There are two essential omega 3’s that humans need, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is an essential part of brain cell membranes. DHA helps with brain function, memory and mood. It may play a role in the growth of new nerve cells and perhaps even help help with some forms of dementia. Low levels of DHA have been linked to memory loss, while diets high in omega-3s may help slow cognitive decline with age. Taking a DHA supplement while pregnant or breastfeeding can also support your baby’s growing brain.
DHA is a nootropic that can help with brain function, memory and mood. Nootropics are drugs, supplements and functional foods that improve mental performance. They can help you focus and concentrate, remember things more easily and even make you smarter. Nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Modern nootropic research has found that they can help with many brain-related issues, including:
• Supporting optimal cognitive function
• Improve your memory, attention span and even thought flow
• Could potentially work to increase your intelligence over the long term
While many nootropics help to support the function of the brain and its neurotransmitters, DHA is involved in your brain’s structure. DHA is a very beneficial supplement for brain health and it can be used alongside other nootropic supplements (this is sometimes called a “stack” of nootropics) for optimal brain function as you age.
DHA and Your Brain
You may have heard that fish is brain food. Fish (and fish oils) contain two key fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA. Both these fatty acids are components of cell membranes in the brain. While EPA is involved in reducing inflammation and supporting mood, DHA is responsible for the structure and function of your brain and is a building block for your brain and nervous system. Here are some benefits of taking EPA:
• Brain Function & Cognition: Diets high in omega-3s may help slow cognitive decline with age and prevent the brain from shrinking.
• Alzheimer’s Disease & Memory: When plasma DHA levels are too low, there is an increased risk of cognitive decline, whereas high intake of DHA is associated with a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. In a randomized controlled trial, subjects with age-related cognitive decline, daily supplementation of 900 milligrams per day was beneficial for memory scores. Researchers concluded that DHA is supportive of cognitive health.
• Learning & Attention Span: Studies have demonstrated that lowered levels of DHA lower dopamine, which can result in issues with learning and attention.
• Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder: Researchers found that children with ADHD and low levels of DHA had lower scores on tests of attention and learning than children who did not have ADHD.
• Depression & Mood: Depression has been linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. Studies suggest that increasing your intake of omega-3s (DHA in conjunction with EPA) may help prevent or treat depressive symptoms like sadness and irritability—especially if you’re already on medication to manage your mental health issues.
Additionally, DHA is a beneficial supplement for expecting and breastfeeding mothers, as it helps to promote healthy growth of the brain.
A dose of 1,000 mg of DHA is a great place to start if you are looking to support your brain function. Most DHA supplements are made from fish, but there are some available for vegans and vegetarians that have been processed from algae.
You can find DHA supplements in a liquid oil, chewables or liquid softgels. With liquids and liquid softgels offering better bioavailability.
Regardless of whether you are choosing a fish or algae source, look for a DHA supplement that’s been rigorously tested and certified. It is worth pointing out that DHA and fish oil supplements are safe, however it is a good idea to speak with your doctor prior to beginning to take a fish oil, as they can impact blood clotting.
Which Omega 3 DHA Supplement is Best?
A popular liquid omega 3 supplement is Pro Omega 1300mg in a fresh lemon flavour by Naka. This supplement is 100% tested for purity, potency and freshness. Offering 800mg of EPA and 500mg of DHA, this formulation supports cognition all while being pure, potent, highly absorbable, GMO and gluten free and non-irradiated.
If you’re looking for a vegan formula, DHA by Flora is an unrefined algae supplement that’s derived from cultivated algae instead of fish. Free of ocean contaminants, molecular distillation and other types of processing, this supplement is fresh, pure and easy to absorb since it’s a soft gel formula.
There is a growing body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, are beneficial for your brain health. They can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline with age and they may even help support a healthy developing brain. Supplementation with omega-3s may be especially important if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because these nutrients are crucial during this time.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.