Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (Molecule of the Month for March 2006)
cervonic acid, omega-3 essential fatty acid
Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 essential fatty acid. It is most often found in fish oil. Most of the DHA in fish and other more complex organisms originates in microalgae of the genus Schizochytrium, and concentrates in organisms as it moves up the food chain. Most animals make very little DHA metabolically, however small amounts are manufactured internally through the consumption of ?-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed as well as many other seeds and nuts.
DHA is a major fatty acid in sperm and brain phospholipids, especially in the retina. Dietary DHA can reduce the level of blood triglycerides in humans, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Low levels of DHA have been associated with Alzheimer's disease, depression, and other diseases, and there is mounting evidence that DHA supplementation may be effective in combating such diseases.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oil from oily fish and vegetable sources such as the seeds of chia, perilla, flax, purslane, lingonberry and hemp. Omega-3 fatty acids are classified as essential fatty acids. Common omega-3 fatty acids in the human body are linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid.
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for March 2006 )