acid) with approximately 0.1-1% efficiency.26,35 However, there is ample evidence which shows that in order to support optimal health and alleviate various pathological conditions, additional DHA along with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) should be obtained from diet and/or nutritional supplements.
1. DHA is a structural molecule in all cell membranes. It provides the highest fluidity possible due to it having the greatest number of double bonds among all polyunsaturated fatty acids. This makes the cell membranes very receptive to surrounding signals produced by other cells, such as neurotransmitters, immune signals and hormones.
• DHA is an important component of neuronal cell membranes (40% of total PUFA content), where it is complexed with phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine.
• As a component of mitochondrial membranes, DHA supports better ATP production by enhancing the electron transport system, as demonstrated in heart cells48 and brain cells.38
2. DHA is a precursor to docosanoids (regulating molecules): Docosanoids are similar in structure to the eicosanoids derived from EPA and have anti-inflammatory, immune regulatory and protective actions in the context of various inflammatory responses. Two types of docosanoids:
• Neuroprotectin D1 – specific to brain protection against ischemia, oxidative stress
• Resolvins D1-D4 – produced during the resolution phase of acute inflammation and support adequate termination of inflammatory processes throughout the body.
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