DHA Benefits You Don’t Want to Miss Out On
The importance of omega-3 fatty acids cannot be understated. Perhaps the most important one for your body is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). In fact, as a major structural component of various body parts, DHA is crucial for overall health.
Today, I’ll explain the heavy role DHA plays in eye health and tell you how to get enough of this super important nutrient.
DHA is often seen with another fatty acid called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These two are only found in cold-water oily fish and work together to reduce the risk for heart disease, boost brain health, and fight inflammation. DHA in particular, is critical for healthy vision.
The standard American diet full of sugar, grains and unhealthy fat falls short of supplying DHA. This type of diet also causes systemic inflammation, the root of disease. An unhealthy diet needs DHA to fight inflammation. For many people, DHA is the missing link to better health.
The Link Between DHA and Vision
DHA plays several roles in supporting healthy vision and protects you from:
- Damaging bright light exposure
- Oxidative stress
- Inflammation that leads to eye diseases like macular degeneration
The highest concentration of DHA in your body is actually found in your retina, the structure of your eye that receives and converts light into neuronal signals. These signals are then sent to the brain for visual interpretation. In short, your retina is responsible for central vision and helps you see by communicating with your brain.
Your retina and the rods and cones of the macula are eye structures that require DHA for normal development and function. Photoreceptors are the cells in your retina that make vision possible by responding to light. DHA keeps these cells and their membranes healthy and functioning properly. In fact, photoreceptors contain more DHA than any other type of cell in your body.
Research Confirms That DHA Supports Eye Health
Starting in utero and particularly in the first year of life, DHA accumulates in the eyes and brain. This is why DHA is a critical supplement during pregnancy and for breast-feeding mothers. The concentration of DHA in breast milk is influenced by the mother’s diet and babies rely on it for development.
In my blog, Fish Oil During Pregnancy Can Benefit Baby For Years, I discuss the benefits and supporting research in more detail.
It is also well established in research studies that DHA (in combination with EPA) preserves healthy vision and particularly reduces the risk of blindness in people with age-related macular degeneration.
DHA also boosts the performance of palmitate, a form of vitamin A that also supports vision.
You can read one particular study in full here: Dietary Intake of DHA and EPA and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
The Best Food Sources of DHA
Your body can only make small amounts, so to reap the DHA benefits you need to get plenty from your diet.
DHA rich foods include:
You should eat at least three total servings per week of the above sources.
I also recommend taking a high-quality fish oil supplement that contains both DHA and EPA, the other crucial Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish.
It really doesn’t matter what time of day you take fish oil, but it’s best with food containing fat for better absorption. Some ideas are taking it with avocado, eggs, walnuts, salmon, almond butter, or with a healthy oil.
Here’s are the highlights on DHA and your health:
- It is required for optimum health and healthy vision.
- Your body doesn’t make enough on its own – you must get it through diet.
- Fatty fish is the best source for DHA.
- DHA and EPA work together and are incredibly important for your health, so take a high-quality fish oil supplement that contains both of these nutrients.
To learn more, visit my discussion of Fish Oil Benefits And Why YOU Should Be Supplementing.