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In the 1970s, researchers began to realize that essential fatty acids from fish oil were beneficial. We can thank Greenland Eskimos for this discovery, because it was their high fat diet from cold water fish that made their low incidence of coronary artery disease so striking.
Two members of the omega-3 family of fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are particularly noted for their health promoting properties. DHA, in particular, plays a key role in the proper formation, development, and function of the brain, retina and central nervous system.
Hooray for DHA
DHA is selectively incorporated into the nerves, retina and gray matter of the brain all being tissues responsible for nerve transmission. In fact, DHA makes up about 40 % of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the brain and roughly 60 % in the retina. DHA is so important that the body is able to recognize it and transport it preferentially to the nervous system. There are even special mechanisms to allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier. The prevalence of DHA in brain cell membranes results in a powerful impact on the fluidity and function of cell membranes. DHA levels may also affect the capacity to regulate brain cell membrane proteins, which are critical to neuronal function.
DHA for Expecting Mothers and Newborns
DHA is essential for the proper neurological development of a growing fetus and infant. Our bodies are capable of producing some DHA from other omega-3 precursors, but what we are able to convert is only a small percentage of what is needed to promote optimum brain health and, in particular, brain development. Because of this developmental advantage to babies, DHA has found its way into breast milk via evolution. And of importance to modern mothers is research showing that increased maternal dietary intake of DHA leads to higher levels in breast milk. Consequently, sufficient intake of DHA during and after pregnancy is vitally important.
Some pediatricians suggest that maternal stores of DHA be augmented ideally as early as three months prior to conception to ensure an adequate supply for the fetus. Scientists have pointed to DHA as one reason why breast fed children tend to have higher IQ scores and better visual acuity than formula fed children. The evidence is substantial enough that infant formula manufacturers have begun adding DHA to their products.
DHA in Mental Health and Aging
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a term used to describe otherwise normal children who exhibit hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive behavior. Current studies indicate a possible link between essential fatty acid deficiencies and ADHD. Blood samples from children diagnosed as having ADHD, show significantly lower levels of several essential fatty acids, including DHA. Although research in this area continues, these preliminary findings further suggest DHAs importance in developing children.
Switching gears from young to old, aging leads to an increased risk in developing abnormal deposits in the brain and damage to brain-cell interconnections. This can lead to the deterioration of memory and the decreased ability to carry out daily tasks. DHA displayed some protection against both dendritic damage in one mouse model (Calon, 2004) and the accumulation of amyloid plaques in another (Quinn, 2007). Decreased DHA blood levels can also often be found in people experiencing age related cognitive impairment. Some research has suggested that supplemental DHA may even have some effects on mood, but other studies find no changes. The results are preliminary, but these potential effects seem logical given DHAs fundamental role in ensuring neuronal membrane fluidity and thereby facilitating cell function and communication.
DHA vs. Fish Oil
Typical omega 3 fish oil products usually contain higher concentrations of EPA and less DHA. Jarrow Formulas Max DHA is a special molecular distillate of fish oil that provides highly concentrated amounts of DHA along with EPA. Max DHA s molecular distillation process ensures the removal of harmful contaminants.
Max DHA delivers a high level of pure DHA and is ideal for enhancing brain function in all ages, but especially in children and seniors. Its your best value for this vitally essential fatty acid.
Usage and Safety
Overall, DHA from fish oil in supplement form is a relatively safe compound. Caution should be noted for anyone taking coumadin/ warfarin or any other type of oral blood thinner. In adults, the typical amount of fish oils that has been used in clinical studies ranges from 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day. In infants and children, the recommendation has been 40 mg / kg of body weight. Max DHA includes five mg of gamma tocopherol and two mg of ascorbyl palmitate for antioxidant protection of the long chain fatty acids from oxidative degradation, which causes rancidity.
No product offered for sale is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always seek advice from your professional healthcare provider before taking any medication. Always read the details and instructions on the label, keep the tub tightly sealed and out of the reach of children.