The Benefits of Algal DHA / Why Do I Need DHA?
Why Do I Need DHA?
DHA omega-3 is to our brains as calcium is to our bones. It accounts for 97 percent of the omega-3 fats in the brain. Yet, most Americans don't get enough of this nutrient. Cold-water, fatty fish like salmon are good dietary sources of DHA. But there are now many foods, beverages and supplements available that are fortified with a vegetarian and sustainable, algal-based source of DHA. Try incorporating DHA into your diet with products you already love to eat. Soymilks, juices, milks, breads, cooking oils, yogurts, eggs, even nutrition bars and drink mixes are now being fortified with algal DHA.
Because algal DHA does not come from fish, there is no risk of ocean-borne contaminants. Algal DHA provides brain, eye and heart health benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are "good fats," and are among the most important nutrients lacking in Americans' diets today. DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fat in our brains. And, because our bodies don't efficiently make DHA, we need to eat foods rich in this important nutrient in order to keep our brains functioning optimally.
The average American consumes less than 100 mg of DHA daily. With increasing awareness of the importance of DHA, many people may realize that they need to make a change to their diet by adding DHA-rich foods or supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA, have been shown to promote good health. Research suggests that DHA may:
- Support a healthy pregnancy
- Support length of gestation
- Support visual development and function
- Support cognitive development and function
- Support cardiovascular health
- Reduce risk of dementia
- Reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Improve memory
Other Important Nutrients for Brain Health
Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant, protecting cells, tissues and organs from damage. It also contributes to healthy blood flow by regulating the opening of blood vessels and preventing cholesterol from building up on blood vessel walls.
Just over 90 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin E from food (Fulgoni et al. 2011). Recent studies have found that lower levels of vitamin E in the blood may be associated with the increased prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (Mangialasche et al. 2012) and vitamin E may positively impact functional performance among participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (Dysken et al. 2014).
Vitamin E can be found in milk, butter, eggs, vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains, wheat germ and dark leafy greens like spinach. Vitamin E is also available in a supplement.
Lutein is one of the 600 known carotenoids and is one of only two found in the retina of the eye (the other is zeaxanthin). Lutein is an important natural antioxidant that helps maintain healthy eyes and supports brain health as we age.
New research on lutein, typically known for it benefits to eye health, has found a correlation between macular pigment density and general cognitive function in healthy elderly people (NHANES 2007-2008). A large number of Americans are not achieving adequate levels of lutein in their everyday diets (Johnson EJ 2012) and fewer than half of Americans – 41 percent – are familiar with lutein, according to the DSM Nutritional Products’ Eye Health Survey (2013).
Lutein can be found in dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collards and turnip greens), egg yolks, peas and corn. Lutein is also available in a supplement.