Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain, making up 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain and 60% in the retinas. Half of the weight of the plasma in a neuron (brain cell) is made up of DHA.

This fat is essential to production and maintenance of healthy brain cells. There’s no doubt you need omega-3 fat for proper brain function. In fact, according to a recent article published in the journal, Nutrients,  there is increasing evidence to suggest that a deficiency in this essential fat may lead to brain degeneration.

The introduction of high-quality, easily digested nutrients from seafood into the human diet coincides with the rapid expansion of gray matter in the cerebral cortex – a defining characteristic of the modern human brain. Humans evolved because of a staple source of the essential omega-3 fat (DHA) in their diets, namely seafood.

Omega-3 fats cannot be synthesized in the body in the quantities needed, so therefore must be obtained through diet or supplements. The DHA molecule is uniquely structures to provide optimum conditions to activate a wide range of cell membrane functions. Our brain cells are particularly membrane-rich tissues.

Animal based DHA is not the same as plant-based DHA, and although we need both in our diet, animal based is the one essential for a healthy brain.

Cold-water oceanic fish oils are rich in DHA. They are essential to brain health. For this reason it is imperative to either eat cold-water fish that are not farm-raised, or take a fish oil supplement. Most of the DHA in fish and multi-cellular cold-water organisms come from photosynthetic and heterotrophic micro algae. It becomes increasingly concentrated in organisms the further they are up the food chain. DHA also is rich in breast milk, no matter what types of diets the mother eats.

  • Low DHA levels have been linked to:
  • Memory loss
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder

One study found significant memory improvement in 485 elderly patient volunteers already suffering from some memory. These patients took a 900 mg supplement of DHA per day for a period of 24 weeks when compared to a control group. Another study gave out 800 mg of DHA for four months, and compared to the control group that took a placebo, showed significant improvement in verbal fluency scores. In addition, by adding 12 mg of lutin per day in addition to the DHA had an even higher rate of success. 

What research does suggest is that older brains seem to have a greater need for animal-based omega-3 fatty acids for prevention of mental decline and brain degeneration.

Currently over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. By the year 2050 that number could increase to between 11 and 16 million in the United States alone. Neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s are a normal part of aging! Truly, your memory and brain functioning do not have to decline simply because you are getting older. This is especially true if you make sure you supply your brain with the essential nutrients it needs to perform its job, namely DHA.



About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.




Dr. Mercola – A Daily 900 mg Dose of this Fat Helped Reverse Memory Loss:

Wikipedia – Docosahexaenoic acid: