DHA, short for docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is found in abundance in oily fish, including salmon, herring and anchovies.
Our bodies can only produce small amounts of DHA from other fatty acids. This is why people have to rely on supplements to meet their daily recommended intake of DHA.
DHA combined with EPA, which is another omega-3 fatty acid, can improve heart and brain health, along with reducing inflammation and preventing chronic illnesses.
1. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Omega-3 fatty acids are popular for reducing risk of heart disease.
Most of the studies conducted on DHA are not solely focusing on its effects alone. Instead, they are focusing on the combined effects of DHA and EPA.
However, the few studies that have focused solely on DHA’s relation to reducing risk of heart disease have all concluded that it is more effective than EPA.
According to this study conducted on 152 overweight people, taking 2.7 grams of DHA for 10 weeks increased the omega-3 index — a blood marker directly associated with reduced risk of sudden heart failure deaths — by 5.6%.
In comparison, the same dose of EPA increased the omega-3 index by only 3.3%.
Furthermore, DHA also outdid EPA at:
- Reducing blood triglycerides
- Raising HDL “good” cholesterol levels
2. Can Reduce Symptoms of ADHD
If you didn’t know already, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) generally starts in childhood and is characterized by impulsive behaviors and having a hard time concentrating.
According to multiple recent studies, ADHD patients often have lower blood levels of DHA.
In this recent review, 7 out of 9 studies found out that taking DHA supplements can significantly improve the symptoms of ADHD, including mood and behavior.
According to this 16-week study in 362 children, those who took 600 milligrams of DHA daily had an 8% decrease in impulsive behavior as rated by their parents.
In comparison, the placebo group had only a 4% decrease in impulsive behavior.
3. Reduces Risk of Early Preterm Births
In case you didn’t already know, delivering a baby before 34 weeks of pregnancy is considered an early preterm birth — which increases the baby’s risk of health problems.
This analysis found out that pregnant women ingesting 600-800 milligrams of DHA daily reduced their risk of early preterm birth by 40% in the United States and 64% in Australia, as compared to those taking a placebo.
That is why it’s crucial for women to take DHA supplements daily during pregnancy.
Health Issues Associated With DHA Deficiency
People deficient in DHA face an increased risk of suffering from several health issues, among which the most notables ones are the following:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer
- Acute inflammation
- Early preterm birth
- Heart disease
So if you want to save yourself the discomfort caused by the health problems mentioned above, then add a DHA supplement to your diet.
Daily Recommended Intake
The daily recommended intake of DHA is between 72 to 312 milligrams. However, if you’re trying to treat a condition, then the recommended amount changes.
For instance, to lower cholesterol levels, 0.8 to 4 grams of DHA should be taken daily for 6-8 weeks.
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