DHA

(docosahexaenoic acid)

DHA is a long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid found in cold water, oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, herrings and salmon. DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid and is found in high concentrations in the brain and retina. The brain is 60% fat, and DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain.

What it does

  1. Brain Development:
    DHA, omega-3 fatty acid is the primary building block of the brain and is one of the critical nutrients required during the early stages of development. DHA is also necessary to properly care for the brain throughout life. DHA is vital throughout pregnancy. In the first few weeks of embryonic development when brain cell division is most active, a mother’s blood needs to supply the foetus with large amounts of DHA. A continual supply of DHA is needed for the full-term of the pregnancy, as the DHA content of the cerebrum and cerebellum increases 3-fold during the last trimester.
  2. Eye Development:
    DHA is also required for visual development as it comprises about 60% of the rod outer segments of the retina. The percentage of DHA in retinal tissue increases rapidly in the last half of pregnancy. Cell membranes of the retina and visual cortex, highly enriched in DHA, form rapidly during the last trimester, which is the period of most rapid eye development. Adequate dietary intake of DHA is therefore essential.
  3. Mental Performance:
    Low levels of DHA have been linked to changes in mood, memory and vision.
  4. Attention deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
    Children diagnosed as ADHD generally have low essential fatty acid levels and exhibit symptoms of fatty acid deficiency including hyperactivity and short attention span.

Potential Uses

Eye health Brain development Depression
ADHD Learning difficulties Alzheimers disease
High blood pressure Stress Rheumatoid arthritis

Cautions

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with DHA.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using DHA.

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