The human diet has undergone a considerable change during the last century or so.
And one of the significant changes has been an incredible increase in dietary fat, and not necessarily the good kind.
In fact, the inclination has been to increase the intake of saturated fats and trans-fats while neglecting to keep up the required consumption of unsaturated fats.
DHA is one such long-chain, polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acid (PUFA) primarily sourced from fish in the diet.
Such dietary and other environmental changes are considered to be among the significant causes of diet-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
Including the recommended amounts of DHA into the diet can help correct imbalances in the modern diet.
Studies show that diets high in DHA can help with brain and eye development, prevent cardiovascular disease, and may even be beneficial for treating conditions like Alzheimer’s.
But what do we know about DHA?
How Does It Work?
DHA is a key component of all cell membranes and is present in abundance in the brain and retina.
This makes DHA essential for neurological and visual development, and supplementation is believed to enhance brain function and vision even in children.
In the brain, 15-20% of the cerebral cortex is DHA while the retina is 30-60% DHA.
To understand the working mechanism of DHA, you first need to know something about a type of lipid molecule called phospholipids.
Phospholipids are a combination of lipids or fats and phosphorous.
There are three primary types, and the body can’t function normally without them. In fact, they are critical for brain health and help with communication among brain cells, especially how neuroreceptors work.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) encases every one of the brain’s cells and helps maintain the fluidity and permeability of brain cells. This phospholipid contains the highest concentrations of DHA and makes about 70% of neuron tissue mass.
- Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) is another phospholipid that contains high DHA levels. It is a part of neuron cell membranes and is involved in neural signaling.
- Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a third type of phospholipid in the brain and is part of the neuron tissue mass. It contains lower levels of DHA but helps in maintaining cell structure, fat metabolism, neuron signaling, and enzyme activation.
Together these three phospholipids influence the fluidity of cell membranes. This mechanism can alter its permeability and protein activity.
This, in turn, influences cellular signaling. The DHA content in the cell membranes regulates entry in the cells, reduces inflammation along with maintaining enzymatic activity that controls electric signaling between and within cells.
Any deficiency of DHA in brain cells can easily trigger problems with memory, attention, and learning.
The same may also lead to depression, anxiety, anger, aggression, and debilitating conditions like Bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia.
DHA is taken up by the brain in preference to other fatty acids, and its turnover is speedy. This makes it crucial to supplement adequate amounts of DHA for the optimal health and normal functioning of the brain in all ages.
It is critical for the growth and development of the growing brain in infants.
It is equally essential for maintaining healthy cognitive functioning when young and as people transition into old age.
1. DHA Improves Neurotransmission
DHA is a major structural component of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that handles language, memory, emotions, creativity, and attention.
It also has a part to play in cellular communication within the brain. 
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that carry out the signaling and messaging involved. In this regard, DHA supports ideal levels of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, and GABA.
At the same time, it also boosts the number of neurotransmitter receptors, which allow the brain to use these brain chemicals optimally.
2. DHA Promotes Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is the term used to define the brain’s ability to change the structure.
This can include the internal structure of the neurons as well as an increase in the number of synapses between them.
Such neuroplasticity helps the brain build new neural pathways, which can help optimize neural signaling and cognition.
DHA seems to encourage such neuroplasticity by assisting in developing new pathways.
3. DHA Offers Neuroprotection
Cerebrovascular diseases sometimes involve blood vessels supplying the brain.
When these pathways become narrowed or blocked, they can severely restrict blood flow to the brain, raising the risk for a stroke.
The effects of phospholipids on membrane fluidity, cell signaling, and gene transcription can modulate the development and progression of a stroke. 
Some, though not all studies indicate that frequent fish consumption may alleviate the risk of ischemic stroke.
Omega 3s may also reduce other stroke-related risk factors like high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profile, arrhythmias, and atherosclerotic processes.
DHA, in particular, seems to have a lot to do with recovery after stroke by helping re-establish blood flow to the affected area.
Animal studies have shown that at 24 hours, mice treated with DHA have a significant reduction in brain injury.
The injected mice also presented increased concentrations of DHA in their mitochondria.
Findings suggest that injecting DHA after stroke-like events hold the potential to protect brain mitochondria against free radical damage.
Clinical studies are needed to determine if administering DHA after a stroke-like injury will offer the same neuroprotective effects for humans. 
4. DHA Activates BDNF
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the brain’s growth hormone. It’s a protein responsible for producing new brain cells and strengthening existing ones.
Some of its other benefits also include easing depression, boosting weight loss, and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.
