What is DHA?

We all could use more brain power. We want to be at our sharpest on the job, at school and in our relationships. There are many paths to gaining more smarts, and most people want the quickest and easiest way. Fish has long been considered a brain food, particularly fatty fish such as salmon, cod, mackerel and albacore. Studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish can lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.1 [link to: ]

So how do we go about incorporating more foods and supplements in our diet that can rev up our mental prowess? The scientific community says we can do this by consuming fish oil supplements, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The three main essential fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is derived from plants, while EPA and DHA come from fish. DHA can be converted into EPA in the body. Medical experts say docosahexaenoic acid is one of the major building blocks of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin and retina. Researchers say this omega-3 fatty acid is vital for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants and required for maintenance of normal brain function in adults.

  • DHA provides brain-boosting benefits
  • DHA is vital for growth and development of infants
  • DHA is thought to slow mental decline in the elderly
  • Prevent age-related vision loss with DHA
How does DHA boost brain power?

DHA is a major structural component of brain tissue. Scientists say that this fatty acid has an important influence on neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps brain cells communicate with each other more effectively. Research shows that babies with low levels of docosahexaenoic acid in their diet demonstrated reduced brain development and diminished visual perception. Another astonishing observation with babies and DHA is that breastfed infants showed increased intelligence as compared with those who were fed formula. It is thought that the DHA content of human milk played a large part in that enhanced intellect.2

DHA and infant development

Scientists set out to examine the growth and development of infants fed infant formulas containing docosahexaenoic acid. They studied 361 pre-term infants over a four-month period, and the babies were given either DHA from fish oil or fungal oil. The outcomes the researchers were looking for included growth, tolerance, adverse events and development scores. The results of the study were pretty impressive.

The scientists concluded that the DHA-fed groups had higher mental and psychomotor development scores than did the control group. The fish oil supplements did not increase morbidity or have any adverse effects on the infants.3.

DHA improves cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s disease

As we grow older, we may experience age-related memory loss, or the more serious conditions of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Clinical Research Department, Martek Biosciences Corporation in Columbia, Maryland set out to discover if docosahexaenoic acid has a beneficial effect on patients experiencing age-related cognitive decline (ARCD). They tested 485 healthy subjects, aged 55 and higher, with ARCD.

The participants were given 900 mg a day of DHA or a placebo for a period of 24 weeks.

The study concluded that supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid improved learning and memory function in ARCD patients and is a beneficial supplement that supports cognitive health with aging.4


Preserve your vision with docosahexaenoic acid

Memory isn’t the only thing to decline as we get up in years. Scientists say that our eyesight can weaken with age. It’s important to preserve our vision while we are able to do so, before the damage is done. Researchers say docosahexaenoic acid can help prevent age-related retinal decline. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye that allows us to perceive the visual world.

A study at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Alberta, Canada tested laboratory mice to determine if docosahexaenoic acid could curb retina diseases associated with advancing age. The subjects were fed a DHA-rich diet or a diet without DHA over a period of one to 18 months. At the end of the study, the team of researchers determined that docosahexaenoic acid supplementation was associated with preserved retina function and prevention of age-related functional losses.5

DHA is effective for lowering high blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which the arteries have persistently elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, medical professionals say it can lead to damaged organs, as well as kidney failure, aneurysm, heart failure, stroke or heart attack. Researchers at the Nutritional Sciences Research Division, King’s College in London say that docosahexaenoic acid lowers diastolic blood pressure in middle-aged men and women. They studied 38 healthy men and women, aged 40 to 65 years, for a period of three months, and participants were given DHA or a placebo. At the conclusion of the trial, a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure was noted. The supplements were well tolerated and blood counts and liver function tests remained within normal ranges over the course of the study.6

OmegaMx is a highly concentrated fish oil supplement containing the maximum strength of DHA and EPA.

Docosahexaenoic acid may be a tongue twister but the health benefits of this essential omega-3 fatty acid are plain to see. In addition to treating the above conditions, scientists say DHA has a positive effect on disorders such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, depression, adult-onset diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, thrombosis and some cancers.7


Although DHA is beneficial on its own, research has shown that the combination of DHA and EPA can’t be beat for optimal health. Nourish your brain, fight inflammation and protect your eyesight with high quality fish oil supplements that are rich in these essential omega-3 fatty acids.


References

  1. http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/01/brain-food-eating-fish-may-lower-your-risk-of-alzheimers/
  2. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/dha/dha-brain-food
  3. http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476%2804%2901117-5/abstract
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20434961
  5. http://www.iovs.org/content/53/4/2256.full
  6. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/4/973.full
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10479465
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