Docosahexaenoic acid

Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA are Omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for the development of your brain, cerebral cortex, skin and also the retina of your eye. EPA and DHA can be synthesized from something called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which is found in fish oil or algae oil and even mothers milk.

Non-vegetarians have a host of choices for obtaining Omega-3 from fish, krill oil, eggs from chickens, squid oils. If you are vegetarian, I hope you are consuming walnuts and flax seeds. These are the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids as your source of this vital fatty acid is limited.

In a research study conducted, people consuming a mostly non-vegetarian diet were shown to have the highest DHA levels. Those who were vegetarian had lower levels of DHA and even with supplementation were unable to match the standards of their fish consuming brethren. What the research found was that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA was not efficient especially for vegetarians. Your deficiencies can be augmented if your also nutrient deficient and on an inadequate diet otherwise. So why should you care about all this?

If you are a to-be-mother, your child’s brain development, vision, intelligence and ability to solve problems can be a function of you consuming sufficient amounts of Omega-3. Even as an adult, your risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, and other disorders are related to the number of fatty acids, you consume.

If you are a woman, you are better protected than men. Women tend to convert fatty acids better than men. Also, estrogen a hormone that is found in abundance during childbearing years protects them from cardiac ailments. Regardless, it is in your long-term interest to make sure that you are eating sufficient quantities of Omega-3.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.