DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)

Docosahexaenoic acid, or C22: 6n-3, DHA is a long-chain a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) enriched in phospholipids in the brain and retina, is known to play multi-functional roles in brain health and diseases.

The DHA molecule has unique structural properties that appear to provide optimal conditions for a wide range of cell membrane functions. This has particular implications for grey matter, which is membrane-rich tissue.

Along with EPA and n-3 DPA, DHA is found in fairly high amounts in seafood and products derived from seafood. DHA is almost exclusively present in significant amount in diverse seafood (fish, shellfish, micro- and macroalgae and even some mammals).

It has been proposed that was the incorporation of these seafoods to the human nutrition which marked a significant turning point in human evolution, a process that was characterized by the increase in size and complexity of the brain tissue and by the development of mental, behavioral and motor skills with strong cognitive components.

An important metabolic role for DHA has recently been identified as the precursor for resolvins and protectins.

The DHA found in the CNS is not produced de novo in mammals. Instead, it must be obtained from the diet or synthesized from the precursor fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3 n-3). From a pure nutrition perspective, ALA is the only omega-3 fatty acid that is defined as a dietary essential nutrient.

Pregnant women, who consumed fish oil rich in DHA (2.2 g DHA/day), from the 20th week of pregnancy until the partum, with no adverse effects, delivered children who showed significant better visual and coordination capacity. Arch.Dis.Child.Fetal Neonatal Ed.93 (2008)F45-F50

DHA is found in high concentrations in the human brain and eye, where it is linked to better development and function. Maintenance of DHA concentration is important throughout the life course, but pregnancy, lactation and infancy are vulnerable periods, where insufficient DHA supply can impact mental and visual development and performance.

It has been demonstrated that high plasma levels of DHA in the mother and particularly in breast milk, directly correlate with the better growth and development of the brain and visual system in children. Early Hum.Dev.4 (1980) 131-138
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)

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