EPA vs GLA: What’s the difference?

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EPA and GLA are both beneficial to health, but EPA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in shellfish and seeds, while GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable and essential oils. Both are important in a healthy diet, and supplements may be necessary for those not getting enough. A 2:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is recommended, and consulting a nutritionist is advised before taking supplements.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) are very similar acids in structure and property, and both can be beneficial to a person’s health. EPA, however, is an omega-3 fatty acid, while GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid. Both are polyunsaturated fatty acids, but EPA is more commonly found in shellfish, some sprouts and seeds, and GLA is more commonly found in vegetable and essential oils.

An omega-3 acid is so named because of the carbon-carbon double bond at the n-3 position, or third level, of the chemical structure. Omega-6, on the other hand, has this carbon-carbon bond at the n-6 position. Three small steps may not sound like much, but they can make a big difference within chemical structures.

Both EPA and GLA are important to humans as part of their diet. EPA has been shown to have beneficial effects on conditions such as schizophrenia and depression, and may help treat asthma and arthritis. Studies on GLA have shown that the fatty acid treats eczema, autoimmune disorders, and even premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Most nutritionists believe that a healthy diet should contain a 2:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which means that a person should absorb twice as much omega-6 as omega-3. However, many people get about 1/5 the amount of omega-3s as they should and end up with a ratio closer to 15:1.

There are supplements on many markets for EPA and GLA separately, and more have started to emerge that contain both acids. The use of these supplements may be beneficial for those who do not get enough EPA and GLA through their diets or for vegetarians who may get enough GLA and not enough EPA. The type of supplement and the dosage you should take depends entirely on the person’s dietary health and other needs. Other sources may include flaxseed or spirulina, which contain EPA and GLA.

Omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 are very important for maintaining a healthy body and mind, so it’s important to understand where to get them and how much to get. It may be necessary for people to consult a professional nutritionist before choosing to take EPA and GLA supplements. A nutritionist can usually review a patient’s current health needs and prescribe a custom dose of EPA or GLA. Professionals also understand whether hazards may be present based on possible health conditions or medications an individual is taking and can advise the patient on how to proceed without causing harm to himself.

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