Topic of the Month
Docosahexaenoic acid and brain health
1 August 2012
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for health but the human body is not capable of producing them, hence they have to be consumed in the form of food. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in maintaining health as well as normal growth and development. They have become popular because of their potential benefits for the cardiovascular system. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Less well-known are the positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids – particularly of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – on the brain. As a key structural element, DHA is highly concentrated in the brain and appears to be important for its development as well as for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.