Gender-specific effects of DHA and EPA: Yet another difference between men and women

In hyper-politically-correct US and UK governments, gender differences between women and men are always minimised. If it were possible, the politicians would outlaw ‘excess bladder infections’ among women as compared to men as ‘gender discrimination’, and the E. coli bacteria causing the problem would be fined and imprisoned… yes, I’m (partly) kidding.

But nature has a way of maintaining gender differences despite politicians. Just this year, researchers reported another difference that is of direct use to both men and women who want to reduce the risk of abnormal blood clotting and the strokes and even death that can result.

The two omega-3 fatty acids most often and prominently noted on the labels of bottles of fish oil and fish oil capsules are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The ability of DHA and EPA to affect the ability of platelets to ‘stick together’ (‘platelet aggregation’, for the technically inclined) was found to be gender-specific.

Here’s an excerpt from their research publication: “A blinded placebo controlled trial involving 15 male[s] and 15 female[s]… Platelet aggregation was measured at 0, 2, 5 and 24 hours post-supplementation with a single dose of… placebo or EPA or DHA rich oil capsules… EPA was significantly the most effective in reducing platelet aggregation in males at 2, 5 and 24 hours postsupplementation (-11%, -10.6%, -20.5% respectively) whereas DHA was… [not significantly different from] placebo. In contrast, in females, DHA significantly reduced platelet aggregation at 24 hours (-13.7%) while EPA was not effective…”1

In English, this means that for women, DHA works better than EPA, and for men it’s the opposite. How to remember? In non-politically correct, more polite times, my grandpa told me “women before men, not after”, and ‘D’ comes before ‘E’, so to lower the risk of abnormal blood clotting and stroke, it’s ‘D’ for the ladies, and ‘E’ for the guys!

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Editor
Nutrition & Healing

Volume 6, Issue 11 – November 2012


Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.

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