Looking after your cognitive health begins while you're still in your mother's womb and continues throughout your life. One of the most important nutrients for cognitive wellness is DHA.
What Is DHA?
DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. DHA is a type of essential fatty acid known as an omega-3. DHA is found naturally within the oil of fish that live in cold water, such as salmon, mackerel, herring and tuna as well as krill, a small type of crustacean. These sea creatures are harvested to create supplements. Lastly, vegan supplements can be produced from algae.
DHA and Your Brain
DHA supplements are recommended for all pregnant women to take to support the mental development of their babies (they also support the development of the eyes). DHA helps the nerves develop correctly for proper communication throughout the entire body. It also combats inflammation, which can be damaging to the brain cells. As we age, DHA becomes important for protecting cognitive function and memory and may be able to help reduce the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
The clinical research of DHA continues on all ages to see how it impacts cognitive health. A study just published last May in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found DHA supplementation for six months improved the memory and reaction time of men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 who were low in DHA before the study but healthy otherwise. These participants took 1.6 g of DHA per day.
How to Boost DHA
In order to get more DHA into your diet, you can start by eating at least two servings of fatty fish a week, like salmon, which contains plenty of omega-3s. If you're not a fan of fish or are looking for a stronger dosage, you can try a supplement. Suggested daily dosages vary but the most common recommendation is to get at least 500 mg of omega-3s per serving -- look for a supplement wherein at least 300 mg of those essential fatty acids are DHA.
In order to keep the supplement fresh and prevent any oxidation or breakdown, store the product in the door of your fridge. Don't put it on a shelf where it can get pushed to the back and freeze. Many supplements are also made with natural flavors now to avoid a fishy odor, taste or aftertaste.
If you're concerned about your cognitive health, talk with your doctor about adding a DHA supplement. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, they can help you determine the best dosage for your needs and how long to take it for.
You can find a variety of DHA-specific and fish oil supplements at eVitamins to suit your needs. Let us know what your favorites are!