Wednesday, September 14, 2022

History of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is one of several omega-3 fatty acids. It is found in cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon. It is also found in fish oil supplements, along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

In 1929 and 1930, a husband-and-wife team published two papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that turned the notion on its head. Through meticulous analyses of rats fed special diets, George and Mildred Burr discovered that fatty acids were critical to health.

Omega-3 fatty acid research really started to pick up the pace with the Greenland Eskimos in the 1970s. During the 1970’s, Jørn Dyerberg traveled with Professor H.O. Bang, Professor Hugh Sinclair and others to Greenland to study Inuit eating habits. Specifically, they investigated high fish and shellfish consumption among the Inuit.

Jorn Dyerberg and Hans Bang documented the Eskimo diet, along with their plasma lipid profiles and blood fatty acid levels. It was in these studies that they “discovered” omega-3 fatty acids – in both the diets and blood.

The Lancet July 15, 1978 published their work that hypothesized that EPA could reduce risk for thrombosis and atherosclerosis. They presented data supporting the idea that EPA (from the seafoods consumed by these Inuit people) could substitute for arachidonic acid in the cyclo-oxygenase pathway in platelets and reduce platelet “stickiness.”

The study linked a diet rich in omega-3 fish oils with heart health, something Jorn Dyerberg and his colleague, Dr. Hans Olaf Bang, discovered while researching an Inuit population on the coast of Greenland. Since this revelation, the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have been confirmed by hundreds of other clinical studies.

Since then, that hypothesis has been well-confirmed and other beneficial mechanisms have been discovered as well. More than 40 years later, omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA, are considered to be one of the, if not the, most researched nutrients.
History of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

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