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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Building a Foundation for Healthy Aging: Omega-3s, EPA & DHA

By Michael McBurney

Despite headlines to the contrary, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) does not cure periodontal disease, or anything else. Omega-3s are nutrients not medicines. However, inadequate DHA intakes have health consequences. Omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA, are important for brain and cardiovascular health. From conception and throughout life.

Eating 12 ounces of fish weekly during pregnancy is important for the development of baby’s visual and nervous systems. DHA has important structural and functional roles in the brain. DHA is the principal structural fatty acid representing 97% of the omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain. As discussed earlier, DHA concentrations in cord blood are associated with better infant development and sleep.

DHA requirement may even increase after traumatic brain injury. We need to have a balanced intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Our diet tends to be filled with omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3s. We need DHA to nourish and maintain health brain function.

Don’t forget the heart benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Intervention trials and numerous observational cohort studies from many countries support a primary cardiovascular health benefit for omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain normal triglyceride levels and reduce cardiovascular risk. Because our bodies are not very efficient at synthesizing EPA and DHA, it is important to consume these essential building blocks for a healthy body.

Are you consuming recommended amounts of EPA and DHA?

Main Citation

Mohajeri MH, Troesch B, Weber P. Inadequate supply of vitamins and DHA in the elderly: implication for brain aging and Alzheimer’s type dementia. 2014 Nutr doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.06.016

Other Citations

Cernkovich E, McBurney MI, Ciappio ED. ω-3 fatty acid supplementation as a potential therapeutic aid for the recovery from mild traumatic brain injury/concussion. 2014 Adv Nutr doi: 10.3945/an.113.005280

Zornoza-Moreno M, Fuentes-Hernández S, Carrión V, Alcántara-López MV, Madrid JA, López-Soler C, Sánchez-Solís M, Larqué E. Is low docosahexaenoic acid associated with disturbed rhythms and neurodevelopment in offsprings of diabetic mothers? 2014 Eur J Clin Nutr doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.104