As a person gets older, their BDNF levels start to decline naturally. In terms of dietary options, DHA can turn on the brain’s BDNF.
And when you pair DHA supplementation with exercise, the effects seem to multiply manifold. 
The link between BDNF and exercise has been known for some time now, and when you add in foods that supplement the diet with DHA, it becomes easier to up your BDNF levels as well.
The other area where DHA seems very important is in supporting eye health. DHA accounts for more than one-third of the fatty acids found in the retina.
5. Developing Vision
The fetus absorbs significant amounts of DHA in the final trimester of pregnancy as well as in the initial months of infancy. As such, it is absolutely essential for retinal development.
For growing infants, breastmilk is a natural source of DHA. Some infant formulas also come fortified with DHA to support healthy vision.
An analysis of different studies showed that healthy pre-term infants fed DHA supplemented formula exhibited better visual clarity than others who were fed formula without the omega 3 supplements.
6. DHA Promotes Visual Acuity
Supplementing with DHA preserves healthy retinal function and lowers inflammation. Visual acuity refers to how well a person sees or the clarity of their vision.
The first study investigating the impact of DHA on vision in normal healthy adults reported a 4% improvement in visual acuity after 90 days of supplementing with DHA.
The study worked with 74 healthy participants who were tested for visual acuity, among other outcomes. Findings that 90-day DHA supplementation can improve visual acuity in people with corrected vision and those free of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are promising.
It also warrants further investigation in this area. 
7. DHA Helps With Dry Eye Syndrome
If you want to maintain good vision and eye comfort, the front surface of the eye must be covered with an even layer of tears containing the right balance of oils and water.
Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic and progressive condition where there are insufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.
The results felt can range from subtle but constant eye irritation to significant inflammation.
Research looking into the benefits of DHA has seen fewer dry eye symptoms in individuals who take a supplement. This indicates that supplementation can improve the eyes’ oil film and reduce symptoms.
Also, based on animal data and preliminary human studies, DHA and its derivatives seem to be a safe and effective topical treatment for dry eye patients. 
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of irreversible vision loss in adults and treatment options are fairly limited. However, several observational studies indicate that consuming oily fish that increase DHA intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing AMD.
Chronic inflammation contributes to the development of AMD. DHA-dense foods can counter this, given their anti-inflammatory potential.
Plus, its anti-angiogenic properties can also help.
Anti-angiogenic is a substance’s ability to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). The course of abnormal angiogenesis contributes to the developing wet macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. 
Individual dosage recommendations will vary based on a person’s current DHA level.
People who include about 8 ounces of seafood a week will have a lower need for supplementation.
Expectant women are also recommended to consume at least 8 ounces of seafood, preferably those with low mercury content.
The recommended guidelines for DHA consumption are around 1000 mg a day.
If you need to take it for cardiovascular conditions, then stay between the 300-600 mg mark daily. Pregnant women can choose between 300-900 mg daily in supplemental form.
For cognitive benefits, experts recommend taking between 900- 1700 mg a day.
Supplements are available as either fish oil capsules, which have both DHA and EPA, another omega 3 fatty acid, one that caters more to heart health rather than the brain.
However, some manufacturers now also offer capsules that are exclusively refined DHA.
Another supplementary source is DHA from algae, which has no EPA and is vegetarian-friendly. Algal DHA is a viable option for anyone allergic to seafood or those who have dietary preferences.
Besides, fish source their DHA from consuming smaller fish that eventually source their DHA from algae as they move down the food chain.
So, by sourcing algal DHA, you’re only getting it from the source and eliminating the intermediary agent.
Another advantage of DHA from algae is that it may be contaminated less with pollutants like mercury.
DHA Side Effects
DHA supplements are typically safe but may cause some side effects like digestive discomfort.
They may increase blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics and impact the effectiveness of diabetes medication.
DHA can also decrease blood pressure, so avoid taking it with blood pressure medication.
Also, fish oil supplements should not be taken with blood-thinning medications.
Where To Buy DHA?
If you decided on supplementing DHA, there are 2 great options I’d recommend to you:
- Either get it as a part of more advanced supplement stack such as Qualia Mind (read more about Qualia here)
- Get it here as an individual supplement
One way or another, you’ll consume a high-quality DHA.
My vote goes to Qualia Mind of course. Why? Because it’s one of the most effective nootropic stacks on the market that will ensure you achieve optimal cognitive performance.
Keep in mind Qualia Mind contains a staggering 28 nootropics.
So if you are serious about hacking your cognitive performance (and you want to get DHA), then you can order Qualia here >>
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