DHA + EPA for Other Health Benefits and Chronic Disorders

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There is mounting peer-reviewed literature evidence from numerous population (epidemiological) studies and controlled clinical interventional trials to indicate that DHA and/or DHA/EPA (combined) may be of considerable benefit in the development of, retarding the progress of, or helping manage (in a complementary way) a number of chronic disorders in addition to its now accepted role in protection in cardiovascular disease/outcomes and associated risk factors. The mounting evidence for other chronic disorders includes research showing significantly lower levels of DHA and/or DHA/EPA in blood biomarkers for omega-3 status in the body, correlational population evidence which has related chronic disease incidence and progression with DHA/EPA intakes, and direct interventional trials using DHA-enriched sources or DHA/EPA mixtures consumed in the form of fish, supplements, or functional foods enriched with these important omega-3 fatty acids. The levels of DHA/EPA (combined) which have been consumed per day in these diverse short-term or long-term studies range from a few hundred mg per day up to gram quantities.

Several neurological/behavioral disorders have been suggested to be associated with depressed levels of DHA or DHA plus EPA combined. These include the neurological disorders of depression (including post-partum depression), Alzheimer's disease, behavioral disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and hyperactivity, as well as developmental coordination disorder. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, certain skin disorders, gastrointestinal disorders (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn's disease) have been found to be improved in a large number of studies to varying degrees with DHA plus EPA supplementation when added as a complementary intervention to standard pharmaceutical treatment regimens. While review of total cancer risk (all forms) has not shown a significant benefit or detriment of consuming higher levels of DHA plus EPA, there is evidence from large epidemiological studies to suggest that these omega-3 fatty acids (unlike ALA) may be of benefit in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Population studies have also revealed apparent benefits of consuming fish containing DHA plus EPA in a wide variety of conditions based on the limited number of studies reported to date including chronic eye conditions (cataracts, dry eye), epilepsy, allergic sensitivity in very young children, pneumonia, lung/breathing capacity and chronic pulmonary disorders, plus other conditions recently reported including bone health, fibromyalagia, etc. Detailed information on the levels of DHA and/or DHA plus EPA consumed per day, the duration of these studies, and the magnitude of the apparent benefits provided will be covered in more detail upon reviewing the peer-reviewed published research in the Health Disorder Database.


Holub, B.J. Docosahexaenoic acid in human health. Chapter in: Shahidi, F. and Finley, J.W. (eds.), Omega-3 Fatty Acid Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health Effects. ( Washington DC , American Chemical Society, 2001) Chapter 5, p 54-65.

Leitzmann, F. et al . Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 80(1): 204-216, 2004.

Lu, M. et al. Dietary fat intake and early age-related lens opacities. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 81: 773-779, 2005.