DHA Fish Oil
I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.
Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine
Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program
Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award
After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'
Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA as it’s more commonly known, is not the first thing most people think of when they are taking steps towards a healthier life. Being a results driven society, more people are interested in learning about the effects of the medications and supplements they are taking rather than focusing on the scientific names. But DHA is something that can dramatically affect the life of those who make it a part of their everyday life.
What is DHA?
DHA is a part of essential fatty acids found naturally in fish and shellfish. These Omega 3 fatty acids are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and into a chain that can be broken into ALA or alpha linolenic acid and the DHA itself. When the body takes in essential Omega 3 fatty acids, it converts the chain into these two parts in order to use the ingredients for different functions in the body. Based mainly in a few different structures of the body – the sperm, brain, and retinas – DHA can change the body as well as prevent long term problems for certain groups of patients.
Where Can You Find DHA?
DHA is found in fish oil supplements as well as in a number of oilier fishes – like salmon, mackerel, kippers, tuna, and herring. These fishes naturally contain more oils in their body and can thus produce a larger amount of fish oil for manufacture. You can not find DHA in non-fish sources as it is an Omega 3 fatty acid as opposed to the plant based Omega 6 fatty acid. There is some speculation that the Omega 6 fatty acids can also be broken down into Omega 3 materials, but for the best source of DHA, fish oil and fish sources are recommended.
What can DHA Do for You?
While studies are still pending on some of the benefits of DHA, one thing is clear – this is a supplement that has potential to change your health, even if you’re not sick right now.
A study done at the University of Nevada found that mice that ingested DHA alone were more likely to have cancerous tumours reduce in size over the course of testing. Similar to human carcinomas, this finding allows it to be reasonable for the everyday person to see that DHA might play a strong role in cancer treatment as well as prevention.
Since DHA is found in the brain phospholipids, it’s only natural that other studies have been done to see what nervous system benefits might result from supplementation. A study is currently being done by the National Institute for Health that is linking the treatment of Alzheimer’s to the supplementation of DHA in the diet. Plagues that typically build in the brain and promote the progression of this memory loss disorder are reduced with the supplementation of DHA in the diet while the control group did not see the reduction of plagues. This study is ongoing, so it still remains to be seen just how far DHA can go to slow the spread of the disorder in the brain.
Because the DHA molecules are inherent in the structure of the brain and in the retinas, it has been added to many infant formula mixtures. Babies that have been given these kinds of formulas have performed better on tests later in life and have not had the vision problems that are associated with a lack of essential fatty acids in the diet of the mum. Babies that were born prematurely saw the greatest benefits as the last trimester of development often leave the preemies with vision problems and intelligence losses. However, those that were given DHA did not show these issues.
Are Supplements the Answer?
When a patient is looking into adding DHA to their life, supplements are certainly the simplest way to do so. Not only are pills easy to remember to take, but they are also easy to regulate in terms of the amount of Omega 3s you are getting. In terms of purity, supplements fare far better than their fish counterparts. Since oily and fatty fishes tend to have higher levels of mercury in their bodies, it is easy to ingest too much mercury and cause toxic levels in the body.
With supplements, this effect is greatly reduced, even if you take the supplements every day. By limiting your weekly fish intake to no more than two servings, you can reduce your chances of mercury consumption, but you might also not get all the DHA you need.
For babies, the DHA can be added to a formula mix or can be found as a part of many pre-mixed formulas.
When you are looking to make a change in your diet to affect your long term health, fish oil supplements that contain Omega 3s that turn into DHA are some of the best choices. Not only will they allow you to protect your health, but also they will help to protect the health of your children.
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