We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are EPA Supplements?

By Jennifer Voight
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

EPA supplements contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is one of three essential omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered essential because the body cannot manufacture them and must get them from food or supplements. The only food sources of EPA are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines. Although the best way to consume enough EPA to obtain health benefits is to eat fish at least twice a week, EPA supplements have been shown to deliver similar benefits.

Two other omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found in fish, while ALA is found only in plant sources. Most EPA supplements also contain DHA, which together are considered the two substances responsible for the beneficial health effects of fish consumption.

For vegetarians who object to eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, it can be difficult to get enough EPA and DHA. The body is able to convert ALA from plant sources into EPA and DHA, but the process is inefficient and may not yield as much as eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. ALA is found in canola oil, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, soybeans, soybean oil, and walnuts. Unfortunately research has not shown the same health improvements from consumption of ALA.

Results of research on the health benefits of fish oil have been pronounced enough that the American Heart Association has recommended that healthy people eat fish twice a week. The World Health Organization recommends 0.3 to 0.5 grams of EPA and DHA combined daily. In the United States, the average person only consumes about 0.1 to 0.2 grams of combined EPA and DHA each day.

Consumption of DHA and EPA supplements have been proven in research studies to reduce high blood pressure, reduce high triglycerides, lower the rate of death from heart disease, and reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies have shown that DHA and EPA supplements and consumption of fish may reduce angina and help heart transplant and kidney transplant patients.

Preliminary studies also suggest that fish oil may improve learning and concentration in children, reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and reduce symptoms of depression. EPA and DHA may also improve symptoms of psoriasis by reducing the inflammatory response in the body. More research will be needed to verify these results.

EPA and DHA supplements have few side effects. The most common are a fishy aftertaste, nausea, and “fish burps.” Fish oil may increase risk of bleeding, so patients with heart disease or those on blood thinners should consult a doctor before starting EPA supplements. Many species of fish contain high levels of mercury, so exceeding two servings per week can also have a negative health effect.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.