What Exactly Are DHA Supplements And Why Should You Be Taking Them?
If you’re not taking DHA supplements you should be.
One of the biggest breakthroughs that science has discovered in recent years in naturally improving your health is the role of DHA (and EPA) in so many aspects of our general health. Today we would like to examine exactly what DHA is, and why DHA is considered so important to many areas of health, including infant health.
DHA stands for Docosahexaenoic acid. It is what is known as a long chain fatty acid, or otherwise known as an essential fatty acid. DHA makes up a large proportion of the fats in our brain and is one of the most important fats in the development of the fetal brain.
Many people assume that eating fat is bad for you. This is far from the truth and there are a number of fats, known as essential fatty acids, that are in fact extremely important for your health. Evidence is that our diets are low in these fats, particularly in DHA, and that increasing our intake of essential fatty acids can have important positive impacts on so many areas of our health.
Certainly there is clear evidence that eating some kinds of fat is bad for you. Saturated fats for example, normally found in meat and dairy products, should only be consumed in smaller quantities than is now the case for most of us. However essential fatty acids have been found over and over again in studies to be very important to our health and our consumption of these should be increased.
The most important of these essential fatty acids is DHA, however EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) is also important. Neither of these fats is manufactured in our body and both must be taken from our food. Current science shows that the average American diet is largely deficient in both DHA and EPA.
Both of these fats are known as Omega 3 fatty acids. You may have heard of the benefits of Omega 3, this refers to the benefits of DHA and EPA. There are a number of sources of DHA and EPA but for our purposes they are primarily found in fish and in particular fish oil, and for various reasons are best taken as DHA supplements, in fact the best way is to take Omega 3 supplements which combines the 2.
Studies are showing significant health benefits, particularly for children, from increasing the intake of DHA specifically in certain circumstances, and suggest that low levels of DHA, (as well as arachidonic acid (AA), a polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid), may well benefit young children with specific paediatric conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria, unipolar depression, aggressive hostility, and congenital metabolic disorders, amongst others.
The Omega 3 fat DHA is an unsaturated (healthy) form of fat. Other forms of fat, known as saturated fats, are not good for the health.
Lets consider in a little more detail the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats.
Probably the simplest way to differentiate between a saturated and an un-saturated fat is to consider the state of the substance at room temperature.
Saturated fats are fats which form a solid at normal room temperatures.
Think about the last time you cooked roast beef. If you left the resultant fat in the oven tray until the next morning it would be solid, and you could scrape it out. And yet when it came out of the oven it was liquid.
Saturated fats are found predominantly in animal products, including all meat.
Now think about some plant-based oils. Olive oil for example. Even if you cook with olive oil, at which time it will be liquid, it will remain as a liquid even at room temperature. It will be a liquid in the bottle in your cupboard right now.
Unsaturated fats are fats which remain a liquid at normal room temperatures.
Unsaturated fats are generally found in plants. They are also found in fish and other seafood.
As well as DHA and EPA there are other Omega 3 fats. A third one that has gained some popularity over recent years is called ALA. This is a plant-based Omega 3 fatty acid. For vegetarians who do not eat fish it is an alternative to taking DHA supplements however the research shows that ALA is not as effective at improving our health as DHA and EPA, primarily because ALA needs to be converted into DHA in the body, and particularly ineffective process. And it is now possible to get vegetarian DHA supplements anyway.
If you’re just starting to research the benefits of DHA supplements, or Omega 3 supplements generally, then please read some of the articles listed in our categories to find out more about some of the specific conditions listed above.
However if you are new to the importance of good DHA supplementation in your diet it’s important to understand that not all Omega 3 supplements are the same. The reason for taking supplements is for their DHA (and EPA) and various supplements have wildly differing amounts of these 2 essential fatty acids. The best Omega 3 supplements have around 2 1/2 times as much DHA as average fish oil supplements.
Not only that but the best Omega 3 supplements have also been shown to work more effectively. For these reasons it is important to choose you’re DHA supplements carefully. To assist we have written to article about how to choose the best fish oil supplements and how to compare fish oil supplements by price which you may find interesting.
So if you’re new to the health benefits of DHA supplements please browse our site to find out more about the importance of increasing your intake of essential fatty acids, (and also decreasing in your intake of saturated fats).To find out more about Peter Click Here
Filed under: DHA And EPA