[ Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, cervonic acid ]
A polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) of the omega-3 class. In humans is considered essential.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an important structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and retina. It is also an important component of human milk for the proper development of infants.
DHA is a constituent of the myelin sheath of brain and nerve axons. Both DHA and EPA are being studied for their roles in improving cognitive function and the reduction of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases.
DHA is considered a conditionally-essential fatty acid because it can be biosynthesised from ALA. However the the efficiency of this conversion is reported to be less than 10% in women and even less in men. Conversion seems to decrease with age.
The primary dietary source of DHA (along with EPA) is arctic marine animals, including wild fish, krill and seals. However, there are environmental concerns over the sustainability of these sources. Cultured microalgae holds promise as an environmentally sustainable source of DHA which is also suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.