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Grilled Wild Salmon - DHAFatty fish such as mackerel, tuna and wild salmon are excellent sources of docosahexaenoic acid. There is less DHA in farmed fish. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Markets.





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July 2011

Product Reviews / NutriNibbles

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Docosahexaenoic Acid

Page 2: What Is It, Why Do You Need It?


This is Page 2 of a three-page article Click on the black links below to visit other pages.



Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

What Is DHA?
DHA, an essential fatty acid, is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid and the most abundant omega-3 in the brain and retina. It accounts for 97% of the omega-3s in the brain and 93% of the omega-3s in the retina. DHA is found in:

  • Fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel*
  • Eggs (minimal DHA content)
  • DHA-fortified products
  • Breast milk (DHA is added to more than 99% of U.S. infant formulas)

*Expert bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, American Heart Association and many states have issued advisories on the consumption of certain fish due to the environmental pollutants and toxins found in them.

What Does DHA Do?

  • Brain & Eyes. DHA is an important structural component of the nerve cells in the brain and eyes/
  • Heart Health. DHA is a key component of heart tissue and one of the omega-3 fats recommended by the American Heart Association and the USDA for good cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular research indicates that 1.0-1.5 grams per day of DHA decreases triglyceride levels and heart rate, and improves blood vessel function.
  • Anti-Inflammatory. DHA also plays a key role in the anti-inflammatory process.
  • Pre-Natal Development. Research shows that DHA is important for the mental and visual development in infants. A higher DHA supply to the infant during pregnancy and nursing has been associated with a positive effect on the development of vision, brain function, attention and maturity of sleep patterns. During pregnancy, DHA supports maternal health and promotes a full term gestational age (37 to 42 weeks).
  • Neurological Function. A scientific review of DHA stressed the significant role that DHA plays in the maintenance of normal neurological function. Low levels of DHA have been associated with the increased risk for a variety of neurological disorders. DHA, not EPA or ALA, is associated with slowing normal age related cognitive decline.

Both DHA and ALA can be converted by the body into EPA.


Continue To Page 3: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)

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