DHA Supplement For Brain & Eyes
Once again, maintaining high levels of EPA has been shown to lower the risk of developing and worsening cognitive decline and dementia. If, however, you know someone who already has a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, has had a concussion, or stroke, their brain has already been damaged and needs structural support. As I mentioned in Part -2 the various enzymes (COX and LOX) that make inflammatory eicosanoids can accommodate both AA and EPA, but due to the greater spatial size of DHA, these enzymes will have difficulty in converting DHA into eicosanoids. This makes DHA a poor substrate for these key anti-inflammatory enzymes. Thus, DHA again has little effect on cellular inflammation whereas EPA can have a powerful impact.
WHAT IS DHA?
DHA, also know as Docosahexaenoic acid, is a fatty acid with unique spatial characteristics. As mentioned in Part-2 on EPAs, even though DHA does not compete with AA like EPA, the good news is it makes certain areas of membranes more fluid or lipoprotein particles larger.
The health benefits of DHA are due to the fact that it takes up a lot more space than EPA in the membrane. So, it does a great job of making membranes (especially those in the brain) a lot more fluid as the DHA sweeps out a much greater volume in the membrane than does EPA.
DHA is also a critical component of the highly fluid portions of the nerves. This increase in membrane fluidity is critical for synaptic vesicles and the retina of the eye as it allows receptors to rotate more effectively thus increasing the transmission of signals from the surface of the membrane to the interior of the nerve cells. When it comes to DHA, eye health is well supported by this fatty acid.
Another benefit to this constant sweeping motion of DHA, is that it causes the breakup of lipid rafts in membranes. Disruption of these islands of relatively solid lipids makes it more difficult for cancer cells to continue to survive, and more difficult for inflammatory cytokines (special cells that initiate the signaling responses) to turn on inflammatory genes.
In addition, the greater spatial characteristics of DHA increase the size of LDL particles compared to EPA. As a result, DHA helps reduce the entry of these enlarged LDL particles into the muscle cells that line the artery, thus reducing the likelihood of developing atherosclerotic lesions.
If you use high-dose DHA it is essential to add back trace amounts of GLA (I’ll talk more about that in Part-5) to maintain sufficient levels of DGLA to continue to produce anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.
For extra DHA brain health I recommend ProDHA 1000, and for DHA eye health I recommend ProDHA Eye both by Nordic Naturals.