emotional health. According to a study published in the FASEB Journal, these healthy fats can support optimal serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced by your nerve cells that’s involved in mood regulation. Low levels of DHA and EPA are linked to low serotonin production, which can have a negative effect on your mood, sleep quality, digestion and cognitive function. [39]

To recap, here are six amazing health benefits of supplementing with DHA and EPA:*

  • Supports healthy brain function
  • Supports healthy heart function
  • Supports healthy eye function
  • Supports healthy liver function
  • Supports healthy muscle function
  • Naturally uplifts mood 

Where to get lab-verified, vegan DHA and EPA supplements 

DHA and EPA have many important roles inside the body. Although they can be synthesized endogenously, making them nonessential fats, the body cannot convert their precursor, ALA, into either fat efficiently. This is why your diet should include excellent sources of DHA and EPA so you can maintain healthy levels of these conditionally essential fats.

Getting adequate amounts of omega-3s is easier said than done, especially for vegans and vegetarians. Fortunately, there is another reliable source of these healthy fats other than fatty fish.

Marine organisms like Thraustochytrids and the unicellular Schizochytrium sp. are widely studied for their unique ability to produce high amounts of DHA and EPA. [40] Unlike fish and other seafood, which are often contaminated with mercury because of biomagnification, these microorganisms can be grown in clean and controlled environments, making them an attractive alternative and sustainable sources of dietary PUFAs.

To help individuals on plant-based diets meet their daily omega-3 requirements, the Health Ranger Store is bringing you Chief Originals® Vegan Omegas DHA-EPA 60 Softgels. This premium omega-3 supplement contains DHA and EPA derived from non-GMO Schizochytrium sp., which produces these fats naturally during a specialized fermentation process.

Because our marine source is carefully grown in a controlled environment and the oil extracted from it undergoes a thorough filtration process, you can be sure that Chief Originals® Vegan Omegas DHA-EPA 60 Softgels do not contain any of the toxins or contaminants found in fatty fish and many fish oil supplements. Instead, our high-quality supplement is packed with DHA and EPA that can help you maintain healthy brain, heart, eye, liver and muscle functions.

Chief Originals® Vegan Omegas DHA-EPA 60 Softgels are vegan, non-GMO, GRAS affirmed, BSE/TSE-free and lab verified for cleanliness and purity. They contain no pesticides or residual solvents and are not exposed to ionizing radiation. Like all Health Ranger Store products, our vegan DHA-EPA softgels are extensively lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Support the optimal functions of your vital organs by supplementing with clean, lab-verified DHA and EPA every day!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not recommended to treat, cure or diagnose any disease.