For many years, the two most popular omega-3 fatty acids were ocosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). However, recently, consumers and the scientific community have become interested in docosapentaenoic acid (DPA fish oil). This new and powerful fatty acid offers a variety of health benefits and differs from DHA and EPA in important ways.
Fish oil is widely known as the main source of omega-3 fatty acids. The benefits of fish oil have made it a particularly popular supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in food. Fish, including salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring, offer the highest servings of omega-3. In addition, shellfish, such as mussels and oysters, provide significant doses.
Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. For many years, scientists only recognized two types of fatty acids in fish oil, EPA and DHA. Recent studies have discovered the benefits associated with DPA.
Since it has two more carbon chains, scientists consider DPA a longer form of EPA. It offers many of the same benefits as EPA and DHA, in addition to several unique properties.
Like many fish oil supplements, DPA fish oil is more commonly produced in liquid gel capsules or softgel form.
The health benefits that DPA offers are many. They range from improved heart health and inflammation management to better cognitive function and healthier skin.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, the top sources of DPA are the following: fish oil, sockeye salmon, Atlantic salmon, and beef.
How do you know if your body needs more DPA? Individuals with diets that are not rich in omega-3 fatty acids are most in need of fish oil supplements that contain DPA. For example, vegetarians and infants that are fed with a bottle may lack these important nutrients.
Those who do not eat much fish should also consider supplementing their diet with DPA fish oil. Since fish is the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids, individuals with restricted diets should pay particular attention to the benefits of DPA.
DPA Fish Oil Benefits
Fish oil is a popular supplement because of its many health benefits. Many of these health benefits are widely known, but others might surprise some consumers. Consider these benefits when determining whether fish oil could improve your health.
Improving Heart Health
Omega-3 fatty acids play a clear role in improving heart health and reducing the possibility of heart disease. DPA, in particular, is shown to offer benefits for a healthy heart.
In fact, a recent study by Harvard University found that in a study of over 30,000 participants, higher levels of DPA were related to improved heart health. These individuals were less at risk of suffering from a heart attack.
When used in combination with exercise and a balanced diet, DPA can be helpful in lowering blood pressure and increasing “good” forms of cholesterol. Good cholesterol refers to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), which plays a role in removing other bad cholesterol.
Studies also show that DPA may support the body’s blood clotting function. It may also help prevent thrombosis in women. Thrombosis describes the blocking of a blood vessel by blood clots, which prevents blood from flowing properly.
Improved Cognitive Function
In addition to the health benefits described above, researchers associate DPA with improved cognitive function. Researchers have found in lab testing that DPA helps to safeguard synaptic connections. Over time, these connections would be degraded with aging, but scientists have shown that DPA helps to preserve them.
But that’s not all. Omega-3 fatty acids can also offer benefits for your skin. DPA can help prevent aging skin, and it allows your skin to better balance oil and hydration. DPA can even protect your skin from the sun damage.
EPA, DHA and DPA Fish Oil Compared
Scientifically, DPA is very similar in chemical structure to EPA. It has the same amount of double bonds but additional carbon chains. As such, scientists consider DPA an elongated version of EPA.
Different forms of omega-3 fatty acids are often associated with changing human health needs. For example, young people need more DHA for human growth including brain growth. It is even vital for the development of babies in the womb, which is why pregnant women should ensure DHA is in their diet.
On the other hand, EPA is most useful to the body during the ages of five to 65 years old. The body needs sufficient EPA levels to maintain proper health and to avoid health problems, such as depression, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
These three types of omega-3 fatty acids—EPA, DPA, and DHA—are different in terms of their chemical makeup and metabolism. In particular, scientists show that DPA plays a significant role in the body’s inflammation management.
Inflammation management describes how the body works to decrease pain and minimize inflammation, as part of a healthy immune system.
DPA is becoming increasingly popular in recent years, as consumers and researchers have identified the health benefits associated with this omega-3 fatty acid.
Originally, scientists found that high levels of DPA were present in the Intuit people, who show low levels of cardiovascular disease.
Of course, fish oil itself is one of the most popular supplements available on the market today. One study, which surveyed over 10,000 people who take supplements, found that 71.7% of respondents reported that they have taken fish oil. This was the most popular response.
It’s true that many consumers recognize EPA and DHA more commonly when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids. DPA is a lesser-known variety of fish oil. It makes up about 2% of the most common fish oils.
DPA has significant market potential, given its clear health benefits. Today, there is an increasing number of new chemical processes published in the field. Manufacturers are working with researchers to develop new products with DPA.
These developments are expected to progress even further, as consumers recognize the health benefits associated with DPA.