DHA Background and Benefits
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is also commonly known as cervonic acid. Its chemical name is all-cis-docosa-4,7,10,13,16,19-hexa-enoic acid, which has the shorthand name 22:6(n-3).
DHA is directly available through the diet, primarily from fish oil and breast milk. Microalgae such as Crypthecodinium cohnii synthesize DHA, which becomes highly concentrated in animals at the top of the food chain. These microalgae are also the primary commercial source of DHA.
Fatty fish are the most abundant sources of DHA, which primarily includes cold-water ocean fish. Cooked salmon is one of the best sources, with a concentration of up to 1,500 mg per 100-gram serving. Other fish with high DHA levels include anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel and sardines.
DHA can also be biosynthesized from alpha-linolenic acid, which is a shorter omega-3 fatty acid that is readily available from many dietary sources. The need to synthesize DHA is most common in herbivores and carnivores that don’t eat marine animals. Humans may also rely on biosynthesized DHA, especially if they are strict vegetarians.
The greatest concentration of DHA in humans is in the brain, especially the cerebral cortex. DHA is also an essential component of other tissues such as the retina, skin and testicles.
Uses of DHA
The most significant benefits of DHA supplements deal with the cardiovascular system. Additional benefits include support for the eyes and brain health.
Eye health support
DHA may help support eye health and function from conditions that often occur with age.
Healthy cholesterol level management
Current research suggests that DHA may help support a healthy cholesterol profile. The dosages researched for this use of DHA were in the range of 1.2 to 4 grams per day.
Brain health support
DHA may help support the brain’s ability to manage a healthy level of neuroplasticity. This property allows the brain to rearrange existing neural connections while creating new ones. DHA may also be able to help support memory recall.
Oral DHA supplements may help support healthy circulation.
Signs You May Need DHA
The most common signs of a DHA deficiency affect the nervous and cardiovascular systems. It may result in inadequate amounts of myelin sheathing around the nerve cells, which can cause a range of conditions such as attention deficit disorder. Low DHA levels are also associated with low moods, since omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of the neurotransmitter serotonin. You may also need DHA if you have an unhealthy cholesterol profile.
Other Ingredients That May Be Of Interest
EPA - Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is also known as icosapentaenoic acid. It is an omega-3 fatty acid that may be able to help support healthy inflammation management.
DPA - Docosapentaeonic acid (DPA) is structurally similar to EPA, except that DPA has two more carbon units. The support of healthy inflammation management is one of the most effective uses of DPA.