The majority of the fatty acids found in the brain are DHA omega-3, which is one of the omega-3s found in fatty fish (the other is EPA).
We need to consume omega-3s because our body doesn’t produce significant amounts on its own. For brain health, we should try to eat plenty of fatty fish or take a fish oil or algae oil supplement, which can help support ongoing brain function.
DHA and brain function
The function of DHA in brain tissues is to support synaptic plasticity, which means, in the simplest way, that it helps the neurons in the brain to communicate more efficiently with each other, delivering messages and making connections – enabling us to remember important things like how to tie our shoelaces or people’s names, and to learn new things.
This is supported by Fernando Gōmez-Pinilla, a professor of Neurosurgery at UCLA, who conducted an extensive review of all literature and studies relating to this subject, and concluded that diets rich in DHA are healthy for the brain, enhancing cognitive abilities. In his review – published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience – discussed how a diet rich in DHA can help to slow the rate of cognitive decline in the elderly and may improve mood disorders.
Where to find DHA
The good news is that we can counteract a DHA deficiency easily by adding this important nutrient into our daily diet. Various studies have shown that DHA omega-3 may improve mood and behavior.
If children aren’t meeting the suggested requirement of at least two servings of fatty fish per week, there are omega-3 supplements on the market. Thanks to technological advances, there are a variety of children’s omega-3 supplements available and they come in various forms, including gummy supplements and flavored oils. There are also many food products on supermarket shelves that are enriched with omega-3s, which can help add a little extra throughout the day.
Children aren’t the only ones who need healthy brains. As we age, we need our brains to stay sharp. Getting enough DHA in our diet is an important part of this process.