DHA has been a key component for developing brain and eyes and it continues to support brain and eye function throughout life. As a matter of fact, DHA is a is also a key component of the heart and cardiovascular system, and one of the
omega-3 fatty acids recommended by the American Heart Association and USDA Dietary Guidelines for good cardiovascular health.
Additionally, there has been positive research on the role that DHA may play in adult brain and eye health. DHA intake has been associated with a decreased risk of mental decline associated with aging. No other fatty acid demonstrates this relationship.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
- Heart disease - One of the best ways to help prevent heart disease is to eat a diet low in saturated fat and to eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids). Clinical evidence suggests that EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, the 2 omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fish oil has been shown to lower levels of triglycerides (fats in the blood), and to lower the risk of death, heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms in people who have already had a heart attack. Fish oil also appears to help prevent and treat atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots, which can clog arteries.
- Cancer - Omega fatty acids have a potential role in prevention of colonic cancers. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Animal studies and laboratory studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids prevent worsening of colon cancer.
-Diabetes - People with diabetes often have high triglyceride and low HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help lower triglycerides and apoproteins (markers of diabetes), and raise HDL, so eating foods or taking fish oil supplements may help people with diabetes.
-High blood pressure - Several clinical studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. The antihypertensive effects of omega-3s, including those involving vascular, cardiac and autonomic function. Thickening of the arterial wall, which is characteristic of hypertension, was reduced with DHA treatment in an animal model of hypertension. DHA might lower blood pressure by modification of sodium absorption by the kidney, changes in kidney arachidonic acid (a long-chain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid) metabolism and calcium transport, and activation of potassium channels by metabolites of arachidonic acid that dilate blood vessels
-Stroke - Large population studies suggest that getting omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, primarily from fish, helps protect against stroke caused by plaque build-up and blood clots in the arteries that lead to the brain.
-Role in arthritis - studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (and low in the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) may help people with osteoarthritis.
-Visual functions - In aging, visual function usually declines owing to changes in retina and other eye cells. Cell membranes lose some of their fluidity, cell structure changes, deposits accumulate, oxidation causes damage and cells are lost. These changes contribute to impaired vision in later life. In age-related macular degeneration (AMD), yellowish deposits (drusen) accumulate in the macula, the central region of the retina. Cells in the macula break down and vision becomes distorted and blurry. Vision loss may develop. Drusen may develop into advanced forms of AMD, threatening the ability to see.
-Alzheimer’s disease (AD) - Large population studies that link nutrition to AD suggest that a shortage of nutrients such as the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, several B vitamins and antioxidants increases the chance of developing the disease. On the other hand, individuals with diets rich in fish, the food with the most docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have a significantly lower chance of developing dementia and AD. Low DHA levels are associated with dementia, and low concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA in elderly populations increase the chance of accelerated cognitive decline and death from all causes.