The importance of DHA

Did you know that 60% of the structure of your brain is fat? Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid important for brain and eye development and function throughout life.

It is the most abundant omega 3 in the brain, representing about 97% of all omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. It also assists with the healthy development of eyes and provides support for memory and cognitive function. 2-3

Omega-3s are essential fats that your body doesn’t produce so most of it must be obtained through diet or supplementation.

DHA plays a role in numerous functions including:

  • Brain and nervous system development and function
  • Inhibits oxidative stress
  • Influences growth and development of nervous tissue
  • Infant mental development
  • Supporting the mental function of children and adults throughout life
  • Some behavioural and mood disorders affecting both children and adults
  • Infant visual development and visual function throughout life
  • Supporting a healthy heart

DHA intake supports a healthy pregnancy and assists in achieving healthy pregnancy outcomes. It’s particularly important in the third trimester when significant brain growth occurs. Developing infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA and therefore must obtain this vital nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk after birth.

As foetal supply of DHA is solely dependent on maternal intake, increasing DHA during these times has a very important impact on the status of the newborn and may assist children’s general growth and development, cognition, vision and behaviour.

As awareness of the importance of DHA grows, more attention is being paid to the fact that adults and specifically pregnant and breastfeeding women may benefit from getting more DHA in their diets, either through food or supplementation.


  1. Maternal Insights, October 2015, Research, Case Studies and Education. Bioceuticals Newsletter
  2. Salem N, Litman B, Kim HY, et al. Mechanisms of action of docoheexaenoic acid in the nervous system. Lipids 2001;66:397-404
  3. Lauritzen L, Hasen HS, JOrgensen MH, et al. The essentiality of long chain n-3 fatty acids in relation to development and function of the brained retina. Prog lipid Res 2001; 40:1-94