Did you know your brain is composed of nearly 60% fat? I don't know about you, but I want to make sure I feed my brain healthy fat--the omega-3 type.
There are two fatty acids essential for humans, and they’re known as omega-3 fatty acids. These beneficial omega 3’s are EPA and DHA. I’m here to tell you about DHA, which has so many benefits…where do I even begin?!
Let’s start with your brain.
DHA for your Brain
DHA is essential to brain function and is often called a “brain food.” Your brain is composed of nearly 60% fat and of that, 20% is in your cerebral cortex, the section of your brain responsible for learning, memory, and attention. DHA may also help slow the progression of age-related memory loss, including Alzheimer’s disease.
DHA and your Eyes
DHA is food for your eyes too! The retina of your eye contains a high concentration of DHA so consuming adequate amounts results in a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
DHA and Heart Health
DHA is very important for your heart and is shown to support healthy blood vessel function, a healthy heart rhythm, and reduce triglyceride levels. This is especially applicable to those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
DHA during Pregnancy, Lactation, and the Early Childhood
Last but certainly not least, DHA is critical during pregnancy and the first years of a child’s life. While pregnant, DHA is essential for development of that unborn baby’s brain, eyes, nervous system, and immune system. A child’s brain and body is developing at such a remarkable pace, and if you know how important DHA is for adults, just think about those children.
Along with benefits to babies and children, a pregnant mom taking fish oil reduces her risk of pre-term labor, pre-eclampsia, and possibly post-partum depression.
The easiest and most consistent way to get enough DHA is usually by taking a quality supplement. When you’re choosing this supplement, make sure you examine the nutrition label to know specifically how much DHA you are getting since a 1000 mg fish oil soft gel refers only to the size of the soft gel, not the level of DHA, which is very misleading. Quality fish oil is safe to take because toxins can be virtually eliminated during the manufacturing and processing of the fish oil. Always refrigerate your fish oil.
Bottom Line: Everyone benefits by consuming essential fatty acids, whether from fish or a fish oil supplement. If you take a supplement, ensure you’re purchasing a high-quality oil, free of contaminants, and from a reputable company.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods