What Is Docosahexaenoic Acid?


Quick Answer

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in cold water fatty fish, such as salmon, and in fish oil supplements. The body naturally make small amounts of DHA, but we must get the amounts we need from food or supplements.

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Full Answer

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for the heart and the body, specifically for the brain. DHA is used for treating type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD), dementia and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some people use DHA is for improving vision, preventing an eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), preventing and treating depression and reducing aggressive behavior in people in stressful situations. It is also used in combination with evening primrose oil, thyme oil and vitamin E (Efalex) to improve movement disorders in children with a condition called dyspraxia.

Infants need DHA, especially during the first 6 months of their lives, so their brains, eyes and nervous systems can develop as they should. It is also used as a supplement for premature babies. DHA is found in breast milk and is also added to infant formula.

DHA plays a key role in the development of eye and nerve tissues. DHA may also reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by decreasing the thickness of the blood and lowering blood levels of triglycerides.

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