Eicosapentaenoic Acid




Eicosapentaenoic acid is a fatty acid found in the flesh of cold-water fish, including mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber.

Eicosapentaenoic acid is taken by mouth for some heart-related conditions including clogged heart arteries (coronary artery disease), to prevent or treat heart attacks, and to reduce levels of blood fats called triglycerides in people with very high levels. It is also used for some mental conditions including schizophrenia, personality disorder, Alzheimer's disease, depression, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to prevent loss of vision that occurs in older people (age-related macular degeneration; AMD), for psoriasis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes. Eicosapentaenoic acid is also used for lung cancer, prostate cancer, to help maintain body weight in people with cancer, and to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy in people with cancer.

Women use eicosapentaenoic acid to reduce symptoms of menopause, to reduce high blood pressure during high-risk pregnancies, and to reduce the risk of an infant having delayed growth while still in the uterus.

Eicosapentaenoic acid is used in combination with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fish oil preparations for a variety of conditions, including preventing and reversing heart disease, and decreasing irregular heartbeats; as well as asthma, cancer, menstrual problems, hot flashes, hay fever, lung diseases, lupus, and kidney disease caused by an immune reaction. The combination is also used for migraine headache prevention in adolescents, skin infections, Behçet's syndrome, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, psoriasis, Raynaud's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Eicosapentaenoic acid is used in combination with RNA and L-arginine after surgery to reduce infections, improve wound healing, and shorten recovery time. It is also used in combination with another fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid, for high blood pressure.

Eicosapentaenoic acid is given intravenously (by IV), along with DHA, for psoriasis.

Don't confuse eicosapentaenoic acid with similar fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid and DHA, as well as with oils like krill or fish oils, which contain both eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Most available data involving eicosapentaenoic acid are from research and clinical experience with fish oil products containing variable combinations of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. For more information, see the separate listings for Alpha-Linolenic Acid, DHA, Fish Oil, and Krill Oil.

How it works

Eicosapentaenoic acid can prevent the blood from clotting easily. These fatty acids also reduce pain and swelling.


Likely Effective
High levels of blood fats called triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia)

Research shows that taking a specific product containing eicosapentaenoic acid as ethyl eicosapentaenoic acid (Vascepa by Amarin) by mouth along with dieting and cholesterol-lowering drugs called "statins" reduces levels of triglycerides in people with very high levels. It might also improve cholesterol levels. This product is FDA-approved in adults with very high triglyceride levels.


Likely safe

Eicosapentaenoic acid is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken appropriately. It is usually well tolerated. Some people, however, can experience side effects such as nausea; diarrhea; heartburn; skin rash; itching; nosebleed; and joint, back, and muscle pain. Fish oils containing eicosapentaenoic acid can cause fishy taste, belching, nosebleeds, nausea, and loose stools. Taking eicosapentaenoic acid with meals can often decrease these side effects

Possibly unsafe

When used in amounts greater than 3 grams per day, eicosapentaenoic acid is POSSIBLY UNSAFE, and can thin the blood and increase the risk for bleeding.



Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about using of eicosapentaenoic acid duringpregnancyandbreast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.Are there any interactions with medications?

Aspirin-sensitivity: If you are sensitive to aspirin, eicosapentaenoic acid might affect your breathing.

High blood pressure: Eicosapentaenoic acid might lower blood pressure. In people who are already taking medications to lower their blood pressure, adding eicosapentaenoic acid might make blood pressure drop too low. If you have high blood pressure, discuss using eicosapentaenoic acid with your healthcare provider, before you start taking it.


No information available.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional.