DHA is one of the key omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is the other.
What are its health benefits?
Although the body doesn’t produce these fatty acids, DHA is essential for your health including your brain and heart function, and the development of your eyes and nervous system.
Interestingly, it is found naturally in breast milk and is commonly used in prenatal vitamins to boost its levels in pregnant women and their unborn babies.
In combination with EPA, its other benefits could include:
- Boosts the development of premature babies and it’s added to formula milk to aid mental development.
- It’s essential for eye and brain development in infants, brain and eye development in children, and brain, eye and heart health in adults.
- It improves learning ability.
- During pregnancy, DHA is a much-needed supplement for the mother and the foetus’s cognitive development.
- It’s used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD), Type 2 diabetes, dementia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and has a positive effect on hypertension, arthritis, atherosclerosis, thrombosis, cardiac arrhythmias and depression.
- Studies have shown that it could help reduce sudden death from a heart attack (myocardial infarction) – that is, it reduces the incidence by approximately 50 percent with 200 mg per day of DHA from fish.
- Combats cancer by decreasing the proliferation of tumour cells.
Do you have a deficiency?
Docosahexaenoic acid deficiencies are associated with:
- Deficits in learning
- Cognitive decline during aging, including onset of Alzheimer’s disease
- Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Phenylketonuria (a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disability and other serious health problems)
- Adrenoleukodystrophy (a genetic disorder that mainly affects the nervous system and adrenal glands)
Find it in these foods
Its food sources include the following oily fish:
It’s also found in fish oil and cod liver oil supplements.
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
You should try to eat oily fish at least twice a week.
When it comes to supplements, researchers recommend you supplement your diet with 500mg of EPA plus DHA daily. People with suffer from heart disease should aim for nearly twice that amount, that is, 800 to 1000mg daily. However, first consult your Clicks pharmacist or doctor about the recommended dosage.
Know the overdose risks
If you ingest too much DHA, its side effects include nausea, intestinal gas, bruising and prolonged bleeding as it thins the blood.
Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.
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