I recently switched from fish oil capsules to liquid fish oil from a bottle. While I found the capsules very convenient, a friend suggested that taking fish oil by the tablespoon is relatively palatable, and much less expensive. I have also switched to fish oils with higher concentrations of the Omega-3s, but I noticed that the bottled fish oil comes in various DHA to EPA ratios. I was unsure about which ratio to choose, although I suspected that DHA is more important, and required in the body in greater quantities than EPA. This is because it amounts to 25% to 30% of the human brain. It turns out that there are alternate theories regarding this question. I have decided that fish oil with a high EPA ratio works better for me, although I find the taste of products with a EPA ratio above 3:1 are not as easy to swallow.
The optimum ratio likely varies from person to person, depending on a person’s metabolism and nutrition history, as well as any ongoing health problems. See for example the posting at http://www.buzzle.com/articles/epa-dha-ratio.html, which notes that high DHA intake may be helpful for certain diseases. “Research has shown that fish oil and fish oil supplements that are high in DHA and relatively low in EPA had a tendency to lower the inflammatory cytokines in the body, such as IL-6 and IL-1β. These are the cytokines that are associated with neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases in humans. Furthermore, it has been seen that the brain normally contains very high amounts of DHA but practically no EPA. Furthermore, there are certain neurological conditions that are associated with very low levels of DHA in the body. These include dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolarity disorders, etc.” On the other hand, a high EPA ratio may be appropriate for conditions like diabetes. The posting notes that ”it has been found that EPA is a precursor to DHA. This is the reason why ensuring a sufficient level of EPA on a diet containing neither EPA nor DHA is harder for absorption because of the extra metabolic work required to synthesize EPA and because of the use of EPA to metabolize DHA. There are also certain medical conditions, like diabetes or certain allergies that may significantly limit the body’s capacity for metabolizing EPA from alpha linoleic acid.”
Jason Kaczynski has many Fish oil Ezine articles on the Ezine articles website. His article on the EPA to DHA Ratio [http://ezinearticles.com/?EPA-DHA-Ratio---Whats-an-Ideal-EPA-and-DHA-Ratio-in-a-Fish-Oil-Supplement?&id=2424474] states that DHA omega-3 fatty acids are recognized as a physiologically essential nutrient in the brain and retina. They are required in high concentrations for providing optimal mental performance (cognitive function, memory, focus, learning ability, etc.) and visual acuity. EPA (even though it’s not as important as DHA) plays an important role in regulating blood flow and maintaining a healthy heart and cardiac system. As far as the EPA DHA ratio of a fish oil supplement goes, aim to look for a brand that has about 2 to 3 times more DHA and EPA. (DHA intake is linked to decreased periodontal disease – see http://www.diet-blog.com/10/stop_gum_disease_with_omega-3s.php.)
However, an alternate post supports a high EPA ratio, particularly with regard to the issue of alleviating depression [ http://www.depressionforums.org/forums/topic/21756-fishoil-omega-3-best-ratio-of-epa-to-dha-for-lifting-moods/%5D which states the following: ”The alternative view is that the optimal EPA to DHA ratio is 7:1. This is claimed by some websites, and they claim that it is proven that this ratio is more effective. ”Many healthcare professionals recommend this 7:1 ratio, which is the highest in the industry.” ”A competition mechanism means DHA prevents EPA being completely assimilated and used (Horrobin, 2002), while by contrast, the body can transform EPA into DHA as required. ” ”It appears that EPA – rather than DHA – is beneficial for depression. Because DHA and EPA are relatively small in [molecular] structure and may compete with one other for binding sites [in the cell membranes], Horrobin (personal comunication) suggests that mixed EPA/DHA formulations may be much less effective than pure EPA preparations contaning the same absolute amount of EPA.”
I do take very high amounts of fish oil, so my experience may not be typical. However, my initial experience has been that I noticed increased fatigue while taking fish oil with a low ratio of EPA to DHA of 675 to 1350 mg per tsp. These days I am taking fish oil with an EPA to DHA ratio of 1640 to 820 mg per tsp (2:1 ratio, 3 tablespoons per day, Trophic Pure essential High Potency EPA Fish Oil), and 3 tablespoons of the Ascenta NutraSea HP (3:1 ratio).